Thursday, September 25, 2008

Land of the Unfamilar and the Unemployed

Holly has brought it to my attention that I have been slacking off lately, and she's right. I've let my days get sucked up by unpacking, decorating, and spending countless hours roving and Career Builder in hope that there's an employer out there that would love to hire an English lit. major who's obsessed with food. When I get weary of writing cover letters and revising my resume, I crawl to the couch. Kent and I have been watching reruns of Arrested Development (whose unemployed characters I'm beginning to relate to more and more everyday) and classic episodes of the French Chef on DVD.

Moving is stressful, but settling into a new place is even harder. For the past month it's felt like I'm still traveling, still on a trip in a strange place. I can't leave the house without a map or a map quest print out. I struggle to find the right place to go out to eat, to buy groceries, to find micro-brewed beer. All that innate wisdom that comes with knowing a place really well, of being a local, well, that acquired knowledge just hasn't had time to bubble up, grow, ferment for me here in Bowling Green.

I'm making progress though. I've discovered a lovely farmer's market in Perrysberg, a short 15 minute drive from my house. (Where I bought cabbage and local ground beef for Runzas.) I'm slowly building up my pantry and my arsenal of condiments. (My friend Kelly thinks we should all be given a condiment stipend whenever we move because buying new jars of soy sauce, fish sauce, relish, mustard, ketchup, mayo, Worcestershire, jelly, honey, tahini, anchovy paste ect, is expensive.)

Then, there's also the matter of settling into a new kitchen... It's a lot like finding a new dance partner. This new kitchen has me stumbling over my own feet. It trips me up as I choreograph dinner. Instead of fluidly keeping rhythm with me as a reach for this pot, grab that pan, find the jar of ground cumin, or rummage through the drawer for a measuring cup, this kitchen is stilted and clunky. Oh, we're getting to know each other better, this kitchen and I. I'm working on rearranging things just so, memorizing with my feet and arms and hands where everything is, but it takes a lot of practice and rehearsals.

This week my kitchen and I worked on perfecting homemade Runzas. I'm not sure if it's because I'm back in the Midwest, or because it's fall, or because when everything is new the urge to return to childhood foods becomes impossibly strong, but whatever the reason, the Runzas were perfect: satisfyingly hearty and best eaten with your hands.

Sarah's Runzas
makes 8

1 1/2 t. dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
2 t. honey
1 1/2 t. salt
approximately 3 cups all purpose flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water and let stand for for 5 minutes. Stir in honey and salt. Add flour, stirring until rough dough forms. Then, either turn out onto floured work surface and knead by hand or knead with dough hook in stand mixer about 15 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. Place dough in oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for about an hour or until doubled in size.

1/2 lbs. ground beef (preferably grass-fed, organic beef)
2 small onions, chopped
2 cups cabbage, chopped
1/2 t. caraway seeds
dash of garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
melted butter

Over medium high heat, brown ground beef with onions. Drain excess fat. Add cabbage and cook over medium heat until cabbage is soft and nearly translucent. Add caraway seeds, garlic powder, and salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.

To Assemble:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roll out dough, about 1/8 in. thick, forming a rectangle shape. Cut into eight, smaller rectangle shapes about 3 inches wide and 6 inches long. Put about a 1/4 cup of filling in center of each Runza, top with shredded cheese, then fold edges together in half. Press seams of dough together firmly. Place on buttered cookie sheet. Before baking prick holes with fork in Runzas and brush with melted butter. Bake for about 15 minutes and until Runzas are golden brown. Let cool for at least 5 minutes before serving, and even then eat with caution as filling will be extremely hot! Kent likes to eat his with mustard and ketchup.

And I must admit it, these are much better than their fast food counter part. For one, they don't contain nearly as much sodium, and you know exactly what's in them. Plus, if you're anything like me, you get an innate sense of satisfaction of making something with your hands, seeing a process through from raw ingredients, to delicious finished project.


Diane said...

Cabbage and I just don't get along. Never have. But maybe if I replaced the cabbage with some diced potatoes? Hrm. I want to see more pictures of the house!

Anonymous said...

Wow! What nice looking runzas! I bet they were delicious. I would like to see more pictures of the kitchen too. Nice Kitchen Aid mixer you got there. Does Kent like runzas? Mom

Sarah said...

Diane, I lots of people have this aversion, but I'm not one of them. Currently I'm on a cabbage bender. Obsessive! I just made saurkraut. Does your mom make Kim Chee (sp?)?

Mom, Kent likes Runzas, but he eats them like a little kid--with lots and lots of ketchup!

Sarah said...

Oh, and diced potatoes would be great inside Runzas. That's what I love about them so much, they really are infinitely adaptable. Just make sure the potatoes are fully cooked before you assemble the Runzas. Let me know how they turn out. Sounds delicious.

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine ketchup on cabbbage, yuck. That would ruin the whole runza. I can't believe you just made saurkraut. How did it turn out? Did the crock work well for you? Mom