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Bread making is a Science?

I was trying to think of a title for this blog and the story of the Gingerbread Boy came to mind.  I am sure that you know the one – “Run, run as fast as you can, you can’t catch me…..”.  I came up with this title because sometimes dough can just get away from you.

I made some bread this morning and as I was kneading it and setting it out for rising, I recalled a bread making adventure from a few years ago.

My brother and I had the great idea one day to make bread together.  Yes, you are right.  This is the same brother that I have written about before.  He is the one who kept getting me in trouble.  But to be fair, this one time it wasn’t all his fault.  Have a read and see what you think.

One Summer, my brother and I attended university together in the month of July.  I believe we were taking the same Science course at Summer school.  We shared an apartment and one day before our afternoon class decided to go shopping for groceries.

We had gone down to the local grocery store and while walking down the frozen food section, we saw some frozen dough.

“Hey, instead of buying some bread we should make our own”, I had exclaimed to my brother.  He agreed.  We figured that we would save a lot of money and have fresh delicious homemade bread.

To be honest, neither one of us knew a lot about cooking back then but I had seen my mom make bread.  I knew we could do it.  So, we bought the economy pack that had five loaves in it.

After purchasing our groceries, we went home and unpacked our groceries.  We kept the frozen dough loaves out of the fridge because we knew that the dough needed to thaw before baking.  We would bake when they had thawed.

But first, we did have our afternoon Science class that we had to dash off to.  So we kept the package in the grocery bag on the kitchen counter.  We’d bake after class.

I’m pretty sure you already know what happened.

After we returned from our one hour lecture, the dough had thawed.  In fact, it was not only thawed, but it had risen very well.  The dough had split open its plastic wrapping and splayed itself all over the counter.  It covered our entire kitchen counter and rose up under the upper cupboard shelves and was slowly making its way down over the edge onto the floor!  It was like an octopus sliding out of its nest.  Yes, it was scary!

My brother and I now have a good laugh over  this.  Back then it was not funny.  It was however a lesson to learn.   To this day, we both recall learning about rising dough very well.  We can’t say the same about that Science lecture at Summer school that we attended.

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To Bake or Not to Bake…part 2

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Not yet cooked holubsti

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Cooked and ready to freeze!

 

I was chatting with a friend yesterday and she reminded me that I hadn’t blogged about the Holubsti and their baking technique question that I posed to you, my readers.  Well, here’s what you told me.

Of all the replies that I received, the responses were mixed.  I certainly didn’t realize that there were so many ways to freeze and then cook holubsti.

Most people did NOT bake them in the oven first.  The main reason was “because they will be soggy when thawed”.  Some people did not even thaw them first.  They popped them into the oven still fully frozen.  One of my long time friends told me that she tried steaming cooked ones in a fry pan from the frozen state – and they literally fell apart.

Now at our house during the Christmas season, I did my own little (non-scientific however) experiments and found out that my family and relatives could not tell the difference between the ones I cooked and froze first from the ones that were not cooked and frozen.  I do bake them in the oven regardless of how they were prepared prior to freezing.  I have never tried steaming them or frying them.

So no consensus!  I guess we all have our own “passed down” ways and until I am totally embarrassed with “soggy” holubsti, I will continue to cook them just like my mom used to …..cook first and then freeze.

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To bake ? Or not to bake ?

Happy 2018 everyone !

December 25, 2017 flew by and a week later…swish, so did the welcome in of our New Year.

Now it is January 5, the day before Ukrainian Christmas Eve and once again, the clock seems to spin those hands faster every year.  My theory is that the world is just spinning faster; but in reality, I think when one gets older, we are that much more aware of the days and time.

But wait, as usual I digress from what I really wanted to write about. Actually, it’s something I need to ask you about.

Like the title of this post asks….To bake or not to bake? ….I need your thoughts on cooking holobsti.

I am having a gang over for Ukrainian Christmas Eve and like you, I want to have everything cooked ahead of time.  So this year, I want to know what’s the better, tastier way to prepare holobsti?

Please tell me what you do.  Do you make your cabbage rolls, cook them and then freeze them?  Or, do you make your cabbage rolls and freeze them, cooking them the day of your dinner?

Please comment but before you do let me tell you that I am actually trying out both ways as I write this blog.  I’ll let you know how they turn out.  So, please make a comment below.  I’m always up for learning new ways!

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Cookie Season

“The snow crunches under my feet as I climb the back porch stairs.  I stamp my snowboots and shake off as many of the snowflakes that have landed on my toque and parka.  My warm breath has made my scarf over my mouth wet and damp.  Brrr, I think to myself.  Can winter evenings be any colder than this?  I’m guessing that it must be -25C outside right now.  I just want to get out of this cold.  Oh, please, let it be nice and warm inside our house.”

This is just one recollection that I have of growing up on the Canadian prairies.  We had snow!  We had winds!  We had freezing temperatures!  It was often so dark outside by 4:00 in the afternoon that you couldn’t see right in front of you.  It was always a relief to get home and walk into a warm house.

But you know what I recall even better than just getting out of the cold?

It was the smell of home cooked meals and fresh-from-the-oven baking.

My mom was an excellent cook and we enjoyed many delicious dinners.  Each night we always had a “meat and potato” dinner.  Sometimes it was mashed potatoes; or perogies or holubsti; maybe roast chicken; and always a variety of vegetables that had been grown in our own garden.  I sometimes start to drool even thinking about these dinners.

But what really got to me back then and even today was the baking.  The smells of fresh from the oven baking!  Mom’s cookies and cakes were heavenly.  She always had some kind of dessert for us to follow our dinners.

My favourites were her cookies.  Believe it or not, she could make delicious cookies out of zucchini, turnips and carrots!  I think I have enough of her collection of traditional cookie recipes to warrant a section of their own here in my blog.  I am going to add many of my mom’s original cookie recipes to this blog one of these days.

But for today, I would like you to take a look at one of these tasty cookie recipes.  It only has 3 main ingredients, but as many add-ons as you wish!  Carrot Cake Cookies

Take a look. Let me know what you think.

Maybe they will make you want to come in from the cold too.

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September….already!

Autumn is a good time to sit back and take a look at all the hard work you put into planting, watering, feeding and weeding that garden of yours.  Well, it is at our house.

It is hard to believe that it’s now the month of September.  The Summer months have zipped by so quickly.  But wait.  That is not entirely true because if you have been following me on my blog, you will know that My Man and I have had a very long and busy Summer.

We celebrated Canada’s 150 year celebrations with many friends and family.  We also enjoyed ourselves at two weddings this July and August.

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It was great to see so many people that we haven’t seen for a few years.

Our weather was hot and dry.  Yes, dare I say, it was almost too hot?  No rain since June. Temperatures have been in the mid to high 30C.  Nice if you can stay out of the blazing sun.  Because of the BC fires in the interior, it has been rough for many people who had to evacuate from their homes.

The sun struggles to shine through the smoke in the air.

So it is no surprise that today’s cooler temperatures and spotty rain showers are welcomed by all around here.  The grass is standing a little bit taller and that garden that we are looking at today…well, it looks ready for harvesting.

Think I will go and see what may need to be picked.  Maybe the tomatoes?

If you have an abundance of tomatoes, why not check out my latest tomato soup recipe.Creamy Tomato and Basil Soup

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Vareniki, Perohi, Perogies…Oh, My!

Fried Perogies

A dumpling with so many name variations!  No matter what name they go by in your house, perogies are delicious!

Many Ukrainian food sites state that Varenyky aka perogies or pyrohy, are a main staple of Ukrainian immigrants.

I would agree that in the past, perogies were served at most meals but because many of us watch our intake of heavy foods (high in carbohydrates), perogies are mainly served now for special occasions and special times of the year.  They are basically small parcels of dough that are stuffed with various fillings.  No pyrohy is ever eaten without sour cream and fried onions! (Well, at least not in our house).

Various regions in the Ukraine have their own versions of a varenyky. The fillings that most of us in Canada are accustomed to are made with potato and onion, or potato and cheese.  However, they can also be filled with a variety of fruit, poppy-seed, mushrooms, buckwheat, sauerkraut and even chocolate-covered cherries!   Varenyky Fillings

The recipes for homemade perogies are on my Pages under Traditional Ukrainian Dishes .

These recipes posted are my favourites.  One is my mom’s original recipe  and I include one from my sister and my sister-in-law.  They are all very good, but I find that the one made with the cream of tartar to be the easiest to handle.

I am always experimenting with various filings and would love to hear what you favourite fillings may be.

So, as you can see, I have used the word varenyki and perogies interchangeably in the above text.  “A rose by any other name?”

Whatever you call them at your house……..enjoy!

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Ukrainian Beet Leaf Holubsti #2

It is the season for fresh beet leaves from our gardens.  I have just added another recipe for fresh Beet Leaf Rolls and Holubsti, Ukrainian style.

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Beet Leaf Holubsti #2  is similar to my other recipes Ukrainian Beet Rolls and  Ukrainian Beet Leaf Holubtsi.

I am providing a recipe that will produce softer buns and the rising time is shorter.

So if your mouth is watering as you read these recipes or you are feeling nostalgic for tasty days gone by….check out the Beet Leaf recipes on my pages Traditional Ukrainian recipes.

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Beet Leaf Holubsti, without sauce

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