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Peonies in Full Bloom

I just looked out the window this sunny June morning and was pleasantly surprised to see the peonies are in full bloom! I’m not sure why I should be surprised; after all, these peonies have been growing and blooming for at least 50 years.

 

As some of you may recall, my mother in law and I were quite close. So when she passed away, it didn’t feel right to just walk away from her house and yard without preserving some of her plants that she so lovingly cared for all of her years. I couldn’t leave her lilac tree that she had rooted from her own mother’s English garden nor could I leave the many beautiful peonies that bloomed all around her yard each year. Unfortunately the lilac tree did not transplant well and is no more. However the peonies have all taken root, so to speak, and as you can see, are flourishing.

 

As lovely as the peony’s blossoms are, they sadly do not last very long. So how to save the beautiful pink colours and sweet smell of Spring ? Why not preserve them! And that’s exactly what I’ve done here today.

I went in search of Peony Jam and Jelly recipes. Yes, I was surprised that there are several out there on the Internet but after trying a few recipes, and failing miserably, I have decided to post my own recipe. I never post a recipe unless I have thoroughly tested the measurements and ingredients out.

Take a look on my Pages under Not So Traditional Foods   If you decide to grab a few peony blossoms and make the jelly, please send me a note and let me know how you made out and what you think.

Peony Jelly

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No TP? Never fear, the new catalogue is here!

I’m going to start off this post with a paragraph that many of us have seen or heard in the last few months.

“We in Canada have seen a stark increase in the number of cases of COVID-19. We are being asked to avoid non-essential travel and social distance ourselves. These steps are essential to help reduce transmission and help keep all of us healthy. “

This is such an important message and all of us, not only in Canada, but in the world need to abide to what the science is telling us.

But I’m not writing today to remind nor lecture you on this horrible virus. The news is full of this virus information and at times scary to listen to and can be quite depressing.

 I am not taking this lightly but I want to lighten things up a bit.  

I would like to share with you a few memories that I have recalled in the last little while when hearing about some very strange behaviours in our communities.

Even though we are being assured that there is enough food and supplies to go around, some people are filling their shopping carts as if they will never be able to get them again.

The toilet paper hoarding issue and mostly the fear of people not having any, made me recall the many visits to my Gido’s farm in the early 1960s.

My Gido and Baba lived about five miles out from our small village. They had a typical prairie farm house large enough for their family. The house was connected with power from the hydro poles on the main roads and therefore they had electricity.  But they had no running water.  Here is a photo of a farmhouse similar to one that my grandparents owned. 

With no running water that was connected to the house, Gido had to go out and pump water from the well.  Baba heated their water up on the stove and it was used for cooking and cleaning.  There was a wash basin in the porch so we could always wash our hands or even have a sponge bath in the house.  But no indoor toilet.   The toilet was an outhouse.

For those of you who may not recall an outhouse, it was often a small wooden building that was situated not too far nor too close to the main house. 

Most had a one-hole or even a two-hole seat cut out of two pieces of sawed off lumber.  We had to watch out for the crack.  Of course there was a roof and a locking door.  My grandparent’s toilet did not have any electricity but there usually was a flashlight handy to grab on your way out at night.

But you are now wondering …why is this post about toilet paper?  It’s because of supply and demand! You see, the outhouse never had any toilet paper.  

To my recollection, Gido and Baba never had store bought toilet paper.  Oh no.  It was too expensive for them to waste in the toilet.  I’m pretty sure it was available in the grocery stores.  The Co-op store or the Farmer’s Store had all sorts of supplies.  In fact, I remember asking my mom about this one time when we were at Gido’s house.  Mom told me to ask Gido.  

I can still hear him saying,

“Petrooska….why would I want to waste money on store paper when the catalogue is free?”

That is right.  That’s what we used at the farm.  The latest version of the catalogues had come in and had been stacked on the floor next to the toilet seats.  It didn’t matter if it was an Eaton’s catalogue or a Sears catalogue.  As long as it had clean pages, it was good enough.  I’m not going to elaborate because if you have ever used an outhouse with this type of “toilet paper”, you will understand.  I’m sure some of my followers remember using this from a few years back.

I hope you had a wee laugh and enjoyed this little memory of mine.  Be thankful that our supply chain in Canada is pretty secure.  But if you run out, don’t go looking for an Eaton’s or Sears catalogue.  They are no longer in business.

Stay safe and healthy!

Petrosha

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Who Really Owns Borsch ?

In Canada, our homegrown beets are being harvested now and many of you, like myself, are making Borsch. I ran across this article from a BBC.com Travel website. Instead of weighing in on the discussion, I thought you would enjoy reading it and then you can decide.

Food Wars is a series from BBC Travel that invites you to feel the heat when passions flare around beloved dishes that shape a culture’s identity. http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20191014-who-really-owns-borsch

• By Andrew EvanS

15 October 2019

Soup should never be your go-to weapon in a food fight. As projectiles go, a bowl of chunky liquid proves messy and lacks precision. Fist-size bread rolls are more effective – or, say, chocolate pudding catapulted from a spoon. In Russia though, the latest food fight is all about soup, and it’s being hurled from the walls of the Kremlin via Twitter.

The soup war boiled over into social media this year, when @Russia (the official Twitter account for the Russian Federation’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs) tweeted: “A timeless classic, #Borsch is one of Russia’s most famous & beloved #dishes & a symbol of traditional cuisine”.

To the average Twitter skimmer, Russians broadcasting about borsch may seem obvious and innocuous, but for Ukrainians, who consider borsch to be their national dish, the Russian tweet is wartime propaganda, especially considering the current occupation of Crimea and the latest territorial conflict in eastern Ukraine that’s been raging since 2014. The Ukrainian Twittersphere responded with anger and humour, with comments like “As if stealing Crimea wasn’t enough, you had to go and steal borsch from Ukraine as well”.

A war over who owns borsch has boiled over on social media this year (Credit: Denis Karpenkov/Alamy)

You may also be interested in:

• The Cold War-era drink that rivals cola

• How to drink vodka like a Russian

• The truth about the humble French fry

Borsch (борщ in Cyrillic) is a hearty soup, usually coloured red from beetroot (though green and white varieties of the soup exist), and for centuries, it has been a daily staple in the Ukrainian kitchen. For many, Russia’s claim on such a quintessentially Ukrainian dish embodies a much larger trend of Russia’s historical oppression of Ukrainian language, politics, and, above all, independence.

According to Alex Kokcharov, a London-based political and economic risk analyst of Belarusian descent, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s chest-beating around “Russian” borsch is, “another attempt at cultural appropriation by Moscow”. He explained that while “a number of cultures claim borsch to be theirs – Ukraine, Belarus, Poland and Russia – Ukraine has the strongest claim for the dish.”

“Borsch is most definitely from Ukraine,” said Olesia Lew, a New York-based chef and head consultant for Veselka, the iconic Ukrainian diner in New York City’s East Village, who is proud of her Ukrainian heritage. “I say it’s Ukrainian, not just from a nationalistic point of view, but because the soup hails from the land of Ukraine, and those ingredients have been found in the country’s archaeological record into the distant past.”

Borsch is usually coloured red from beetroot (Credit: barbara cameron pix/Alamy)

So, what about the millions of ethnic Russians who insist the red soup they love is most decidedly Russian?

“Yes, Russian people claim it’s their food,” said Lew, “But it’s a food they developed through occupation.”

According to Lew, borsch did not simply leak across the collective consciousness of Russian cuisine, but most likely entered the Soviet mainstream in the Stalinist era as a result of a concerted effort by the Kremlin. In his attempt to collectivise the largest country on Earth, Stalin tasked his Commissar of Food, Anastas Mikoyan, with establishing a Soviet national cuisine that catered to the more than 100 different “nationalities” (the Soviet term for the diverse ethnic populations) found in the USSR.

Russian people claim it’s their food, but it’s a food they developed through occupation

Mikoyan’s official study of cultural melting pots and mass food production led him to the United States, where he fell in love with hamburgers, hot dogs and ice cream. On his return, Mikoyan launched factory-produced ice cream across the Soviet Union and popularised efficient kitchen meals like kotleti (minced meat patties) in everyday cooking. In 1939, he published the propaganda-heavy Book of Tasty and Healthy Food, a standardised cookbook that was often gifted to newlywed couples in the Soviet Union from the Communist Party – a book that is still in print to this day.

“Mikoyan needed to mass-produce a cultural identity for these Soviet foods,” said Lew. “It’s fascinating to read what he picked from each place – be it Ukraine or Georgia – while remaining vague (eg “add meat”), since at the time most ingredients were not widely available across the Soviet Union. The cookbook made all these dishes part of Soviet culture and thereby ‘Russian’, since Russia was the most important culture for the Soviets.”

While Russian people claim borsch as their own, it has been a daily staple in Ukrainian kitchens for centuries (Credit: Olga Nikiforova/Alamy)

So what exactly does this Soviet food bible say about borsch? Chapter 6 (“Soups”) starts with cabbage-based Shchi, listing six different recipes, after which comes “Borsch”, then “Summer Borsch” (featuring squash, celery and beetroot greens), followed lastly by a differentiated “Ukrainian Borsch”. (Imagine an American cookbook with multiple recipes for tacos, finishing with “Mexican tacos”, and that’s what it sounds like.)

According to Mikoyan’s recipe, standard borsch contains meat, beetroot, cabbage, root vegetables, onions, tomato paste, vinegar and sugar, while “Ukrainian” borsch contains meat, cabbage, potatoes, beetroot, tomato paste, carrot, parsnip, onion, bacon, butter, vinegar and garlic, garnished with sour cream and chopped parsley. The Ukrainian recipe, framed as a separate iteration of the standardised version, is by far the most well-known today.

While the broader world may consider borsch as a quintessentially “Russian” food, very few non-Russians are acquainted with the much less-exciting Russian variant shchi. As a basic cabbage soup, shchi is effectively borsch without the beetroot.

An 1823 Russian dictionary of Ukrainian words defined borsch as “the same thing as shchi”, while an 1842 book of Russian etymology differentiates between Russian shchi (referring to sour cabbage) and Ukrainian borsch, a word that in fact references the soup’s traditional ingredient of hogweed, or borschevik. Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium) grows throughout Eurasia, but the plant flourishes in the marshy areas around the Danube and Dnipro (Dnepr in Russian) river deltas. Long before the modern-day countries of Russia or Ukraine existed, the people of the Black Sea region boiled soup from the pickled stems, leaves and flowers of the hogweed plant. Recipe books show that the Ukrainians added beetroot.

Borsch likely entered the Soviet mainstream when Stalin’s Commissar of Food, Anastas Mikoyan (right), established a Soviet national cuisine (Credit: TASS/Getty Images)

Similar-yet-separate culture and geography make the untangling of Russian and Ukrainian history an almost impossible task. Pro-Russian ideologues use the region’s complex past to promote a rewritten history that draws a straight line from the current Russian regime back to the original Slavic civilisation. To that end, in its tweet, the Russian Foreign Ministry doubled down on its historical bias by reframing of the origins of borsch from “Russian” hogweed that dates back to the “Ancient Rus” of the 10th Century.

The problem with this statement is that Ancient Rus was centred in Kyiv (Kiev in Russian), now the capital of Ukraine. Over the past millennium, Ukraine’s largest city has been defined by repeated invasion, occupations and violent uprisings – often against the stronghold of Russian influence over Ukrainian politics. Rebranding Ukraine’s national food staple as Russian is even more ironic and offensive in light of the Holodomor, Stalin’s manmade famine of 1932-33, when forced collectivisation, aggressive grain procurement and confiscation of food stores led to the starvation of millions of Ukrainians. The exact number of dead, and whether the famine should be considered a genocide, remains a sticking point that is still debated and denied by Russians.

The cookbook made all these dishes part of Soviet culture and thereby ‘Russian’

The battle over borsch and its meaning continues online, most notably around the soup’s official definition. Ukrainian Wikipedia lists borsch as “found in Ukrainian, Belarusian, Polish, Lithuanian, Iranian and Jewish national cuisines,” but fails to mention Russian cuisine. Meanwhile, Russian-language Wikipedia says: “Borsch is a type of beet-based soup, giving it a characteristic red colour. A traditional dish of the Eastern Slavs, it is a common first course in Ukrainian cuisine.”

Admittedly, the wider, non-Slavic world views borsch as Russian, while Poles know it only as beloved Polish barszcz. This is also problematic since at least half of Ukraine was occupied by Poland for several centuries. Meanwhile, the common English spelling of borscht (with a “t”) derives from the Yiddish transliteration, since the soup was introduced to the west primarily by Jewish refugees fleeing Eastern Europe. Food travels with people, which is why borsch is now popular worldwide.

Mikoyan’s Book of Tasty and Healthy Food included recipes that catered to the more than 100 different ethnic populations in the USSR (Credit: Bernard Bisson/Sygma/Getty Images)

“The soup is everywhere now,” said Dima Martseniuk, head chef at Veselka. “Maybe like 5% of Russians say it’s theirs, but the other 95% know that borsch is Ukrainian. I mean, I’m not going to pick a fight over it.” More than nationalism, what matters to Martseniuk is how the soup tastes, since he makes and serves hundreds of gallons of borsch every week.

“My grandma’s classic recipe begins with pork stock boiled from rib bones. Then you have to use sweet cabbage – not the heavy kind. Then it’s important that you cook the other ingredients on the side, in a separate frying pan. You have to sauté them – the onion, carrot and shredded beetroot. Then you add sunflower oil, butter, spices, ketchup or tomato paste. And be sure to add something acidic – white vinegar or lemon juice – that helps preserve the deep red colour.”

His less-traditional tip? “Try making borsch in a pizza oven,” Martseniuk said. The open flame apparently does wonders to the cooking and it tastes really good.

The Book of Tasty and Healthy Food’s chapter on soups begins with shchi, which is effectively borsch without the beetroot (Credit: Vladislav Gudovskiy/Alamy)

Variation is the real beauty of borsch, and across Ukraine, I’ve encountered countless varieties of the soup – with or without meat, beans or certain spices.

“There are as many versions of borsch as there are Eastern European grandmas,” said Tom Birchard, owner of Veselka. “People have an emotional attachment to the soup, and everybody has their own idea of what it is.”

There are as many versions of borsch as there are Eastern European grandmas

I learned how to make borsch while living in Kharkiv, the second largest city in Ukraine less than 30km from the Russian border. My teacher, Tanya Karabanova, was a bona fide babulya (Ukrainian grandmother) who insisted that the best borsch came from careful cutting and separate cooking of each ingredient so that every subtle vegetable flavour comes out. She was adamant that I never chop the cabbage into squares, resulting in what she called “stolovaya”, or “cafeteria-style”, borsch – the kind of soulless, watery-brown sustenance ladled out in schools, military bases or prisons. Instead, she told me to “rotate the cabbage downwards while shaving finely along the edge, forming long, fine, crescents of translucent cabbage”.

“With borsch, everyone is right,” Lew explained. “Ukrainians are fiercely independent and defensive about their food and how authentic it is. For me, the key thing is to have the right beets – young, sweet summer beets. I’m a big fan of meatless borsch – and I like beans in my borsch because that’s the way I was raised. Sour cream, absolutely, and I like a bit of kvas (a fermented beverage) in the back note – the sour offsets the sweetness and richness of the beet.”

Ukrainian borsch, made with meat, cabbage, potatoes and beetroot, is by far the best-known version (Credit: Deb Lindsey For The Washington Post/Getty Images)

Lew buys her ingredients in the farmers’ markets of New York City, insisting on using the freshest ingredients. Descended from an immigrant family, Lew admits that like borsch, her own life story has spread across the globe.

“Food is part of culture and identity, but people move,” she said. “Food can be shared, and it can unite people – but food can travel. Things get sticky when you try to deny people the food that they have been raised on for generations, and I would never want to deny someone their cultural heritage simply because they were raised in Soviet times.”

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Petrosha’s Best Turkey Soup Ever!i

Happy Thanksgiving all. I had a couple of requests to post this turkey soup today. Hope you enjoy it!

Petrosha’s Best Turkey Soup ever!

Ingredients:

Carcass from cooked turkey, with some meat bits still on.

10 cups water

3 stalks celery, chopped

2 onions, chopped

4 carrots, peeled and diced

3 potatoes, peeled and diced

1/2 cup sherry (optional)

1/2 cup chicken soup base (such as Oxo)

1 cup pearl barley

1 can of Cream of Celery or Cream of Chicken soup

Boil the carcass of the turkey in a large pot of water for 3 – 4 hours. Add a couple of cloves of garlic, a chopped onion, spices such as thyme, oregano, sage for flavour. When the extra bits of meat slips easily off the bones, strain through a sieve. If you can find larger pieces of turkey meat, chop these into small pieces and add them back to the broth. Ensure that you strain out all tiny bits of bone.

Cool the turkey stock in the fridge overnight. All the excess fat will accumulate on the top. Scrape this off and discard.

Next day, pour the turkey stock into a large pot (add up to 10 cups of water to fill your pot if needed.)

Add the chicken soup base, chopped celery, onions, carrots, potato, sherry as well as the pearl barley. Bring this up to a rolling boil, and after about 20 minutes, turn down the stove and continue simmering for another hour or longer. You want to ensure that the vegetables and the barley are thoroughly cooked.

Now here’s the secret Ukrainian ingredient…add one can of cream of chicken or cream of celery soup to the pot. I do not use mushroom because this throws off the flavour.  Stir it in well and continue simmering. This one can will give the homemade soup just the right amount of thickener as well as add extra flavour.  It’s easy and takes the guess work out of adding a thickener.

If desired, add some freshly ground pepper and chopped parsley to taste. No need to add salt as there’s plenty in the canned soup.

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Thankful for many things!

As mentioned in a previous post, I recently retired.  I was a grade school teacher and I taught in the public school system for over 35 years.  Old habits die hard and therefore when Thanksgiving comes around, I am reminded of paper bag turkeys, paper mache cornucopia and little children wearing paper hats that boast a turkey’s head and colorful tail feathers glued in place.  Thanksgiving weekend is a wonderful time to reflect on good memories.

I am not going to reminisce here about school at this time.  I would however like to tell you about a special friendship that I am very thankful for.  This friendship was forged many years ago prior to my becoming a teacher.

As you know I grew up in a very small village and in order to attend university, I had to leave home and live in a city many miles away.  This was a very big change for me and that September, I was quite anxious about being alone and not knowing anyone in the “big” city.

The first day of my new university life was scary to me.  My parents did accompany me to my residence and were quite supportive of me venturing out on my own.  But I quickly found out that was as far as it went.  I really had hoped that at least my mom would come with me to help me register at the university’s Registar office.  But my mom said no, this was something I needed to do on my own.

“The other kids will not know anyone and will be feeling like you so just smile at them and maybe even say hello.”

With that in mind, I ventured off to the Registrar’s office and lined up with other first year students.  As I recall, I looked around and everyone seemed so sure of themselves and I really felt out of place.  Many thoughts went through my mind.  Had I bitten off more than I could chew?  Was this really what I wanted to do?  Maybe I should just turn around and get out of there.   And I started to.

It was at that moment that I did turn around that I came face to face with a girl who smiled at me.  I smiled back and then I said “Hello, my name is Petrosha”.   She said hello back and told me her name was Debbie.  We started up a conversation in that line up and well, as the saying goes, the rest is history.  I stayed in that line up and this girl Debbie became my new friend that day.

After that first meeting, we started to socialize together and we even visited each other’s small towns and met with each other’s families.  A few months later, we ended up renting a house together.  There were many times when we supported one another.  For instance, it was tough to get up for some of our boring English classes that started at 8:00am.  But we did. We motivated each other to study and complete our assignments.  I recall one night when we stayed up together until 4:30am dictating and typing a History essay that was due that same morning!

After graduating from university Debbie and I worked in different towns but we continued to stay in touch.  We shared many life events including standing up for each other at our weddings and watching our children play together whenever we visited one another.  When driving through the prairies we always stopped in for a visit and picked up exactly where we had last time we visited.

We just spent an enjoyable weekend together and yes, we picked up our conversations just like it had been yesterday when we last saw each other.

It has now been 44 years since that first meeting in the registration line up.  With the Thanksgiving weekend coming up, it just felt right to share this slice of my life story with you.  I am truly blessed and thankful for my friendships.  Thank you to all of you who are my followers.   Happy Thanksgiving!

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Chebureki – Ukrainian Meat Pies.

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As the season is changing from hot Summer days to cooler Autumn temperatures, I thought that perhaps you may enjoy a warm Street Food! Although I have not been to Ukraine, I have heard of Chebureki.

There seem to be many variations to this simple street food.  I first heard of Chebureki from a fellow Ukrainian language school classmate.  My friend raved about them.  My Ukrainian school teacher then told us how she made them.

I went in search of this recipe and after trying a few other recipes posted on several Russian and Ukrainian recipe sites, I have come up with my own rendition of Chebureki.  I hope you enjoy them!

Dough Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups white flour
  • 1/2 tsp. white sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cups water, hot
  • 1 tsp. vodka (optional)

Into a large mixing bowl, add the flour, sugar, oil and vodka.  If you prefer, leave out the vodka or just drink a shot!

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Heat the water to very hot, but not boiling and pour small amounts slowly into the dry ingredients, stirring the entire time.  It will be sticky.  Mix well to combine and then tip out onto a counter surface that has been lightly dusted with flour.  Knead until the dough is soft and smooth, no longer sticky.  If too wet, incorporate a bit more flour. Place in plastic wrap or place in a covered bowl.  

Now it’s time to make the filling.

 

Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 large onion, chopped fine
  • 2 – 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cup beef and pork ground meat
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. oil (Crisco, Mazola)
  • 1 cup Salsa (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1 tsp. of various herbs or if you love spicy foods, add hot sauce (optional)

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On a medium temperature setting, add the oil, chopped onions, garlic and ground meat to a fry pan.  Cook until the meat is fully cooked, about 8-10 minutes.  Remove from the stove.  Drain the excess fats and then stir in the salsa.  If you are using the hot sauce, add it now as well.  I have found that 1 teaspoon was plenty hot enough, but if you like spicy heat, add more.  Set this mixture aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/8″ thickness.  If you are making appetizer-size chebureki, use a 2-3″ cookie cutter (you can also use a glass or an empty soup can) to cut out circles.  This is the same procedure as when you cut dough out for perogies.

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Place 1 -2 tsp. of the cooked meat filling onto the circles and fold over, sealing the edges.  Ensure the edges are tightly closed.  Cover with a tea towel to prevent them from drying out as you continue making the chebureki.  This recipe will make 24 – 36 small (2″ diameter) or 6 – 8 (4″ diameter).

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In a large fry pan, heat the oil on a medium temperature.  Test to see if the oil is ready and hot enough by just dropping a very small bit of dough into the oil.  It should sizzle and float.

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Fry the chebureki on both sides until a golden brown, about 3 minutes per side.

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Drain onto paper towels to soak up any extra oil.

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Serve immediately.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freeze up to a month.  These can be reheated in an oven for 10 minutes or put into the microwave for 3 minutes.

 

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Sticky’s – The Gathering Place

I woke up this morning and decided that My Man and I would have a breakfast of toast, scrambled eggs, sausages and hash browns.  This reminds me of a Sticky’s breakfast.  My uncle Metro and I have enjoyed many delicous Skillet breakfasts at Sticky’s.

Sticky’s ?  If you are not familiar with Sticky’s restaurant then you are much younger than me and never had the chance to stop in at Dauphin’s morning gathering place.  Yes, it was Sticky’s diner on Main Street.

Sticky’s was a family run business that was really and mainly a garage.  If you needed new tires, a truck repair or just an oil change, Sticky was the guy to see.

I don’t know how the restaurant got started.  I’m going to assume it was because of the need for a place to have a coffee while your vehicle was in the shop.  In the Winter months, it was always a great place to warm up and get a hot cooked meal.  Hey, these are my memories and I may have it wrong.  I don’t know.  Maybe you can email me and share your experiences too.

What I do know is that Sticky’s was a gathering place.  In my experience, many people, mainly the local farmers came into Sticky’s for a cup of coffee and a slice of homemade apple pie or even a skillet breakfast.  Breakfast was served all day but more importantly, the local news was shared all day.  There was really no need for Twitter, or Facebook or whatever else is out now, because if you wanted the local weather forecast, the latest wheat or hog prices or just the local gossip about the town’s people, you just had to gather at Sticky’s.

Alas, Sticky’s is no more.  But that doesn’t mean that the town folk have no place to gather.  Communities like Dauphin need places to help the people come together and share in the local news.  It’s healthy isn’t it?

Come to think of it, on my last visit to Dauphin, there has been a replacement.  Next time you drive through, be sure to stop in at the one and only Tim Hortons in town.  But put away your cell phones and don’t bother to read your emails.  You will learn more from the local people while you enjoy your coffee.

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Tap, tap, tap…

Hammering with Dad

I wish I could record the tapping that is happening outside.  No! It’s not a woodpecker.  It’s a carpenter sitting on top of our neighbour’s storage shed. He is putting up shingles and if you have ever heard the sound of a hammer, you’d understand.

He is not using a nail gun.  No, it’s just a hammer.  You are now wondering why I’m writing about such a boring topic.  If you have been following my blog for a while you will understand that something as simple as this tapping can bring on a flood of memories for me!  On this Father’s Day, this time is no exception.

Listening to the tapping outside takes me back to many years ago when I was only 4 years old and my dad was a carpenter.  Whenever my dad had a day off from work, he would often work outside in our old barn.  We didn’t have any cows or horses in this barn.  It was converted into a workshop for him.

I used to love being with him.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, dad often made me things like homemade swings in the old Maple tree and “saw-horse” ponies.  He enjoyed having me around!

This one particular day however, I recall it was just the opposite.  I remember having my own little hammer and was banging nails into a piece of old wood while dad worked away on his woodworking project.  He tapped and tapped. And, I tapped and tapped.  He’d tap once.  I’d tap once.  He would tap two times, and I would imitate his tap. This was lots of fun for me.  He continued nailing and tapping away.  I too tapped away.  He’d look at me and smile.  I’d smile back.  Oh, did my dad ever have a lot of patience with me !

But, after about twenty minutes of this, my dad stopped hammering.

“Okay, that’s enough”,  he said to me.

I didn’t really understand until he took me by the hand and walked me back to the house.

He opened the door and said to my mom, “Keep her in. I can’t concentrate when she taps along with me.”

Looking back, I am surprised that my dad even let me near him when he was trying to concentrate on his wood projects.

I prefer a quiet work place with no interruptions whenever I work on a project. I don’t get too upset whenever I am interrupted.  And, my friends tell me that I am a patient person.  Perhaps Dad passed this trait down to me?  I like to think so.

On this Father’s Day, I fondly remember my dad and I thank him for teaching me about patience.

I heard a saying recently…God gave everyone patience but unfortunately, only a few people use it!

Happy Father’s Day to all !

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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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Colours of Autumn

It is a crisp cool Sunday morning!  We’ve just turned the clocks back one hour as Daylight Savings Time has ended.  If you are not sure what I mean…..In the Spring, we spring ahead! In the Fall, we fall back!

Looking outside I can see spider webs glistening on the branches of our deciduous trees.  The trees’ leaves have started to curl and swing in the breeze threatening to fall, but not before they turn bright orange, yellow and red.  I went outside just now to take these photos.

A gentle breeze just passed through the leaves of our giant Maple tree, and just for a moment, it sounded like the tree just sighed.


This is just the beginning and soon there will be piles and piles of leaves on the ground.  Yes, it’s Autumn in Canada.

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