A Slovak Kind of Christmas

Ok, yes, I know, it is so not Christmas any more.  But sometimes things get passed over and passed over until you realize that if you don’t post about it, you’re not ever going to post about it, so it’s time to post it.  So let’s rewind a month or so back to Christmas!

As I’ve mentioned before, G & I headed south to Mobile where my mother now lives to celebrate the holiday. While it wasn’t the most exciting or memorable holiday in memory, it did have a few stellar moments, one of those being Christmas Eve dinner, which G & I made true to his Slovak roots.

The Christmas Eve dinner traditionally is served in 12 courses (to symbolize the 12 apostles) and each course is traditionally meatless–and vegan to boot! Why exactly the dinner is vegan, I’m having issues figuring out, other than that it’s probably symbolic of fasting or abstaining from more lush foods, but the fact that a traditional dinner for centuries has been vegan is pretty darn awesome in my book. G & I decided to serve four courses, focusing on his favorite foods that they make every year at his home in Pittsburgh, and I have to admit that while the house smelled like cabbage for an inordinately long time, I really enjoyed the tradition. Coming from a family with no real historical roots, it was nice to have something solid to celebrate with for the holiday. While some dishes worked better than others, I think with some tweaking I could definitely get behind the pre-Christmas cabbage tradition, and bless the Slovaks for going vegan on us for once!

First course at our table was the Slovak Christmas Soup–a soup consisting of vegetable broth, sauerkraut juice, onion, rice, mushrooms, and salt & pepper. Because I can’t help but meddle with things, I used brown rice instead of white rice and added a bunch of spinach to the pot to lend some greenness to the dish. The soup was my favorite course, I think, though it’s hard to decide between it and the bobalkis. Bobalkis in the soup, maybe, would make that choice for me!

Second was the traditional pea soup, and, seriously, how can you beat a Christmas Eve dinner with split pea soup? I may or may not have put two or three different recipes for the soup on my site already. I’m only minorly obsessed with it… This split pea soup is uber basic, but in its simplicity, I think it’s hard to beat: split green peas, potatoes, oil, onion, water, salt & pepper. While my mom may have lamented the loss of ham, I, for one, enjoyed the smoke-less flavor of the soup and thought it paired nicely with the other courses.

Our third course was the contender for my favorite: bobalkis & fried sauerkraut. Bobalkis are simply small yeast rolls that are boiled and then fried in a sauerkraut. To the sauerkraut, I added some diced granny smith apple to edge off some of the tangy bite, and paired with the soft bobalkis, I thought the dish was great. Will it win an award for healthiest dish? Nope. But it’s satisfying!

Last but not least were the halupkis (stuffed cabbage). G was most looking forward to this course, but I think our lack of a pressure cooker (which his mother uses to quick cook the halupkis) lended to a more watery and mushy stuffed cabbage. I think they were good, but could have been better. Next year I’ll have to improve on it fo sho. The cabbage leaves were stuffed with a mixture of mushrooms sauteed with onion and cooked rice, and then slow cooked in a pot with layers of sauerkraut, water, and diced tomatoes. My favorite part of the dish was learning how to make stuffed cabbage, since I’ve been wanting to for years, but been to skittish to actually do it. Now I know! Huzzah! And I’m think of braising my next batch in the oven. Mmm.

Overall, a successful & delicious Christmas Eve and a tradition I’m really loving! While I may have changed a few things here or there, I tried to stick to the old recipes as faithfully as possible, and the fact that it’s an all-vegan meal really jazzed my socks. Vegan Slovak food, who knew?!

Comments
9 Responses to “A Slovak Kind of Christmas”
  1. JennShaggy says:

    Aww thank you so much :) We like to pride ourselves on being sexy beasts haha.

    As for the salad, yes. I dared to post a salad recipe in the wintertime. With success…so thank you for the positive feedback.

    Hope you’re well!

  2. Jessica says:

    I am unfamiliar with Slovak food but this looks pretty good, especially the mushroom soup. The fried rolls sound interesting, too. What an interesting Christmas tradition to start, I bet you can get those halupkis just right next time.

  3. lazysmurf says:

    That is similar to what my Serbian family has for Christmas eve, I don’t know about Slovaks but we do a vegan fast for I think 40 days until Christmas day.

  4. Beth says:

    Sounds like you and G have started a lovely Christmas tradition. Those recipes sound intriguing.

    I’m happy to hear (in your earlier post) that you love teaching. The teachers I always loved most were the ones who were passionate about it.

  5. How cool! I’m dreaming, of a Slovak Christmas…

  6. Bruce says:

    “not the most exciting or memorable holiday”?
    You got to see me!!

  7. PAT TAVALSKY says:

    I have been making the Slovak meal for 50 yrs. I learned it from my Mother in law when we married 50 yrs. ago.
    Our children do not know any different and all look so forward to this special meal and all of its blessings.
    I pray one of my daughters carries this tradition on when I no longer can. Also, we decided to put Christ back in Christmas this year, 2012, and not exchange any gifts at all. All were in favor of this decision. Praise God!

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