Grandma Crippes has some of my favorite recipes, but I’ve realized I get my cooking skills from my maternal side — they’re all tinkerers.
Our family’s potato dumplings recipe starts with my great-grandmother, Rose Wesolowski, but it now barely resembles the dish she made. She was a noted cook in her small Wisconsin town, with recipes in church cookbooks bearing her name.
She made kluski i kapusta, Polish for dumplings and cabbage. Kluski is a catch-all for noodles and dumplings, so there are plenty of ways to make it. Many recipes call for potatoes, eggs and flour. She used potatoes and flour.
Her daughter, my grandma, Rosemary Verbrugge, updated the recipe to add leftover meat and remove the cabbage to satisfy my grandpa.
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Thankfully, she kept making it for her kids, usually frying it with onions and sometimes adding gravy.
I say thankfully because mom Barb Trask kept making it better and passed it on. Maybe it’s because I’ve been eating it my whole life, but Mom nailed it. She kept the meat, using ham, added cream with the butter, and thanks to my stepdad, peas.
Since the dish isn’t a casserole — it’s usually sauteed in a skillet — I mixed up mom’s recipe a bit for a casserole.
It’s delicious. Although the dumplings are a pain, family history help make it a perfect comfort food.