Archive | October 2013

Hallowe’en is coming soon, coming soon…

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October 31st. is Hallowe’en!  Not all countries celebrate this annual eve of spooks, witches and goblins.  In fact, as some countries, like Australia, are just getting into the fun, many people in Canada are opting out of this tradition that has been around for generations.

Why is that?  Is it getting too expensive?  Is it too gruesome?  Have we forgotten why we celebrate Hallowe’en in the first place?

Moving away from Hallowe’en activities could be due to all of the commercialism that surrounds the day.  Did you know that in Canada, Hallowe’en is the second largest grossing retail event, next to Christmas?

In many cases, it’s not necessarily the young kids who are into this buying frenzy: it’s the parents.  It is actually quite sad to see so many houses decorated with, in some cases, very expensive decorations.  Of course, there are plenty of dollar stores selling lots of plastic, non-recyclable decorations as well.

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There was a time when families would be creative and made decorations and even their costumes from things around their homes.  Costumes were made by the kids or sewn by moms.  It was exciting to see the little princess ball gowns made from mom’s old dresses or even the old lace kitchen curtains.  There were many cowboy outfits constructed from dad’s old shirts and hats. There were lots of theme costumes, too.  Remember when Sonic the Hedgehog and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were the hot costumes?  The costumes were not as gruesome or evil as they seem to be today.  Do we really need to dress in blood-drenched or missing body parts costumes?   Should our young children be exposed to these gruesome costumes and decorations?  I think not!

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When I was young, we couldn’t afford to buy candy or chips.  Even though potato chips only cost 10 cents a package, we were not able to buy any.

Needless to say, I looked forward to Hallowe’en.  I went out for candy with my brother and sister.  We made our costumes out of paper bags or mom’s old nylon stockings.  I also recall that we used old lipsticks and eyebrow pencils to draw on our faces.  The stockings were the best, I think, because when pulled tight, they could really distort our faces!  Now that was a “zombie” look!

My earliest recollection of going Trick-or-Treating was when I was 6 years old.  As soon as it got dark out, 4:30 or 5:00pm, we would dress in our warmest clothes and decorate our faces.  It usually snowed on or before October 31st. and it was often very cold outside.  The temperatures usually dropped to minus 10 or colder, just in time for Halloween night.

I remember thinking that I could fool our neighbours and they’d never know it was me!  I was quite disappointed one year when an elderly neighbour said to me, “Hi Petrosha”.  I was taken aback.  I remember thinking, “How in the world did he know it was me?”  When I asked, he said, “Every year you have the same brown Hallowe’en bag!”  I decided then and there that next year I would use a pillow case just like my brother.

I wonder whatever happened to that old brown bag?

With memories of happy times gone by, I wish all of you a safe and fun-filled Hallowe’en!

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‘Twas the day after Thanksgiving…

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Wishing you all a wonderful week of delicious left-overs from your Thanksgiving Day dinner!

Always so much turkey left over!

If you are like most families, you cooked a lot. You ate a lot and then ate some more. I  would bet that you still have lots of turkey left over.

Turkey sandwiches with cranberry are awesome.  So are Hot Turkey sandwiches covered in gravy!  So many casseroles to make too!  You can get many of these recipes from your family, your friends, cookbooks and the Internet.  Turkey left-over ideas are abundant!

More than likely, you’ll be eating a lot of Turkey Soup these days too.  Turkey soup can be the perfect companion on a cool Autumn evening.  But not all soups are created delicious.

Some people stay far away from this soup because the stock can be very bland and tasteless.  Adding lots of spices and vegetables sometimes may improve the flavour but not always.

Come on now.  Be honest and admit that you have tasted some “dish pan water” flavourless Turkey soups.  It wasn’t that long ago that no one in my family asked me for seconds of my Turkey soup!  What does that tell you?

Well, that’s old news and in the past because now I have a delicious Ukrainian turkey soup recipe for you to try.  Not really sure how it evolved over time but my family definitely asks for seconds now.  Let me know what you think.  This may be my best Turkey soup yet!

Check out my recipe under Not So Traditional Foods.

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On the Friday night before Thanksgiving….

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Happy Canadian Thanksgiving to all !

This is the long weekend and this is where we stop doing whatever we would normally do and take a break. School has been in full swing for a month now and having a three-day weekend is nice.

If young families are lucky, the crisp fall days will not be too cool and will not hinder squeezing in one more camping trip. A visit to the out-of-town grandparents is always a treat too.  But with the family or alone, just having a bit of time off of work is something to look forward to.

When I was younger, I do not recall Thanksgiving weekends at our house. I am sure that to a young kid it didn’t matter what the occasion. It was just a fact that we had a family dinner and everyone got together to visit. Our extended family, though small, was quite close. If we didn’t have the relatives over, then we were invited out to their house.

Mom and dad would invite my grandpa, uncles, aunts and cousins to come over after church for dinner. Now we are from the prairies and coming to dinner meant to come at 12:00 noon. Supper was served at 6:00pm.

We raised chickens on our small acreage and often had roast chicken for these Sunday dinners. But Thanksgiving was a special occasion and a huge turkey was purchased. I wonder if we ever got turkeys from Uncle Jack’s farm? I would assume that we did. As I mentioned in an earlier post, those turkeys loved my dad’s orange car!

But I really do not want to continue talking about thanksgiving dinner. No, when I think of this weekend, there’s other unique memories that come to mind.

Okay, so picture this…we race home from school with our paper bag turkey centre pieces.  As kids we were very excited because the teacher told us that we were so lucky to have fresh produce and good food to share with our families. We couldn’t wait for that pumpkin pie! We had a lot to be thankful for.

We lived in an agricultural area. Everyone, and I mean everyone either planted a vegetable garden or came out to a farm and helped the farmer take off his grain. Everything was ripe and getting harvested now. As kids, my brothers and sisters and I helped by picking the carrots, beets, cabbages and the potatoes.

The smell the fresh turned soil still lingers in my mind. We had a root cellar, made out of dirt and the vegetables were carried down there and stored for the winter months.

But there’s still another reason I loved this coming weekend. It was because of Friday and the часник and сметани (garlic and cream) buns. Mom would bake fresh buns in the afternoon and then just before supper, she would break the buns apart, add minced cloves of garlic (like 15 – 20) and pour in a pint of fresh farm cream.  Oh, I can hear you gasp! Yes, full of calories and high cholesterol ingredients. But that was it. That’s what we would have for supper. So delicious!

And why did we have these only on the Friday before a long weekend?  Well, by the time we went back to school on the following Tuesday, we did not have any lingering smell of garlic on us!

Our society is better now but it was tough back then for Ukrainians. My dad would often come home and say that the other men he worked with called him a  “garlic loving immigrant” or other words that I will not write here. We were not allowed to speak Ukrainian when at school either. We were told that we had to be Canadians now. So our parents were careful with us and wanted us to fit in with the other kids in the community.

If I had my way, I would of eaten часник  buns everyday!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

(Try the buns for yourself. I’ve added the recipe under Traditional Ukrainian Foods).

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