Saturday, January 28, 2012

COMFORT FOOD... Gooey Buns from SacTown

The other day, my friend Diane Norton was talking about comfort food. She was looking to make 'Veal Goulash with Sauerkraut'. The recipe was in an old book called 'Luchow's German Cookbook'. My friends in New York City might remember a restaurant near Union Square in Manhattan… It had been there for 102 years, and dished-up German-Austrian food. The elegant restaurant had served as a hangout for a lot of New York's finest, even naming rooms after their favorites like Diamond Jim Brady and the actress Lillian Russell. Finally closing the door in 1984, Luchow's left behind a rich history… and a cookbook.

 I have fond memories of Knackwurst and Red Cabbage from Sam's Hof Brau... 17th & J in Sacramento. In the old days... when there was a crock of horseradish and three types of mustard on every table, oh, and the barrel of free pickles to die for. Your beer came in a frosted stein, and if you wanted a larger one, it came in a goblet shaped affair that was hard to lift, even when empty. I loved that old place, and I would have loved Luchow's too.

Diane's comfort food du jour is a veal stew served over sauerkraut. The modern recipe, taken from that old cookbook, recommended using Bubbie's Sauerkraut… Bubbie's is good, but I can go one better, as my sister Mariya makes delicious sauerkraut (organic, etc of course), and a new batch is fermenting as we speak. As soon as it's ready, I'm making 'Veal Goulash with Sauerkraut'.  And, Toni Franklin gave me some wonderful Smoked Paprika that will go toward making an authentic goulash.

So, I got to thinking… what is my Numero Uno comfort food. Like everyone else, I have my favorites, and who hasn't written the menu of their last meal… Mine is Garlic Sausages with Ranch Beans and Asparagus. When I was around six, my parents forced my sister and me to take swimming lessons. I didn't want to do it… I don't remember her reaction, but she was a goody~two~shoes type so probably pretended to like them. So, for what seemed like endless Saturday mornings, at 10a.m. sharp... they would try to drown me. Afterwards my Mom would take us over to my Grandmother's house for lunch. In an effort to get back in my good graces, they would always serve my favorite… Tomato soup with cut up hot dogs. I still like that, but instead of Campbell's Tomato, it's Wolfgang Puck's Tomato Basil, with a Louisiana Hot Link… I've become such a gourmet. But still not my all time favorite. That one, I've not had in a long time. It's called a Gooey Bun. I don't know where they came from, or why they are called that. I wish now, I had thought to ask my Mother the provenance.

GOOEY BUNS!!! A morsel of heavenly delight. Again, from my Grandmother Gay. I never did see her eat one though. She was funny that way. Every Thanksgiving, Gay would cook the turkey for our dinner, but she always had a slice of ham for herself… she hated turkey. Her meals were always made with a lot of love. My sisters will remember Gooey Buns, and my daughters too. I loved them! I have made them twice in my life that I can remember. Once in Sacramento when Gay had retired from Gooey Bun making, and once in Chicago.

However, I did assist in the making of Gooey Buns many times, when I was little. Gay would let me turn the crank on the meat grinder, as she fed in the Bologna Sausage. I was not allowed to do both. After the Gooey was made, the mixture was stuffed into hot dog buns, they were wrapped in tinfoil and popped into the oven. It seemed to take forever for them to cook. With the advent of the Microwave, that angst was solved.

It was almost a holiday, at least for me, when Gooey Buns would arrive at our house. We always had them at the jewelry store during the Christmas season, we worked so hard and had to grab food on the run. She made them for many years, but only occasionally … that way they were always special when I got them.

So, that is my Comfort Food… Gooey Buns! I am going to make them again.   I still have that old meat grinder, although the crank has gone missing over the years, so I may have to use a food processor... it has to be chopped up just right.  I don't know if you can even buy bologna sausage any more, I have some investigating to do.  I may have to use sliced balogny (as my grandmother would say)… perish the thought.

              But I do have that recipe card… my Comfort Food Legacy. From Gay with Love!

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