Kielbasa and Cabbage

As I have written before, Mom’s Boiled Dinner was one of my favorite meals. Paired with fresh homemade bread and some lunchmeat for a sandwich, it was the perfect meal on a cold winter’s night. Kielbasa and cabbage is a good warm-weather dish that gives you that same wonderful combination of meat and vegetables cooked in one pot with only just enough broth to blend the flavors. There is plenty of meat, so you can skip the sandwiches.

Kielbasa is the Polish word for sausage, but there are varieties of sausage called Polish sausage that are not Kielbasa. Today most Kielbasa is found as a smoked cooked sausage, but this recipe uses the fresh variety, which Polish speakers call Kielbasa biala (White Kielbasa). White kielbasa must be cooked. The browned slices of sausage combined with the sweet onions and cabbage give this dish a unique, rich flavor.

1 – 1 1/2 lbs. Fresh Kielbasa
2 T butter, divided
1 1/2 cups sweet onion
1 small cabbage(4 to 5 inches in diameter)
3 or 4 medium carrots
2 or 3 medium potatoes
1 stalk celery
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. beef bouillon
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the sausage into thin slices and put them into a large skillet with a tablespoon of butter over low heat while you prepare the vegetables.

Cut off the stem and root ends and remove the dry outer layer of the onion. Chop it into a quarter-inch dice and set it aside in a small bowl.

Remove any damaged leaves from the cabbage and wash the head. Cut it into medium wedges about two inches thick and set them aside in a mixing bowl. Scrub or scrape the carrots, remove the stem ends and chop the carrot into half-inch slices. Peel and chop the potatoes into half to three-quarter-inch cubes. Clean and chop the celery into half-inch pieces. Put these vegetables together in a mixing bowl.

Raise the heat under the skillet to medium and fry the sausage until it is well browned. Use a slotted spoon to transfer it from the skillet to a bowl.

Reduce the heat and put a tablespoon of butter into the skillet. Add the onion and cook it until it is translucent but not browned. Add the vegetables, water and bouillon along with quarter teaspoons of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover the skillet and steam the vegetables for ten minutes. Stir in the sausage, add a little water if necessary and replace the cover.

Continue cooking the meat and vegetables for about twenty minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Serve in bowls with bread and a good beer

NOTES: You don’t need to peel thin-skinned new potatoes. If you have some of those tasty potatoes in your pantry, just scrub them well and chop them into pieces. It is easier to slice the sausage if it is partially frozen, but uniform slices are not important. Just be sure that the sausage is cut into small bite-sized pieces.

Betty Stucky’s Raisin Bars

One year Jerri’s mother gave her a cookbook compiled by the Farm Bureau Women of Butler County, Kansas. Jerri grew up in Butler County, which is the largest county in Kansas and larger than the state of Rhode Island.

Butler County doesn’t have quite the same population density as Rhode Island, of course, but there are several thousand people living there in a couple dozen cities and small communities or on farms and ranches in the Flint Hills, famous as the largest remaining region of tall grass prairie in the United States. The Kansas Turnpike leads you over the Flint Hills, which extend from northern Kansas down into Oklahoma, but the highest point in the Flint Hills is in Butler county at 1,680 feet above sea level.

I don’t know if it was the high point or not, but Jerri drove me a half mile from her home in Rosalia one evening to show me the lights of El Dorado, thirteen miles to the west, from a hill that was at least twenty feet high.

I now look forward to our Kansas trips because they take us through the Flint Hills. If you plan a visit to Kansas, I recommend April or May when the hills are green. That’s the best time to enjoy viewing the thousands of beef cattle grazing on the slopes, the cottonwoods and osage orange trees along the streams and the ranch houses miles away in the valleys below you.

The Farm Bureau women were an important part of Butler County society when Jerri was growing up, and she recognizes many of the names in the cookbook. One of them is Betty Stucky, because she and her husband bought the farmhouse that Jerri’s family moved to from Moundridge, Kansas when her father decided to raise beef cattle instead of farming wheat.

Her family moved into Rosalia after a couple of years, but her father continued to graze cattle until after we were married. Jerri remembers the “farm” clearly because she would tag along with her brothers who drove out daily to milk the cows when she was six or seven years old.

The family renting the farmhouse at that time had a daughter about Jerri’s age that she liked to play with. One time when she was playing with Ruth Ann, Jerri deliberately stayed out of sight when her brothers finished the chores. They drove home five miles only to be sent back by their mother with instructions to find their sister.

After her first success, Jerri repeated the strategy a few more times. It ended when she told a friend at school how she managed to stay later at Ruth Ann’s. The friend told her father, who was the preacher at their church. He told Jerri’s mother and father, and such shenanigans ended shortly.

Jerri has made these bars many times, often for potlucks or funeral lunches. She likes it because you use only one pan to mix the batter, so if you like to wash cooking dishes, skip this recipe.

But they do taste good.


1 cup raisins
1 cup water
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts


Put the raisins and water into a two-quart saucepan and bring it to boiling. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the shortening. Cool the mixture to lukewarm. Preheat the oven to 350º and grease a 15 1/2 by 10 1/2-inch baking pan while the raisins are cooling.

Beat the sugar and egg into the lukewarm mixture.

Sift the dry ingredients together and beat them by half-cupfuls into the raisin mixture. Stir in the vanilla and chopped walnuts.

Pour the batter into the greased pan and bake on a center shelf for twelve minutes or until done. Test for doneness by pressing gently near the center of the pan. If the surface springs back up, the bars are done.

Cool to room temperature, dust lightly with powdered sugar and cut into bars.

This recipe makes about four dozen bars.

NOTES: Betty noted that you can frost the bars if you wish.

We don’t own a 15 1/2 by 10 1/2-inch pan, so Jerri bakes them in a regular 9 by 13-inch cake pan. This produces thicker bars, so you will have to bake them a few minutes longer. Incidentally, Jerri added the vanilla to the original recipe.