Hippie Food and Me

Our current selection from Cook the Books Club, is being hosted by fellow Hawaiian, Deb of Kahakai Kitchen. Much of this well researched tome, Hippie Food by Jonathan Kauffman, echos my own history.  I lived this darn book, some of it anyway.  Caught up in the world directly around us as we were, much of what Kauffman recorded was part of the "Mainland" story or only hearsay.  We were hippies, Bob and I, of a sort, back-to-the-landers (if you can go back to where you never were in the first place) in rural Hawaii.  Building a basic, simple home, planting trees, a garden and etc. However, we were under no illusions about supporting ourselves solely by farming, and had no inclination to live off the State.  So, day jobs. Me with commercial art and raising our daughter.  Bob in Real Estate.  Also, coming to know Jesus was a large factor in our staying together and staying sane through it all.  Plus, setting aside some unhealthy drugs was a big help with that too.

As far as food goes, Kauffman focuses mainly on the vegetarian aspect of "hippie food", which I don't think really merited all that emphasis.  We had a very short period of interest in vegetarianism while backpacking in Southeast Asia, China and Japan, before acquiring our parcel of land in Hawaii.  So would agree with what he said (page 198) about the counterculture taking up "the idea of eating as a political act and converted millions of people to vegetarianism, at least for a year or two."  But, helping at our food c-op, making home cooked meals, granola, and bread, cutting out processed foods, and trying to stay with organically raised produce, was definitely a priority for us then and remains so. I have researched the subject, and would encourage everyone to do that.  Find out for yourself why eating organically raised, less processed food is so important.

Kauffman covered numerous large and small activist movements, splinter groups, communes, leaders, organizers, food co-ops, hippy style cafes, restaurants, health food and natural food stores, etc., etc., very historical, but a lot of it didn't resonate all that much with me. TMI, and not all to do with food, though there was plenty of food inspiration in the book overall.

Thus, when he  mentioned a particular vegetarian restaurant serving Barley and Mushroom Spinach Rolls, that's what I hit on. Who knows where in the book it was?  My Kindle died, just when I'd finished reading it, so now it's not available to go back and check.  Until next week when my new one arrives.  All things being equal.  I usually make my spinach rolls with a meat filling, so this is an homage to Kauffman's version of hippie food -  vegetarian.  If you use a vegetable only stock, that is.  More about my particular garden spinach here.

On that subject, albeit nothing to do with the book, except in a round about way, at this moment I have a large ham curing in brine in my fridge's crisper drawer.  Which is its own story.  Our good friends had pigs wrecking havoc in their garden, so my intrepid grandson took one out the other night and gave us a 7 lb.leg.  I immediately thought -  that's what ham is made from!  Right?  So....the rest is history in the making.  I was very happy to find a recipe for the "city cure", not having a smokehouse or the kind of cold weather needed to let it hang out for a so-called country cure. The fat of the land here. Only one of the reasons we are not vegetarians.  But I digress.

I found this lovely recipe for the Mushroom Barley Spinach Rolls at Food.com, and made a few adaptations. Sounds as though there are some Polish roots here.

Golobki: Barley and Mushroom-Stuffed Cabbage

YIELD: 24 cabbage rolls or as many spinach rolls as you have leaves to stuff


1 large head green cabbage or spinach leaves, as many as you like, keeping in mind that this recipe is enough for 24 rolls (I made 5)
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped (3/4 c.)
¼ lb mushrooms, finely chopped
1 ½ cups cooked medium pearl barley
½ lemon, juice of (1 tbsp.)
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon salt (to taste)
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
¼ cup finely minced flat leaf parsley
2 cups hot beef stock, preferably homemade (or vegetarian stock)
3/4 cup sour cream or 3/4 cup creme fraiche
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh dill

  • Cut the core from the cabbage. Bring a very large amount of water to a boil in a deep stockpot and carefully drop the whole head of cabbage into the boiling water. Parboil for 10 to 15 minutes, until leaves are soft and pliable. Remove head of cabbage from water with a two-pronged fork inserted into the coring hole, with a wide spatula for supporting the bottom. Drain and let cool.  Or, if using spinach leaves, just very briefly par-boil the leaves first- 5 seconds or so.
  • When cabbage has cooled, carefully separate the leaves and stack them together. With a small, sharp knife cut and remove an inverted "V" out from the thick part of the ribs, so the leaves will lie flat.
  • Melt the butter in a nonstick pan and sauté the onions until wilted. Add the mushrooms and barley and cook for 3 minutes. Add lemon juice through parsley and cook for 1 minute, then set aside to cool.
  • Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the filling onto the center of each cabbage leaf; smaller leaves take less, larger leaves take more. Fold the sides of each leaf over the filling first, then roll up from the cut stem side to enclose the filling, like making a loose burrito. Do not over-fill, or roll too tightly, or they will burst from the expansion while cooking!
  • Place the rolls seam-side-down in one layer in a large skillet or sauté pan with deep sides. Slowly pour the hot stock around the rolls, cover, and simmer over very low heat for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  If using spinach and pre-cooked barley, this should be ½ hour-45 min. max.
  • Remove the rolls and place them in one layer on a serving platter and keep them warm while preparing the sauce.
  • Pour the remaining cooking liquid into a cup; there should be about 1/3 cup. Strain the liquid, wipe out the skillet, and return the strained liquid to it. Stir in the sour cream and the dill. Cook over very low heat, stirring, for 2 minutes. Spoon the sauce over the cabbage rolls and serve at once.

This was a lovely, delicate tasting dish, with subtler flavors than my usual meat fillings.  I served it over egg noodles, and with a bit of my homemade Kim Chi on the side. We both liked it a lot.  

There's still plenty of time for you to read this current selection, and cook up something to post about.  By May 31st.  Bring it to the party, all are welcome!  Cook the Books Club.  Check the link for the rules.  I'll also share this link at Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking event, with Heather for the April Foodies Read Challenge, and thanks Mae, adding in a new link to In My Kitchen (IMK), hosted by Sherry in Australia.  It fits with my new use for a fridge crisper drawer, and of course the cooking.


A Day in the Life on the Farm said...

Love this vegetarian version of Golabki. Anxious to try it. I think all of us boomers are hippies at heart.

Debra Eliotseats said...

I loved hearing your story! I was a bit in between the hippie stage and the 80's me-me-me movement. :) I think I might covet some of your experiences. Such an interesting post with the "local" ham as well. I have no idea what I am going to make. Great dish here, though!

Deb in Hawaii said...

Loved your post! I am glad you were able to finish before your Kindle died. Your stuffed cabbage looks so delicious and I am very impressed with your crisper drawer & "city cure" ingenuity! ;-) Thanks for joining in.

Beth F said...

I have this book on my list -- I was just a couple of years too young to be a hippie, but so remember the early days of vegetarian food ... so many grain loaves!!! Your cabbage sounds good, and yay for the Kindle holding out.

Liz said...

Yep, they got it right. I was a vegetarian for about 2 years back in the day. But, I want to hear more about your ham adventure.

Claudia said...

Liz, more on the ham later, when it's nicely glazed and cooked up!

Carole said...


Marg said...

I am reading this at the moment for Cook the Books. It's outside of my comfort zone but there have been a couple of aha moments so far.

Tina said...

Thats a great story and I wish I had grabbed a copy of the book for the CtB selection. Back in the 1070's my then husband and I traveled around Europe for 18 months with a old van. We also had our moments with culture and drugs and hoped to stay, settle down there somewhere and start a farm. LOL

Nice inspiration for the golabki and I love the story about how you got the ham. Great post.

Laurie C said...

We missed the countercultural 70s by just a few years, but in the mid-80s we moved to the country (Vermont) and ate vegetarian for five years. Then with three children and not enough income, we moved and changed just about everything about our lifestyle, except for homeschooling which we kept up for a while longer! I still have a lot of vegetarian cookbooks and am not entirely comfortable preparing recipes with meat. When our adult children make what seem to us like crazy decisions, I only have to remember some of the things we did to make it easy to keep my mouth shut! :D

Sherry's Pickings said...

i love barley and i love mushrooms so this dish sounds like it would be a winner. hubby and i were vegos for about a decade but the siren call of bacon lured us back eventually:) Thanks for joining in IMK this month; lovely to have a newbie in the group. Wow. your grandson sounds very intrepid. did he chop up the hog, or did you?:-)

Claudia said...

I was pleased to discover your site Sherry. My grandson had some help with the butchering, our friends whose garden the pigs were disturbing, the husband anyway. She messaged me the story.

Sherry's Pickings said...

thanks claudia!

gluten Free A_Z Blog said...

This looks absolutely delicious! Maybe a little labor intensive, but looks worth it..

Tandy | Lavender and Lime (http://tandysinclair.com) said...

Love the sound of these Barley and Mushroom Spinach Rolls :)

Delaware Girl Eats said...

My mom's family is Hungarian, and stuffed cabbage rolls were part of many a sunday dinner table. They were made the traditional way with ground meat. This is an interesting twist. Thanks for posting

Simona Carini said...

Thank you for sharing your story. As you know I am a big fan of your garden, so whatever the reason to start that, the result is fabulous. Barley makes a nice stuffing for large green leaves and it goes well with mushrooms: great choice of recipe :)