Recently assistant editor Lynda Twardowski took an afternoon trip to her grandparents’ in Gladwin for a virgin attempt at making golobki (pronounced gwumpki) just the way her grandmother, Regina Twardowski, does. Turns out Grandma Reg, born and raised in the Polish enclave of Hamtramck, Michigan, had quite a few tricks up her sleeve when it comes to creating her delectable, savory cabbage rolls. We’ve set out to replicate the flavor, honed over the years with a particular array of pantry staples, and the method, executed by feel, with ingredients added with assured shakes of the wrist. Lynda now knows how to check the seasoning with a dab of raw meat on the tongue after it’s mixed, how to form the filling into a perfect egg-shape with her hands, how to shave the raised rib of the cabbage leaf off with a paring knife so the golobki will roll up neat and tight.

Check out Regina Twardowski’s recipe for golobki, yielding enough to feed an army—or one hungry Polish family.

Photo(s) by Todd Zawistowski