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Easter Baking

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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Petrosha’s Chebureki aka Ukrainian Meat Pies

There seems to be many variations to Chebureki, a popular yet simple street food.

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I don’t recall eating Chebureki at home when I was a young child.  I first heard of Chebureki from a fellow Ukrainian language school classmate.  She raved about how delicious these little “meat pies” tasted.  My Ukrainian school teacher told us how she made them all the time.

I decided to go in search of this recipe and found many variations posted on Russian and Ukrainian recipe sites.  They are basically a deep-fried meat pie stuffed with ground beef and onions.  image

Although these traditional chebureki taste just fine, I have tweeked the recipes and come up with my own rendition of chebureki appetizers.

Take a look for the recipe under Traditional Ukrainian dishes or click here   Petrosha’s Chebureki aka Ukrainian Meat Pies

I hope you enjoy them.

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Canadian Thanksgiving 2016

The turkey is cooking in the oven.  img_3646

The pumpkin pies have been baked.

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The potatoes, carrots and yes, even the brussel sprouts have been washed, peeled and sliced – all ready to be cooked for dinner tonight.  Although it’s not our official day for Thanksgiving, many families including my own, enjoy a traditional turkey dinner on Sunday.  It’s just seems to be a bit easier on the cook to be able to just relax and eat left-overs on the Monday before going back to work.

Ah, yes, going back to work.  I am retired now but I remember it well.  As the sun just started to rise in the sky, I would wake up every day to the blaring sound of an alarm clock.  I would stumble my way out of bed and step under the hot spray of my morning shower, dry my hair, and hurry downstairs to brew a pot of coffee.  When the family was all awake, we would have a good breakfast before heading out the door.

From the time that our boys were school age, they learned to make their own lunches.  I’d ensure that they had healthy choices to choose from.  My youngest was easiest to accommodate because he always wanted peanut butter and jam sandwiches.  But My Man and oldest son always wanted “meat”.  It didn’t matter what kind, just as long as it was meat.  Hmm, come to think of it, that’s what I recall my mom always packing up for my dad in his metal lunch box.

I remember one frosty winter morning in particular when I was about five years old.  As I wandered into the kitchen in my pyjamas and my bare feet, I saw that it was still dark outside.  I could feel the cold drafts of air seeping in through the windows and my toes were freezing on the cold linoleum floor.  Mom and dad were sitting at the kitchen table, drinking hot coffee and eating their breakfast.  It was still so dark outside and I could not understand why my dad was going out so early.

I remember feeling sorry for my dad but he seemed happy to be going off to work.  I asked him why? He smiled at me and said “I’m lucky to have a job to go to and besides that, I’ve got a great lunch waiting for me later!”

He picked up his lunch box and opened it.  And today, right now, if I close my eyes….I can not only see inside my dad’s lunch box, but I can smell it too.  I can smell “baloney”* meat spread with yellow mustard in-between two slices of fresh homemade bread, all wrapped in wax paper.

Tears just welled up in my eyes and I’m not sure why this memory makes me feel so sad today.  Maybe I’m just being nostalgic on this Thanksgiving day.  Because I am older, I realize how hard my parents worked to take care of us.  I have these fond memories of growing up and I am very thankful for my parents.  It is amazing about the power of a smell.

And right now, I can smell our turkey roasting in the oven, and I hope that one day, my own sons’ will recall the smell of a roasting turkey and remember.

I consider myself truly blessed.  I am thankful for My Man, my two sons and all of my extended family and friends.

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

*Bologna!  (If you are from the prairies, did you or do you still call it baloney?  Yes, that’s how we said it back then).

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BC Blueberry Picking Time!

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It’s July and it’s time to get out there and pick some fresh farm produce.  I love to go to the local farms and pick my own fruit off the plants.

When growing up on the Prairies, my family and I used to go North of my small village and pick whichever berries were in season.  These fruits were not cultivated and cared for by berry producers.  No, the berries that we picked were growing wild.

The wild strawberries were the first of the season, and then raspberries, choke cherries and then blueberries.

Oh now that I think about it, picking these berries was not something I truly loved to do.  No, picking Manitoba berries was hard.

You see, all of these berries except for the choke cherries grew only one or two inches off the ground.   I recall the blueberries being tasty but very, very small as well.

We had to squat or kneel right down on the dirt to pick them.  And of course, there were mosquitoes to contend with and at times, even small garter snakes slithering by us.  Oh, okay so these aren’t my happiest memories!

Come to think about this, I will stay here and stand while picking blueberries at the local farms.

Check out my Blueberry Crisp recipe under Not So Traditional Foods.

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Oh, for the love of dill!

Time sure flies when one is relaxing and enjoying the wonderful days of the Summer time.  It seems like yesterday that I was blogging about Spring and here it is mid-July.  The grass is green, the flowers are blooming and the garden is growing.

Well, some of the things in my little garden are growing.  Now mind you, my little garden is just that, little.  I only have three 8 feet X 4 raised beds.  It’s a hobby more than a high yielding vegetable producer.  My garden gets me outside in the fresh air and to quote a cliché, gives me “an opportunity to get in touch with nature”.  I enjoy the sweet smell of the soil after a fresh rainfall.  I love getting down on my knees, getting my hands dirty and planting the little seeds.  I don’t even mind the challenge of keeping ahead of the many slugs that get most of the best parts of the bean plants, for example…even before I see a single bean pod.  Yes, for the most part, I enjoy planting and watching the plants grow in my garden.  Maybe it’s the Ukrainian roots; mine not the plants.

There is one plant however that just refuses to grow in my garden.  It’s the Dillweed.

Dill is a popular herb that I use a lot in the kitchen; flavouring everything from vegetables (new potatoes), soups (borscht) to fish (salmon), and well, just about anything!  You can’t beat fresh dill for the flavour.  But, no matter how many times (in the last 25 years!) I have tried to grow dill in my garden, it absolutely refuses to grow.

Now the best way to grow dill is directly from seeds.  So this past Summer, my Uncle Matt got tired of hearing me whine about not being able to grow dill.  He gave me a coffee cup filled with seeds from his own garden.

“Petrosha, ” he said, “I guarantee that these seeds will grow!”

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Yes, planting dill seed is easy.  According to his strictest instructions, I simply scattered the seeds in a sunny part of my garden and then lightly covered them with soil.  I had also put some seed in a little peat cup.  I’m desperate and will try anything.  In the last few weeks, I have been watering and keeping a close eye on all of them.  Apparently dill will grow happily in both poor and rich soil.  It will grow happily in damp or dry conditions. Ha!

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Here’s what I’ve got so far.

Nothing.

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Weeds and dry leaves only!

Now the seeds in the peat cups are trying!  I was so excited that they at least started to sprout.  But as you can see, they are only a couple of inches tall.  Maybe they will be ready by October!

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Not sure if I’m going to tell my 90-year-old uncle that his “guaranteed” dill seeds did not come up in the garden.  Who knows, maybe they will overwinter and pop up everywhere next Spring.

Good thing I can buy dill at my local farm market when it’s time to make Borscht.

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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.

“Operator.”

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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It must be a Prairie thing!

I went shopping this morning at my local grocery store and I saw that the store had Cheez Whiz on sale.  Some of you may gasp and think “Yuck, that’s just a processed something that is supposed to resemble real cheese”.

Some of you however may feel the same way that I do! “Yum, the best cheese in the world for perogies and especially for grilled cheese sandwiches”.

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Well, I stood there in that store and felt my mouth start to water. I couldn’t believe it but I could taste the flavour of the Cheez Whiz!

My thoughts went to my memories of cold blustery Prairie Winter days.  I thought about coming into my childhood home to the smells of fresh homemade soup and warm grilled cheese sandwiches. It was a good feeling!

I love grilled Cheez Whiz sandwiches!

I bought a jar.

I came home and as I was putting away my grocery items, my eyes kept looking at that jar of Cheez Whiz.  I couldn’t wait any longer.

“Who wants a grilled cheese sandwich made with Cheez Whiz ?” I asked my family.  Now, we all love grilled cheese sandwiches around here, but today everyone said, “No, thank you!”

You see, no one in my own family likes Cheez Whiz.  Whenever I make grilled cheese sandwiches for My Man and children, I make them by grating a block of cheddar cheese. These go down in a jiffy around here. But never with Cheez Whiz.

Perhaps it’s all in how and where and even when one was growing up. When I was little, my parents couldn’t afford the store-bought blocks of cheddar cheese. So if we wanted something with cheese flavour, it was always made with Cheez Whiz.  Mom always used it whenever she made cheese sauces, macaroni casseroles and potato and Cheez Whiz perogies.  Many people who I now know out here in the West Coast request that I make them perogies with Cheez Whiz too.

I think it’s something we just ate growing up on the Prairies. I believe that it’s very much like Spam luncheon meat.  It’s an acquired taste!

Well, I made myself a grilled Cheez Whiz sandwich and now I am purring like a kitten as I bite into the smooth creamy cheese.

By the way, I love Spam too.  All I have to say about that is …must be a prairie thing!

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