Contestant, Wisconsin State Fair, 2013


Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance



Wisconsin State Fair

August 4, 2013




SARMA (For Slava)

Bozica Blagojevic, Greenfield. Wisconsin



I was born in Jasenica, Bosnia. This is where I grew up, went to school and, married and raised three beautiful boys. My mother, as her mother did, taught me everything I needed to become a good wife and mother. I had a beautiful house and a garden to keep my family well fed. Then the war came in 1990. It started in Slovenia, then escalated in 1992. Life changed dramatically. Opposition soldiers would come into my house anytime of day and eat our food and get drunk. They didn’t care how my husband or I felt about this. They didn’t care if they showed my sons theirguns and at times, point them towards the boys. My father was murdered and left in a park for five days, unknown to us, till someone found his body. Other families went through the same horror. Men in the community would take turns to guard the houses at night, so the women and children could feel a little more safe. The bombings also got too dose to the house. I have a piece of shrapnel imbedded above my ankle. It is a strong reminder of what my family endured. After years of this, my family decided it was time to leave everything behind. So, in 1993 we left. We could only take what we could carry. We had to leave the house as if we were still there. We could tell no one we were going, because it could cost us our lives if the opposition found out. We walked in two groups of fourty-eight; us being in the second group. We walked in the woods, so that we wound not be detected by the opposition. At one time, I lost one of my sons, but, somehow we found him. It was was raining and we were scared. We walked for thirteen hours before we found other Serbian people in Broko. Fighting was no longer in this area, so after finding an abandoned house, we settled here for seven years. In the year 2000, we came to America and settled in Milwaukee. We were able to live again without fear of war. The memories of what my mother taught me became reality again. I could have a beautiful house and garden and keep the family traditions strong. One tradition that is important for all Serbian famlies is the Slava. Slava is the tradition of the ritual glorification of one’s family patron saint. This is celebrated on the saint’s feast day. It is the most significant and solemn feast day. The SIava is inherited from father to son. Meat and dairy are prohibited during this time, seven weeks before the Slava. My Slava is St. Nicholas, celebrated on December 9. On the day of the Slava, the family attends church and participates in Holy Communion. Following services, the priest comes to the familys home or the family brings a Slava Bread (Slavski Kolac) to the church. The priest performs a small service to remember the Slava’s memory, blessing the bread and lighting the Slava candle. I make Sarma all the time. My recipe is a recipe that has been passed down for hundreds of years. My Grandmother made Sarma using walnuts, so that we could enjoy this during the time before our SIava. The war took away everything I had, but it could not destroy my traditions. And so I brought this tradition to my new home.




SARMA (For Slava)

Bozica Blagojevic, Greenfield. Wisconsin


1 large head (about 3 pounds) cabbage

2 T. oil

2 medium onions. chopped

6 C. cooked rice

6 C. chopped walnuts

1 t. finely chopped garlic

1 1/2 t. black pepper

1 1/2 t. paprika

1 1/2 t mixed vegetable seasoning (found in European stores)

2 C. tomato sauce



Heat large saucepan of salted water oyer medium-high heat to boiling. Remove wilted or bruised outer leaves from cabbage; cut out and discard core. Loosen leaves at base. Drop into boiling water; when water returns to boil, cook. uncovered. 3 minutes. Drain, then rinse under cold running water.


Remove to paper towels to drain again. Choose the largest leaves: set aside. Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion; saute. stirring frequently, till lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes.


Add rice, walnuts, garlic, 3/4 t. pepper, paprika and vegetable seasoning. Stir well till well mixed: remove from heat.


Pat the leaves dry with paper towelling; place, one at atime, on work sur­face, outer side of leaf down. Sprinkle with some of remaining pepper. Place 1/3 C. of filling near base of cabbage leaf.; turn base of leat over filling. Fold both sides of leaf toward the center; then roll up. Set aside, seam down.


Repeat with remaining cabbage leaves.


Arrange rolls, seam side down in casserole. Add tomato sauce. Cover with a tight fitting lid; cook over low heat for 2 hours. Arrange on plate and spoon juice over rolls. Serve.

18 Rolls