To Bake or Not to Bake…part 2


Not yet cooked holubsti


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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Celebrating Each and Every Day

Easter, “Velikdenn” – “The Great Day” is here this weekend and like many of you, I am busy preparing our Easter basket and other foods to share with our family and friends.

When I woke up this morning, I had decided to make a butter lamb for the Easter basket that I would be bringing to church to be blessed.  As I mentioned in an earlier post on Ukrainian Easter, we take a basket of special traditional foods to be blessed and then shared with our family on Easter morning.

As I prepared the ingredients and started shaping the butter into a lamb’s body shape, I thought about the time that my sister-in-law made a lamb for us.

SIL is a very special person in our family and in many ways sometimes seems more Ukrainian than I am.


SIL is English-speaking  and did not grow up Catholic.  Now over the years that she has been married to my brother, she has learned some of the Ukrainian language as well as many of the customs and traditions.  She is an amazing cook and I have borrowed many of her recipes over the years.  Her holubsti are so much tastier than mine will ever be !

But I digress.  I started thinking about her and this lamb because a few years back, SIL offered to make My Man and I a butter lamb for an anniversary dinner.  At first, I thought great…it’ll be so yummy.  I love eating lamb but had never seen it prepared like butter chicken (so I assumed).  Little did I know.  SIL laughed and said “No, no.  I’ll make you a butter lamb for your dinner table.  It’s butter and we’ll spread it on our bread and buns.”

She then proceeded to cut into a pound of butter and shape a small animal into it. The animal was a lamb.

Maybe I’m just being nostalgic this weekend but I am very thankful for my sister-in-law and I want her to know it.  I now know how to make my own butter lamb. Thank You SIL!

I don’t think we say we are grateful to our family or friends enough.

As we celebrate this Easter weekend, let’s not just think about the food however.  Let’s think about the wonderful people who share our daily lives.  Let’s celebrate these busy yet fun family and friend times now, each and every day.

“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”

Happy Easter.  Khrystos Voskres.

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Easter Baking (Korovai Birds)

Easter is fast approaching so I did a bit of baking today.

Dough Birds

I have a few followers who, like myself, enjoy twisting and braiding bread for special occasions.  I have been asked to demonstrate how I make bread dough doves. I use a Kolach dough.  It’s a bit firmer than regular bread dough and is easier to roll out and twist around the fingers.

To begin, break off a small piece of dough and roll evenly to approximately 12 inches in length.  I keep it fairly thin (about the diameter of a pencil).

Divide these rolls into smaller segments, about 3 – 4 inches. 

Take one end and cross it over as shown. 

Insert one end gently through the center and this becomes the bird’s head.  Squeeze the tip to form a beak.

I then flatter out the tail and put 2 – 3 slits in it to resemble the tail feathers.

Bake at 350F. for 10 minutes, but keep an eye on them.  As soon as the beaks start to darken and turn golden brown, take them out of the even.  I use egg wash to add poppy seed eyes.

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Spring Time Thoughts

It’s Easter weekend and I would normally write about my childhood memories as they relate to the upcoming Easter events.  However when I woke this morning, I was feeling rather melancholy.  Not too sure why but it must have to do with Easter.

Pysanky play an important part in traditional Ukrainian Easter customs.

You see yesterday I was on Skype with my family back East.  Everyone in my brother’s family was writing Ukrainian Easter eggs (Pysanky).  Now writing and colouring eggs is a very happy time and a tradition that I highly encourage everyone to participate in.  It was great to see my nieces, nephews and their partners busy heating up their kistkas, melting the beeswax and drawing on their eggs.  Great care and so much concentration was evident as their designs evolved on the eggs.  Not every egg was of a traditional Ukrainian design either.  Oh no, there were puppies and even Minions drawn on the delicate eggshells.  It was wonderful to see.

When I was growing up it was an expectation that everyone in the family set aside a couple of nights prior to Easter Sunday and make a Pysanka.  Even the child as young as two was given an opportunity to hold a kistka over a candle and then draw on an egg.   After the drawings (mostly scribbles), the eggs were immersed in the colourful dyes.  The little ones took great delight in watching the colours come to life as the wax melted away.  It wasn’t the greatest design but it was a start.


This was a special time when family members could be together.  It was a time to pass down traditions and tell stories of the “good old days”.  I recall when families gathered around the kitchen table or beside the wood stove and had face-to-face conversations.  One person I know called it “fire talking”.  Not sure where those stories went to.  Not sure where the time has gone to.

I am making an assumption that technology today has a lot to do with the “togetherness” time.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m not complaining about Facebook, Twitter or email.  I am just saying that it is the “table talk” that seems to be missing in many, many families.

So this Easter weekend, may you find a way to share time with those who are very important to you.  As I get older, I realize more and more that time is the one thing that quickly zips by in our life’s journey.

Spend time with those you love.  Maybe go to church and share in the blessing of the Easter paska.  Enjoy the paska on Easter morning and share in some family time.  Maybe you would like to decorate a Pysanky or two and pass on a tradition.   Or maybe, just sit down at your kitchen table and talk.


Христос воскрес !  Happy Easter everyone !


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Easter Dinner plans

It’s been a while since I posted.  I have been rather busy like most people I know.  I have recently retired and find that I no longer have time to do “anything”!

Actually that’s not true.  I do a lot but I’m doing what I want to do, when I want to do it.

One of the things I’m working on right now is adding to my Recipes here on my blog.  With Easter just around the corner in a couple of weeks, it’s time to plan out the dinner menus.

Funny!  Hmm, I just remembered something about making dinner plans and the telephone party-lines!

phone2-1024x812My mom used to call up my aunt on her farm to discuss recipes, menus and who was bringing what to the next family gathering.  The conversation went something like this:

Mom picked up the telephone receiver.


Mom:  “Hi Janice. Can you ring up 66 ring 4 for me?

My Aunt:  “Hello? Oh, hi Неллі . Уак справи ?”

Mom: “Добре. Say, what you making for dinner next Sunday?”

And then………my mom and aunt would hear click. Then another click.

Yes, that’s right. Other people on the party-line would pick up their telephones and listen in. At times, some of the women would even speak up and add their own menu and recipe ideas.

old_box_telephoneHow times have changed.  Today some homes do not even have a landline.

But you know what we still have?

Yes, Easter dinners.  Check out my Easter recipes and Traditional recipes on my pages.

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Happy Easter ! Христос Воскрес!


Христос Воскрес !                                                                         Christ is Risen !

Зі світлим празником                                             We wish you and your families

Христового Воскресіння                                        a joyous Easter!  May the peace

пересилаємо вам і вашій                                       and love of the Risen Christ

родині найщиріші побажання.                                descend upon you and remain

радости, миру, щедрого.                                         with you always.

Божого благословення та.                                                 Indeed He is Risen !

веселих Великодніх Сват !

Воістину Воскрес !



Ukrainian Easter Pysanky

It’s the time of year for me to once again commandeer the kitchen table and spread out my pysanky decorating materials.  It’s a family tradition and all of us in our family enjoy decorating the pysanky.

Triangles on eggs symbolize trios such as air, fire and wind, and most recently the Holy Trinity.

Triangles on eggs symbolize trios such as air, fire and wind, and most recently the Holy Trinity.

I started decorating Easter eggs when I was only around two years old.  I remember looking forward to when Mom would get out the kistkas, the beeswax and the colourful dyes.  We would collect the freshest eggs from the henhouse and then give them a gentle vinegar wash.  Even if our lines were crooked and our colours smudged into one another, my brother, sister and I got to add our egg to the family Easter basket.

On Easter Sunday, the pysanky were blessed and exchanged with our extended family and friends.  We always gave one as a gift to our priest as well.


The decorating supplies have changed over the years but the technique is still the same.  The supplies include raw, clean white eggs; a writing stylus (kistka); beeswax; pint jars containing various colours of dyes;  vinegar, candles, drying racks and varnish.




Mom used to make the kistkas out of a branch from a willow tree and the little round metal hook from an old calendar.  She would roll the metal to form a funnel and then tie it to a small twig with a piece of fine wire from a grocery store twist tie.  Not only can I still remember how those twig kistas felt in my hands, but I can still remember the smell of the wood.  Today, kistkas are made of wood or plastic.

For a detailed explanation of the steps involved in decorating your own pysanka, please check out the Pages section called Pysanky at the top of my blog.  I have also included a slide show of various pysanky designs.

Pysanky designs

Unique Ukrainian Easter egg designs

When you have created your own Pysanka, please consider sharing your photos with me.


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