Take the challenge: Eat on $4 a day to see how hunger might feel

It’s the High Holy Days, and local food banks, the S.F.-based Jewish Family and Children’s Services and the Jewish hunger relief agency Mazon are sponsoring food drives at synagogues and other Jewish institutions to help combat hunger in our communities.

For the last two years I’ve also taken part in the San Francisco Food Bank’s Hunger Challenge, where participants eat as if they were on food stamps ($4 a day) for a week. The Hunger Challenge has raised awareness and literally tons of food donations for area food banks. For information about this year’s challenge, which starts Sunday, Sept. 12, please go to www.hungerchallenge. blogspot.com.

I thought developing a “budget” recipe for the fall Jewish holidays would be a good way to show some of the compromises and challenges of eating within such limitations, although being able to shop at several discount food stores gave me an advantage not everyone would have.

I adapted the recipe to make meat more of a flavoring and to avoid having to buy seasonings, but I think the cabbage rolls taste delicious no matter what they cost. The total cost was just $1.05 a serving, so I could make them with potatoes and steamed carrots on the side and still come in at about $1.25 per person for this meal, including buying the kosher meat and canned ingredients.

Hunger Challenge Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Serves 8

1 cup long-grain rice

1⁄2 cup raisins

1 large green cabbage

2 Tbs. oil

1 small onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 carrots, chopped

1 celery stalk, chopped

1⁄2 cup chopped mushrooms

1⁄2 lb. ground beef, 15 percent fat or less

1⁄4 tsp. and 1⁄8 tsp. salt

1⁄2 tsp. ground black pepper

dash hot pepper sauce

1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes, divided

1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce

1⁄4 tsp. sugar

1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar

Make rice according to package directions. Leave covered and set aside.

Soak raisins in 1⁄2 cup of hot water. Core cabbage and pull off 16 leaves plus extras if they are small. Submerge the leaves in a large pot of boiling water and cook covered until tender, about 4 minutes. Drain and cool. Chop remaining cabbage. Keep 3 cups and reserve the rest for another use.

In a large sauté pan, heat oil. Fry onions until golden, add garlic. Sauté and add 3 cups of chopped cabbage, carrots and celery. Sauté until softened. Add mushrooms, sauté for 3 minutes. Add beef, browning and breaking up any clumps. Add 1⁄4 tsp. salt, pepper and hot sauce. Add 1⁄2 can of crushed tomatoes. Combine well. Fluff rice. Mix well with meat mixture. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread 1⁄2 cup of the tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Place a heaping 1⁄4 cup of filling in the middle of a cabbage leaf. (Overlap two leaves if small.) Fold over the two shorter sides of the leaf. Fold over one of the longer sides, then the other. Place folded side down in the baking pan. Repeat.

Combine remaining tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes in a sauce pan, add drained raisins, 1⁄8 tsp. salt and the sugar. Heat through. Add vinegar. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Spread sauce over top of rolls.

Bake until heated through, approximately 40-45 minutes. Can be made ahead and reheated.

Faith Kramer
is a Bay area food writer. Her columns alternate with those of Louise Fiszer. She blogs her food at www.clickblogappetit.blogspot.com. Contact her at [email protected]

Faith Kramer
Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer and the author of “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen.” Her website is faithkramer.com. Contact her at [email protected].