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Tuesday, 30 October 2012

KOORYACHA HOROPKA . . . Eyes of a Werewolf ???

Baba Leschyshyn was afraid of the supernatural.  Coming home in a wagon once, she was frightened when she saw something black behind a fence where no one lived.  She didn’t tell Gedo, however, until they got home because you were never supposed to. 

My mother was superstitious, too.  She told me, “If you put on more garments it will be cold.  If you lack one, it will be warm.”       . . .         Someone must have been wearing too many layers in Saskatchewan and northern Alberta a few days ago because winter has arrived there a bit early this year.


A dish for HALLOWEEN:  Cut slices of stuffed green olives to put in centre of egg yolks.  Tell the kids they’re eating EYES of a WEREWOLF.

KOORYACHA HOROPKA  (Jellied Chicken)

based on The Best of Ukrainian Cuisine by Bohdan Zahny

Prepare this dish a day ahead of your dinner party.

                2 ½ pounds chicken thighs
                6 cups water
                1 medium onion
                1 medium or large carrot
                10 peppercorns
                1 bay leaf
                2 whole cloves
                ¾ tsp salt
                3 eggs
                ½ tsp gelatin

  1. Chop onion coarsely and set aside on a plate.
  2. Place chicken in Dutch oven.  Cover with water.  Bring to a boil.  Skim off the scum.   
  3. Add onions, peppercorns, bay leaf, cloves and salt.
  4. When broth returns to a boil, lower heat to very low and keep uncovered at very low simmer for 2 hours.
(Check the broth from time to time.  If it’s evaporating too quickly, you’ll need to add water, but try not to.)
  1. Hardboil the eggs.  (I lower them into rapidly boiling water and time them 13 minutes, then drain, and cover with cold water.
  2. Chop carrot into ½ inch dice.
  3. After 2 hours, add carrot to broth.  Simmer for 15 more minutes.
  4. With slotted spoon, remove chicken from broth.
  5. Strain the broth.  Save only the carrots.
  6. Degrease the broth with a gravy cup.  You should have 2 cups of broth.  (If you have more, boil it to reduce it.  If you have too little, add store-bought bouillon or water.)
  1. Remove the bones from the chicken.  Also discard the skin.
  2. Arrange the thighs neatly in a 9 inch casserole dish.
  3. Distribute the boiled carrots throughout.
  4. Peel and slice the hardboiled eggs.
  5. Distribute the egg slices decoratively.
  6. In a small saucepan, heat ½ cup broth and mix in ½ tsp gelatin.  When it is dissolved, add the rest of the broth.
  7. Pour the broth over the chicken and eggs.
  8. Refrigerate.  Do not cover until chilled (or liquid will condense on the lid of the casserole).
  9. Refrigerate overnight.
  10. Serve with tangy side dishes such as German Potato Salad. 
*Serves  6 to 8 as a main course.

Small squares of the Jellied Chicken, seasoned with a grind of fresh pepper, also can be served as an appetizer.  My daughter’s verdict:  “Very good!”


Bohdan Zahny’s recipe for Jellied Chicken reminds me of the Canned Chicken Mom used to make. 

In November, 1973,  Mom wrote:
We killed more chickens on Monday so I been canning yesterday and today I canned 21 quarts so far. One thing about electric stove while the meat was cooking today I lay down for 1 ½ hour.   With wood stove I would had to stay up and push wood in.




Friday, 26 October 2012


when I was in Grade 2

Mom was 34 years old when I was born.   I was the sixth of seven children . . .  and I was born on the homestead, with no doctor in attendance.   There were complications at the end, but my father dealt with them.

My brother Nestor was only a year and nine months when I arrived.   As soon as he saw me, he generously offered me his ‘pipka’.   But I had such a tiny mouth that Dad had to go into town to buy a special nipple for the milk bottles. 

I like cake, but if I'm given a dessert choice, and since it's my birthday I think I might be, I'll choose    PUDDING!

Here's one of my all-time favourites –


¼ cup butter or margarine (Mom preferred margarine)
¾ cup brown sugar, not packed
2 cups milk
6 tbsp flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 egg
½ cup Whipping cream

  1.  Whip ½ cup cream until stiff and set aside in the fridge.
  2. Beat the egg.
  3. Melt butter and brown sugar in a saucepan.
  4. Mix in the flour.
  5. Add some of the milk.  Whisk until there are no lumps.
  6. Beat some hot mixture into the egg.  Whisk egg and rest of the milk into the saucepan.
  7. Cook until thickened and shiny.  Whisk again at the end if necessary to remove lumps.
  8. Pour into pudding dishes, chill, and serve with a dollop of whipping cream.

I remember using my finger to happily clean every last bit of golden pudding out of the aluminum double boiler Mom used for cooking it.

Thursday, 18 October 2012


 I was once a picky eater.
We had a round, dark, oak table that was always extended with one or two leaves.
I used to sit under it and contemplate the crosspieces dotted with dried up pieces of spinach or matina I had managed to slip off my plate and secrete there when Mom was talking to someone else or off to the kitchen for more food.

Now, I’ll try just about anything . . .
And I love most cooked leafy greens. 

Aline, I’ll bet you still have some of this Swiss chard in your garden.

I’ve often used Swiss chard in recipes calling for spinach and I’m not the only one.   Have a look at:

Here’s a good brunch recipe based on something in an old cookbook Nicole picked up:
Southern Living 1982 Annual Recipes.


4 eggs
1 pound fresh spinach
¼ cup butter
¼ cup flour
1 ½ cups milk
1/8 tsp cayenne
2 slices white bread
4 ounces sharp Cheddar

1.        Hardboil the eggs.
2.       Wash the spinach.  Cut off the stems and chop these finely in a food processor.  Chop the leaves coarsely.
3.       Put spinach stems and leaves in a Dutch oven and add 1 tbsp water.  Cover and cook over high heat for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Drain if there’s liquid in the pan.
4.       Butter a 9 or 10 inch round casserole. 
5.       Make fresh, soft breadcrumbs by whirling bread in food processor.
6.       Grate the cheese.
7.       Melt butter in a saucepan over medium high heat and whisk in flour.  Cook for 1 minute and whisk in the milk.  Switch to a wooden spoon and cook until thickened.
8.       Peel and slice the eggs.
9.       Start preheating the oven to 350.
10.   Distribute a half cup of breadcrumbs on bottom of casserole.  Next put in half of the spinach, then half of the egg slices, then half the cheese, and then half the sauce.
11.   Repeat the layers, finishing with bread crumbs on top.
12.   Bake for 40 minutes.

It looks really good with those toasted breadcrumbs on top.  Serve with:

  Marinated Tomatoes and Onions  (from same cookbook)

Slice 2 tomatoes and ½ a medium onion.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
Mix together ¼ cup olive oil and 2 tbsp red wine vinegar.  Pour over the tomatoes & onions and stir about.  Marinate, covered, for half an hour or more. 



 You can turn off the oven and leave the casserole inside for another 20 minutes.  It stays hot and good.
Cook ahead and reheat for 20 to 30 minutes in 350 degree oven.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012


A holiday in Laredo equals FOOD ADVENTURE!

 My daughter, Nicole, is a wonderful and INTREPID cook.
 Thanksgiving Dinner started around 2:30 pm with cocktails and a prosciutto appetizer, continued at 6:30 pm with a delicious brined, stuffed turkey main course, and finished about 9 pm with a pumpkin-pecan pie.
Another amazing dinner featured a Kale salad and Pork Belly with a hot Asian sauce.
Most surprising were the breakfasts: a Baked Banana-Oatmeal, a porridge made of faro and pecans, and a Kale Frittata.

I liked all the kale – much to everyone's surprise.  

But Nicole is a working girl so Bryan and I took a turn cooking as well. 



Ukrainian Spinach Dumplings:  based on Susan Feniger’s recipe
Lemon Marmalade:  based on Susan Feniger’s recipe
Steamed Garlic Sausage:   Pederson’s Natural Farms Uncured Kielbasa Smoked:  purchased at
Central Market in San Antonio:  delicious


Cooking in someone else’s kitchen always means hunting about for ingredients, but, this time, I was nonplussed by some things right out in the open . . .

Flour in Texas looks and feels silky . . . like cornstarch!

But it works.



This is enough perogy filling for 2 batches of dough!!

PEROGY FILLING:                                                              LEMON MARMALADE:

1 lb potatoes                                                                     5 small lemons                                                             
2 tbsp olive oil                                                                                                  
8 ounces onion                                                                 1 cup sugar
1 ¼ lbs zucchini (up to 1 ½ lbs)                                         ¼ tsp salt
1 lb fresh spinach                                                            2 tbsp water
¼ lb feta cheese


1.        Wash spinach, chop coarsely, and drain.  Set aside in large bowl.
2.       Grate the zucchini.  Set aside in another bowl.
3.       Chop onion finely in food processor.
4.       Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add onion and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Increase heat to max and stir for 2 more minutes.
5.       Add zucchini and ½ tsp salt.  Cook over max heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
6.       Add spinach and stir over max heat for 2 more minutes.
7.       Drain in colander for at least 30 minutes.  Stir and press occasionally to remove liquid.
8.        Cut up unpeeled potatoes and put in small saucepan with 1 cup water and ½ tsp salt.  Boil for 15 minutes.  Test.  Cook a further 5 minutes, if needed.
9.        Peel potatoes and rice (or grate on largest holes).
10.   Grate or crumble feta and add to potatoes.
11.   Add ½ tsp salt to potatoes & feta.
12.   Mix spinach into potatoes.

For perogy dough and cooking method, see my first blog:


A.       Peel the lemons thinly and slice the peel finely.   (2 ounces peel)
B.      Remove all the pith and cut the lemons into ½ inch pieces.  Discard membrane and seeds.  (9 ounces)
C.      Put peel and lemon into a small saucepan with the water, sugar, and salt.  Over high heat, boil, while stirring, about 5 minutes.
D.      Lower heat and cook for 20 minutes until thick.


Sprinkle hot, fresh perogies with chopped dill.

REHEATING SPINACH PEROGIES  (as suggested by Susan Feniger)

Sauté perogies lightly in butter on each side.  Spoon sour cream onto a plate and top with some marmalade, then the perogies.  Sprinkle with dill. 


Verdict:  The marmalade works with the garlic sausage as well as the perogies.  It also would be great on toast with eggs.  Thanks, Susan.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

WEDDING DAY: Nick and Mary Stadnyk

on October 14, 1931, Mary Leschyshyn married Nick Stadnyk

                According to Mary’s sister, Florence, Mary designed her dress which was pleated with each pleat cut in a triangle.  Florence thought Mary was very creative in doing this but the unusual, uneven hemline surprised many of the ladies at the wedding.
            The lady who made Mary’s stylish, calf-length dress charged $5.00 which she accepted in the form of labour – Mary’s father plastered the lady’s house for her as the lady was pregnant and couldn’t do it herself.  (If she had been paid in cash, she would have charged less.)  The material for Mary’s dress cost $4.00 and the basic pattern was probably 50cents.  Brides at that time did not carry a bouquet.  Instead, Mary wore a wreath in her hair.

                 First, there was the regular church service that always took three hours.  Afterwards, the priest performed the wedding service which took an additional hour.

                The groom then escorted the bride to the bride’s house for the dinner.  The bride’s mother, Anna, led them to the table.
                A prayer was given.  Mary said, “The prayer could be given by the priest or the cantor or the godfather.  Godfathers were very important those days.”

                The man who was asked to serve as toastmaster begged the guests to have a good meal and enjoy themselves.  He worked so hard that Mary got a headache from all the clapping and stomping!

The groom’s place was set with a knife, fork, and spoon, but the bride had no eating utensils.  The groom was expected to feed the bride for a while.  Then she was given utensils of her own.

                All the tables were laden with bowls of food.  The first course, as expected and essential, was kicto, fine noodles in golden chicken broth. 


6 eggs
1 cup warm water
6 cups flour

  1.  Measure flour into a large bowl.
  2. Beat the eggs in another bowl and add the water.
  3. Add egg mixture to the flour and make a stiff dough.  Knead well.
  4. Let dough rest for ½ hour.
  5. Divide dough into small pieces.
  6. Roll out these pieces until you have very thin sheets.
Mary Stadnyk’s granddaughter Lisa

  1. Put a table cloth on the table.  Spread sheets of dough out on this cloth and let dry for a while but not until brittle.
  2.  Cut in 2 ½ inch wide strips and pile 4 or 5 on top of each other.  Cut these into thin noodles.  If dough is sticky, put a little flour between each strip.


Tuesday, 2 October 2012


October 2, 1912:  Mom was born in Rossburn, Manitoba.  She was a weak baby and was baptized immediately in a Roman Catholic Church at Olha because it was thought she would die.

Mom said that Gedo named her Marina, but her baptismal certificate says Maria Leszczesin and her parents are given as John and Anna Leszczesin.

 (If anyone is interested in looking for possible relatives in the cemetery in Lviv, this Polish spelling of their last name should be noted.) 

“That was the name I was called till I went to school,” she remembered.   “Then the teacher called me Mary Leschasin, but as I changed teachers, my last name became Leschyshyn.”


I have chosen to feature Mom’s Borsch today because it was one of her signature dishes.

Mom had great pride in her cooking and in not ‘skimping’ on the amount of food for the table.   It had to be set out all at the same time.  Sometimes, there hardly seemed room for everything, but, if anyone suggested that maybe bread wasn’t necessary because there was so much already, Mom insisted.  She explained with a story -- Mom always had a story:

                A gypsy in the Old Country knocked on the door when the lady of the house was preparing dinner.
                “Can you spare something to eat?” he begged.
                So the lady gave him a pitcher of buttermilk and went on with her work.  When the borsch was ready, she gave him a bowl.  When the vareniki (perogies) were ready, she handed him a plate full.  But he had stuffed himself already with buttermilk and borsch.
                “Lady,” he groaned, “you are a fine cook, but, alas, you don’t know how to serve.”


Mom wrote out her Borsch recipe for me.

Mary was left-handed but always wrote with her right hand because she was forced to do so at school.

1.  Fill a stock pot half full of water.
2.  Add a disjointed chicken and 1 ½ teaspoons salt and cook for one hour on medium heat.
3.  In the meantime, peel and cut up 4 beets, 1 carrot, 2 potatoes, and 1 large onion.
4.  Chop parsley or dill if you have them.
5.  After the hour is up, increase the heat to high under the pot and add the vegetables.
6.  When the pot boils again, reduce heat to medium and cook 20 minutes.
7.  Now add 3 tablespoons vinegar.  If you like it more tart, add 1 more tablespoon.
8.  Put 2 tablespoons flour in a medium bowl.  Add enough milk to make a paste like for gravy.
9.  When smooth, add 1 cup cream and stir with a whisk.  Then add 1 cup milk.
10.  Stir all into the borsch and boil 15 minutes.  Then serve. 

2008:   Mom’s Borsch
(made by Nestor and Kathy)

Mom said, “I hope you have good luck as in borsch it’s the cooking that counts.  You can add more milk if you wish.  It all depends on how it tastes.”

Any meat cooked in the borsch is delicious.  Often, Mom used a pork roast instead of chicken.

Kathy says, “While the veggies were cooking, clean the meat off the bones and then add it back just to heat up before serving.”  She also noted that the dollop of sour cream is not necessary; it’s just there to make a nicer picture.

Nestor’s portrait of Mom


Geese overhead,

Salamanders in the grass,

David working in the yard,

Karen taking us for a tour,

Donald saying he has smoked ever since he was 5 years old,

Zeuss thinking he’s the boss of everyone,

Visiting Donald and Karen is always fun!

Monday, 1 October 2012


It’s never been easy to get pictures of my brothers, but here we are . . .

George, Eleanor, Nestor

I was thrilled to find my grandniece, Djamal, had come home for a visit.

A visit to George and Aline is also a coming home for me since I grew up just a mile down this road.

Here’s the cow pasture and the dugout where Nestor, Diana, and I chased little ducks . . .

. . . and the stones where we sat for our picnics.

Ah, the charm of old familiar views . . .

. . . and old toys.  Nestor actually had her running once upon a time.

Best of all, the warm welcome of my favourite snacks and a cold beer . . .

Aline, your pickles and salsa were amazing!

It was lovely to be back.