Tag Archive | summer

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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The Banquet

Luke 14:16-24

Luke 14:16-24

I was in church on Sunday and listened intently to the Reading according to Luke (14:16-24).  I listened and sat quietly until I caught my mind wandering back to a time when I was quite little and attending Summer Catechism.

Before I tell you what nearly happened, let me familiarize you with this reading.  I’ve summed it here.  I apologize for the poor paraphrasing.

Jesus told this parable about a man who was giving a great feast and he sent his servant to invite his guests.  Unfortunately they all had other things to do and made excuses of why they could not come. One said he had bought a field; another had purchased a pair of oxen; and yet another had gotten married. When the servant told the master these excuses, the master was angry and told his servant to invite everyone that he could find who was poor, hungry and destitute.

It is a great parable and obviously one that made an impact on me when I was very young.  But it wasn’t just the words that I remembered – it was the song that the Catechism teachers (the Sisters of our parish) had taught us.  It goes a little like this…and I’m sure you will pick up the tune quite quickly.

“I can not come.

I cannot come to the banquet, don’t bother me now.

I have married a wife, I have bought me a cow.

I have fields and commitments that cost a pretty sum.

Pray hold me excused I cannot come.”

In church however, as I said earlier, my mind wandered and I actually caught myself smiling and was very close to humming and singing the song.

You see I recall not only learning this song and singing it, but I also remember hearing how the “older” boys (the 13 and 14 year olds) sang it.  They switched the words around to say “I have bought me a wife, I have married a cow”.  Yes, I can just see the eye rolls.  Hilarious for a bunch of immature kids!  However, not so for an adult sitting in a pew in church last Sunday morning.

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Another Summer, another CNUF!



When I was working out of my home, I dreaded the beginning of August because it meant that work would be starting up in just a few weeks.  So long to relaxing at home, having late night Summer barbecues and just lazing around the house.  No, August meant it was time to do everything in and around the home during the Summer that never got looked at during the busy school year.

Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival has always been a highlight in the Summer.  My Man and I had so much fun at last year’s 50th celebration.  So much to see and so much to do.

Villagers from the Selo

Villagers from the Selo

Ukrainian Old Timers band from Winnipeg

Ukrainian Old Timers band from Winnipeg

CNUF Riding & Dancing Cossacks

CNUF Riding & Dancing Cossacks

However, this year, the 51st, was just not the same.  Not sure why.  Perhaps it was the fact that there was a fire in the Mall and the festival office was destroyed last year. Lots of great displays and priceless artifacts are gone.  Is that why they had so many competitions?  Perhaps it was the lack of participants in these events like the pysanky and kolach demonstrations.  Perhaps it had something to do with the organising committees.  Lots of new faces.

Now I’m not knocking the fact that everyone tried their best and many people worked very hard at this festival.  There was something missing however.  I’m actually quite concerned that there are not enough “old timers” involved in steering the direction that the festival now seems to be taking.

Now don’t get me wrong either.  Encouraging a younger executive and board members to get involved is good if you want to keep this half century old festival going.  New blood is needed as some would say.  However, there appears that not enough people involved really understand what it was like to come to Canada so many years ago and start-up a new life.

I do hope that the Board of Directors and the City realise that pioneers and their stories of their struggles are needed at the festival to keep the spirit of the Ukrainian culture at the centre.  People travelled many miles and had to work together to clear the land, build homes and support one another through some very harsh times.  Working together and team work was essential back then.  It’s needed now for the festival as well.

Pioneer barn

I wish the people of Dauphin and especially the CNUF organization all the best because I want to be able to attend the 75th CNUF celebration.

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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!”


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!


Here’s what I’ve got so far.



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!


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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Summer time !

Festivals, barbecues, camping, weddings, travelling…all Summer time activities!

It’s  been a busy but beautiful, sunshine filled Summer.

In fact, so busy that I haven’t posted for over a month. I apologize to my followers. I appreciate you and hope that you have had a busy yet relaxing Summer as well and will continue to check out my blog and see what’s new.

0The CNUF 2013 was a great success and those of you who made it out to the festival in Dauphin, Manitoba were so fortunate. The weather was perfect, the entertainment was phenomenal and the hospitality of the people from Dauphin was as usual… fantastic. There’s just something about the music, the dancing and the food at the festival that brings out the best in everyone, Ukrainian or not!

It has also been a great Summer for weddings!

Congratulations to all newly married couples out there!  So nice to see so many couples believing in “’til death do us part”.

There seems to be an increasing number of  couples today wondering what’s so special about marriage. Some do not see the need.

It may sound old-fashioned (because I am) but the purpose of marriage is to “mutually complete one another and to experience companionship”.  I quote this because I heard it many years ago in our “married life class” that we took prior to being married in our church.

I think it ‘s important to be reminded that marriage was the first institution God created. Marriage was not intended to be given up on whenever it gets tough. There needs to be unconditional love and interdependence in a marriage.  When children are involved, this becomes even more important.  The longer that my husband and I are married, the more I understand about love and commitment. We commit ourselves to one another unconditionally every day.

And with weddings, also comes wedding traditions. So many of you are wanting Ukrainian wedding breads, Korovai.  They are so beautiful and of course you want to keep them as long as possible.

I have had several requests for ways to preserve the Korovai that many of you  newly weds had at your wedding. Please see the page that I posted for preserving your wedding bread under the heading Korovai !

Enjoy the last bits that Summer has to offer in the next few weeks!

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Picking peas !

Have you ever been going about your daily chores, just minding your own business, maybe even humming a song,  when “wham”…you are back in time ?

Well it happened to me today. No, I don’t mean physically. I am referring to travelling back to my childhood memories. Of course it may of happened to you and it has happened to me before as well. But today was more unique than any other time. Wonder why?

I was outside when I experienced this blast back to my past, back well over to 50 years ago. Maybe it’s the Summer heat?  Maybe feeling nostalgic? Might be the smell of fresh turned soil in my garden?

It was a good day to do a bit of gardening because it was very hot and sunny outside.

As you know, I grew up on the prairies in Canada and if you have ever been there, you’ll know it is sunny with clear blue skies, often very hot and dry during the Summer, and come dusk, full of mosquitoes. Perhaps it was the mosquito buzzing around me in my garden that triggered my memory. Perhaps it was the peas.


There I was, 1966, picking peas in our family’s нород (garden).  Mom and dad always planted a huge garden in the back of our yard. We relied on these garden vegetables to help us get through the winter months. Fresh produce was not only hard to come by in our small town but it was very expensive to buy in the stores. In fact, I never tasted store bought lettuce until I was in my late teens. Mom would preserve and freeze as many of the vegetables that she could. We stored jars of canned tomatoes, dill pickles, sauerkraut and pickled beets in our dirt root cellar. We also stored jute bags full of potatoes and carrots.


Our garden provided a lot. Sometimes we even traded vegetables with other gardeners and farmers.

Any vegetable that you could imagine had a place to be planted and had to have time to grow. The plants needed to be watered, hoed and yes, weeded.

In the Spring, dad would borrow a tractor from my uncle (дядько метро) and till the soil. If he couldn’t borrow it, he turned the ground using a fork and shovel.  This usually happened after the May long weekend when the frost was finally out of the ground.  I close my eyes and can still smell the fresh turned soil.

My job was to help mom. I had to stand and hold one end of the 50 foot length of twine (wrapped around a stick), while mom measured out exactly where the other end would go. The rows had to be straight and evenly spaced. The сапа (hoe) was used to dig down 3-4 inches or more. The potato hills took up the most room, followed by the rows of corn. Then came the beans, the carrots, beets and of course the green peas.

Today, as I pick peas in my own garden, I am transformed back to my parents’ garden. I can still hear the pea pods snap open to reveal the tender young green peas. Maybe my mind is flooded with these memories because eating the peas in the garden back then was forbidden!  We were never allowed to eat the young peas until they were ready for picking. But it was so tempting.  While down on our hands and knees pulling weeds, the peas could very easily be snapped off and consumed well before mom noticed us munching them. Never mind about any of the dirt. It was all good.

My brothers, sister and I thought we were pretty clever, but I think mom knew. Perhaps that’s why we had the job of shelling the 5 gallon buckets full of peas a few weeks later in early August !


Funny how working in my garden today brought on these memories. I picked the peas today from my garden and I’m going to add them to the borscht (борщ) that I made today. Mmm, no guilt here!  Смачний !


Wonder what’ll happen when it’s time to pick the corn?

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