Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Perogies and cooking with love...across the generations and throughout the family

Grandma Rose's Family Recipe

As you know, I was in Victoria last January visiting Jimmy and Barb and their family.  I wrote a few posts during that time, about the my experience there, visiting with my family and cooking up new delicious recipes. Here is another post from that visit...

It is so beautiful here.  Every day they find something beautiful for me to discover, this being my first ever trip to the west coast, even if I often view it  just from the car.

The reason for our visit is bittersweet - my Uncle Jim is not well, that is the bitter - we are together, that is the sweet.  And he smiles...a lot.  He seems to be really happy to see how gelled his family is...how tight we've pulled back together in such a short time.  But I'm really not surprised...
 
We have history...I tried to express it to Barb the other day (and failed miserably, I'm afraid)...so let me try again, here, where I have a backspace and delete button.
As we were leaving after a long day of visiting, cooking, running errands and reminiscing, Rose gave me a big hug, put her arm around me, looked at me and said "you look just like your mother when you smile like that". I thought my heart would burst right on the spot.  That moment embodied everything I've missed so desperately...the history...the back stories...the memories.  Since Alzheimer's took a firm hold of my mother, I have no matriarch to give me a hug and tell me they remember me when I was a girl, that they remember my mother, my grandmother, to share my memories...until now.  My aunt Barb and "Grandma" Rose soothed that throbbing dull ache of loss for me.

Jimmy loves pasta...hmmmm you think we might be related?!?  So I made my pasta a la Sara the other night with Omega 3 enriched pasta to sneak some extra nutrients into his diet.  As I was making this super easy meal, Rose was perusing the Matriarchs' "Golden Recipes" cookbook, and pointing out the similarities between the recipes that we make and the recipes that her family makes (all stemming back to the same Winnipeg roots).  
 
I became intrigued every time Rose would come across a recipe and say "Your Bubbie Lou used to make this for us!  It is so delicious!".  I was dumbfounded.  In one case it was a recipe on a small scrap of paper, for lavash.  I have passed this recipe over many times...nothing in it grabbed my attention.  But now, you can be sure I will be making it when I get back home.  It's like I've been given a window into the world of yesteryear, and awakened from a deep sleep. 
So, Rose, Stan and I corralled Barb into planning the meals for the duration of our visit...and now that I have foodie partners in crime, this is becoming a really fun endeavour!  We are planning on making a special dinner for our last night of the trip: Chicken Kiev, Mushroom Brown Rice and Asparagus a la Nora...and let's not forget dessert: hamentashen and mun bagel 
BUT...that is not the only exciting meal in the works...Jimmy and I both love perogies/verenikes.  I have already told you how we make ravioli, but I've never made a proper perogie...until now.  Stan and Rose are adopting me as their culinary kid and teaching me to make them too!  Tuesday night's dinner is cheddar, potato and onion perogies with sour cream, a Caesar salad and some crusty bread.  No-one will say we aren't eating well this trip!
Grandma Rose cutting circles
The filling balls

Perogies - the finished product

Grandpa Stan overseeing the
boiling of the perogies
Fast forward to July...the here and now.  Over five months have passed since we left Victoria, and lost Jimmy.  But the memories of that wonderful trip remain forever ingrained in my mind and heart.  The dinner preparation that Tuesday night was so much fun.  Rose was very patient, as we rolled out the perogie dough (she ended up breaking Barb's rolling pin handles right off the pin so we'd have our own makeshift French rolling pin!), cut the circles and she skillfully (I, gingerly) filled each one.  I soon got the hang of the hand motions necessary to effectively fill and seal each perogie, and they passed Stan inspection too!  (He was in charge of boiling them).  We gobbled them up that evening, as our family gathered round the table, enjoying every moment we were together.

And they were so yummy that I set out to make them right away once I was back home.  Were they ever a hit with my family!  The first time I made them I fried them up with chopped onions after boiling and draining them. The next time I made them I laid them on a parchment-lined baking sheet, spritzed them with a little canola oil spray and baked them in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, turning them once and spritzing again.  They were just as delicious but not fried.  Oh...but I still served them topped with fried onions, of course!

So, from my extended and immediate family to yours, I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we all do.  Wishing you all a wonderful weekend filled with family, friends, fun and fantastic food.  B'Tayavon and Buon Appetito!

Grandma Rose's Perfect Perogies

Dough Ingredients:

  • 1 C hot water
  • ½ C cold milk
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4½ C flour

Dough Method:
Combine dry ingredients, then blend in water, oil and milk.  Knead well, and refrigerate for ½ hour.  

Filling Ingredients:
  • 6 medium potatoes, boiled & mashed
  • ½ C grated cheddar cheese (or to taste)  OR cheese whiz to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste

Filling Method:
Boil and mash potatoes. While hot, mix in cheddar cheese and salt and pepper.  Allow to cool so you can comfortably touch the mixture and then roll into balls and place on cookie sheet.

Making the perogies:
Roll the dough on a floured, flat surface.  It will be moist but not sticky.  Roll  it to between ½" and ¼" thickness. Use round glass to cut circles.  Place circle of dough in palm of your hand, put ball of filling in middle of circle. Then roll dough into semi-circle, carefully and tightly sealing all edges.  Place on baking sheet until ready to boil.  

Preparing the perogies:
Boil: Once you have made a batch of perogies, bring a large stock pot of water to a boil and gently place the perogies in the water.  They will float to the top.  Let them boil for 5 minutes, then remove from water with slotted spoon.
Fry: You can place them in frying pan with a little oil to crisp them; or 
Bake: Preheat over to 400 degrees and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet,  spray with canola oil spray and bake for 20 minutes, turning and respraying once.

We like to eat our perogies with fried onions and sour cream on top!   

Saturday, 12 July 2014

New Beginnings and New (Old) Approaches...

Image courtesy of sweetclipart.com

I haven't been writing much over the past 8 months...life has been so busy, between the move to a new house, my uncle Jim's sudden illness and passing, the kids' busy lives and a new baby joining our family, I have been consistently pulled in too many directions to be able to take the time to bake and try new recipes let alone write about them.

Now things are getting even busier, as I am planning on going back to school part-time in the fall, and upgrading my legal education - finally!  So, how does this fit in with blogging about Mom, food and trying new recipes?  Well, strangely enough, it does.

Last time I was in post-secondary school I had the luxury of living at home, under the protective and indulgent wing of my mother.  She ensured that my living conditions were ideal - all I had to do was go to work during the day and attend University in the evenings.  I studied on weekends. Everything else was taken care of for me.  How lucky I was!  Now, as Sara contemplates her own post-secondary choices, I keep offering her the same - work part-time and attend school full-time, and let me help you by taking care of the rest.  She is not convinced - yet.   But she still has a year to go, and in that year, she will have the added advantage of watching me go back to school, and juggle it all.  This should be interesting...for all of us...

I am already thinking ahead to meal planning - and preparing double recipes of dinners ahead of time that can be frozen and pulled out on a rotating schedule.  With everyone's busy lives I know that it will be necessary to have a meal plan - so we all know what to expect.  It's just simpler that way.  Haven't you ever found yourself racking your brain on the way home from work, trying to figure out what to make for dinner? A meal chart alleviates that stress from the mix.  So I am pulling out some of my tried and true resources from days gone by - including the list of meals that we all liked so I can start  to prepare and freeze.

In my old life, during the month off between semesters I would go on vacation with Diane and Mary, and read books for pleasure - so relaxing and decadent was I.  Now I am thinking that this will be the time that use to prepare & freeze meals and cookies and baking for the semester ahead.

Don't get me wrong.  Carlo and the kids are my biggest supporters.  They are really excited that I am taking the plunge, and have all pledged to help me with the "Mommy tasks" that I have always held a tight reign over - cooking, cleaning, etc..  And I know that much like my mother prepared me for the world, our beautiful daughters are already prepared to fly solo if they had to, but they really don't have to yet.

Actually, I see this as yet another opportunity for me to teach them some essential life lessons: that's it's never too late to follow your dreams (but more importantly, DO NOT cut them short when you're young); that things of value take hard work, effort and commitment; that if you want something done, give it to a busy person.   I am hoping to be a positive example for our daughters, am determined to succeed, and in doing so, I trust I will inspire them to reach for their own stars.

So, the sharing of new recipes may be fewer and farther between, but I think it's worth it...and who knows - we might even get Carlo to start writing about his recipes!

In the meantime, in the next couple of days I plan on posting a fantastic family recipe for perogies - it's perfect for making ahead and freezing (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) - that Grandma Rose (Uncle Jim's mother-in-law) shared with me when I was in Victoria this past January.  So stay tuned!

Until next time, I wish you all a wonderful weekend, filled with family, fun, friends and fantastic food.  B'Tayavon & Buon Appetito!