Big Grandma's Cookbook

Big Grandma's Cookbook: Old Fashioned Molasses Cookies

Big Grandma didn't always make Hungarian foods.  She was actually quite adventurous in her cooking style and would try just about anything.  Most of the time, we enjoyed whatever she was making.  But I wouldn't be truthful if I said we liked everything.  

I can remember a time when Big Grandma made us some pumpkin soup during a visit.  Now, I love pumpkin soup.  But not that time.  I don't know what was in it, but I can still taste it 30 years later.  Every time I think of that soup, it makes me chuckle a bit because even though it wasn't a favorite, it makes me think of my grandma.  

If I can get sentimental for a minute, I'd like to share something...

My grandma was a very proper woman.  She is the one who taught us how to set a table the right way, how to keep a smooth complexion by never washing your face with soap, how to sit with your legs properly crossed at the ankles during tea...all that.  Up until we were all older, I didn't really know my grandma any other way.  So when something came up like the pumpkin soup incident - where she made something that wasn't perfect - it made me feel closer to her.  She normally didn't DO anything that wasn't perfect.  It helped me to realize she was a normal human being.

Back to recipes.  This recipe also reminds me of Big Grandma for the same reason the pumpkin soup did, except it is delicious (unlike that soup).  It's not one that I would have expected from Big Grandma's cookbook and seems to be a far stretch from the more proper recipes she has in there.  It really made me smile to see it.  It made me smile even more to taste the end results!  Enjoy.

Molasses cookies

Old Fashioned Molasses Cookies

  • 1/2 cup shortening (I used softened butter)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2 1/4 cup sifted all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup water

Cream shortening (or softened butter) & sugar until light and fluffy.  Add egg & molasses.  Sift together dry ingredients and add to above alternately with water.  Drop by heaping teaspoon on ungreased baking sheets.  Bake at 375° 8-10 minutes.  

  Big Grandma's cookbook

Big Grandma's Cookbook: Stuffed Cabbages

My grandmother spoke Hungarian.  Not to us and not all the time or anything.  She learned it on her own for fun.  In fact, when she went to Hungary for the first time, a native asked HER for directions because her Hungarian was so fluent.  

When I sit and read through her cookbook, I find many Hungarian words that I have to translate through the magical thing we call the internet.  However, I did find a word she wrote that I can not seem to find here online: Golubtsk

It is very similar to the Polish word gołąbki and the Russian word Golubtsi  which both mean stuffed cabbage.  I can't help but think maybe she was trying to write one of them..?  

Anyway, the Hungarian words for stuffed cabbage are töltött káposzta.  Here's my grandma's recipe for stuffed cabbage...or whatever she called them.   Stuffed cabbage collage


  • 1 large cabbage (You will need a large pot filled with water a well)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 T table fat (I substituted with avocado oil)
  • 1/2 minced onion
  • 1/2 T butter
  • 2 cups of cooked lb brown rice 
  • 2 c beef stock

Boil the large pot of water and parboil cabbage 3 minutes.  Remove and cool enough to handle. Separate leaves from head.  (You may need to put the head back in the water once you get to the inner leaves)  Salt beef and fry in 2 T fat (or oil).  Add pepper.  Remove meat to a large bowl & fry onion in 1/2 T butter.  Add to meat.  Also add rice to meat and stir.  Season to taste.  Put 1 T mixture on each cabbage leaf & fold in shape of thick sausage.  Place in saucepan, pour stock over them, cover and simmer 1 hr.

I make stuffed cabbages all the time, and I have NEVER made them this way until reading Big Grandma's cookbook.  My recipe does not require cooking the meat before adding it together with the rice. I do not use any onion and instead of beef stock, I use tomato juice to cook them.  I also add either sauerkraut or keilbasa to the pan towards the end for more flavor.  

These turned out really nice... kind of like a naked version of the classic I'm used to.  They even tasted like a light version.  Try them and let me know what you think!


Big Grandma's Cookbook: Csorege (pronounced cher-o-ga) cookies

One thing I'm finding a bit difficult while reading my Grandma's cookbook is that there are no pictures in it.  I have no idea what most of her recipes are supposed to look like when finished.  So I either guess or look up someone else's recipe online to get a ballpark picture in my mind.  

This recipe was particularly interesting to me because I couldn't for the life of me figure out what the heck the result would be.  

It's a deep fried cookie...with wine in it.  

After doing some research, I found that this cookie can be compared to the Polish cookie called kruschicki.  Only kruschicki is sometimes made with whiskey and has a distinctive bowtie shape.  The csorege I made following Big Grandma's recipe only called for me to cut the dough, not shape it.  Therefore, mine were just flat.  The kids enjoyed them!



  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 Tbsp cream or milk
  • 1 Tbsp wine (I used white)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • About 1 1/2 to 2 cups flour

Combine above adding enough flour to make a soft dough.  Roll thin and fry in deep fat.

Things I noticed:

- Make sure your dough is not too wet.  It will be hard to roll out thin.  I suggest starting with a heavy cup of flour and add from there as you see fit.

- I used canola oil to fry and it was good.  Pay very close attention to the frying dough as it only takes about 30 seconds on each side to cook.

- The cookies are sweet on their own, but sprinkling some powdered sugar on top makes them much prettier.

Enjoy! Big Grandma's cookbook



Big Grandma's Cookbook: Hungarian Goulash

Big Grandma's cookbook
Of COURSE I'm starting this new series with Hungarian Goulash.  It just feels right considering my grandma was full blooded Hungarian.  She wasn't born there, but both her parents were.  There's a cute little story about them I always like to tell.

When they emigrated over here to the States as children, the didn't know each other at all.  They met and were married as adults then had my grandma and 3 other children.  Long after they passed away, my grandma went over to Hungary for the first time to find where they grew up.  She didn't realize it, but her parents actually grew up right across the river from one another!  Their childhoods were spent so close and yet they never met.  Now, that river separates Hungary from either Slovakia or Austria (I'm not sure which).  

Anyway, I wanted to start this series of recipes from my grandma's cookbook with a big ol' Hungarian bang.  So here it is.  My grandma's recipe for...


Hungarian Goulash

  • 3T shortening
  • 3 onion sliced thin
  • 1 pound beef, cut in cubes
  • salt & pepper
  • 1t paprika
  • marjoram 
  • Clove garlic pressed
  • beef stock
  • 2 c sauerkraut
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 T flour
  • 1 c sour cream
  • 1 t caraway seeds

Brown onion in stew pan or pressure cooker.  Brown meat quickly.  Add seasoning & stir.  Cover with liquid & simmer 30 minutes. (Pressure cooker add 1/4 c liquid & cook 10 min at 10lb pressure).  Add sauerkraut & continue simmering 3/4 hour. (Pressure method, 3-5 min at 10lb).  Thicken sauce with butter & flour.  Add sour cream & other variations.  Heat 5 min.  Serves 4.

OK, so I wrote the recipe exactly as I saw it in the cookbook.  You might have a few questions about the recipe.  I did, too.  

1. I don't have a pressure cooker, so I just ignored those bits.

2. Which seasonings should you put on the meat before covering with the liquid? I went with salt & pepper, paprika, marjoram, and garlic. How much marjoram?  About 1/4 tsp.  If you don't have marjoram, you can substitute oregano but use less - only about 1/8 tsp.

3. How much beef stock do you need? I would use about 1 cup, but have a bit extra on the side (1/4-1/2 cup) for the next step.

4. Do you just add the butter and flour to the pan seperately?  I actually made a roux in a separate pan and added a bit of the beef stock to it to thin it before adding it to the meat.  That worked very well.

Please stay tuned for next week's recipe!

New series: Big Grandma's Cookbook

Last year I was looking through some drawers and came across a book I had never opened.  It was kind of scraggly looking with duct tape holding the binding together.  I must have picked it up when we were cleaning out my grandmother's house years ago.  When I turned it over to check out the front cover, I burst into tears.

It's my grandma's cookbook.

Big Grandma's cookbook

Not only does it include every single thing I remember eating at her house, but it's written by hand- HER hand.  She gave it a table of contents and everything.  It's beautiful.  There are pages that have clippings she must have found in magazines or the daily newspaper along with her own personal recipes.  When I read through it the first time, I could actually smell the foods of my childhood.  

My grandmother was a very fine cook.  She was full blooded Hungarian so most of her dishes had an eastern European flair to them.  She liked to follow a recipe, but she also loved to add her own personal touches to everything she made.  Every time we would visit for dinner, it was an adventure.

Big Grandma and my daughter

I've decided to test out some of her recipes here each week in a new series called Big Grandma's Cookbook.  Funny story about how she became "Big" Grandma.  No, she was not a large woman by any means.  When my niece was very little, she knew her great grandma very well as they lived right next door to each other in my parents' two-family home.  She started calling her Big Grandma when she couldn't quite remember the word Great.  She knew her great grandma was someone important; someone BIG in her life.  So the name stuck.  I think my grandma liked it.

So please look for a new recipe every week from Big Grandma's Cookbook.  I'm looking forward to making them and I hope you will enjoy trying them yourself!