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Tuesday, 28 April 2015


 Front row:  Yulia, Serg, Roman, Yulia’s husband,
Back row:  Maria, Alexsandr, Miroslava

Yulia was Mom’s cousin.  She was tiny as a wren with the heart of an eagle.  Mom corresponded with Yulia and her family for years so it was very exciting to visit her in Ukraine.  As our car pulled up, Yulia's door opened and everyone came out to welcome us -- including the family from next door who insisted that they were also our relatives and we should spend a few minutes with them before leaving the village.  Turns out, the two families LIVING SIDE BY SIDE have feuded for YEARS.  Yulia put her case to me and I could not deny her request that we zoom off at the end without giving the next door relations the time of day!

 Maria was the cousin who visited all of us in the 1990s.  She was Yulia’s daughter, and Roman is her son.

Miroslava is also Yulia’s daughter.  She is married to Alexsandr and they are Serg’s parents.

Serg, Daniela, and Andrew

This post is about a couple of things that should never be lost –   lovely photos of some of our relatives in Ukraine and a recipe that I worked out in a way to make entertaining easier.


            Adapted from Helen Vail’s recipe.

2 pounds carrots
Scant ½ tsp salt
1 ½ cups water

2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
6 tbsp honey
4 tsp lemon juice

1.     Peel carrots and cut in 2 inch matchsticks.
2.     Fill large mixing bowl with cold water and set aside.
3.     Bring water to a boil with salt in large saucepan.  Add carrots.  Cook 4 minutes.
4.     Drain carrots and reserve the water.  Refresh carrots in cold water and drain.  Set aside.
5.     Return ½ cup of carrot water to the saucepan.  Add the remaining ingredients and cover.
6.     Five or ten minutes before serving time, put carrots into saucepan.
7.     Bring to a boil over high heat and continue boiling until the liquid evaporates.
8.     Stir frequently at the end to coat the carrots in glaze.

These carrots go very well with liver & onions or a pork roast J.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

A Peek at the life of a Ukrainian Pioneer Mom

Dad used to be away for weeks at a time in the winter, cutting trees.   One year, he was badly injured when a tree fell on him.

Meanwhile, Mom looked after four small children and the farm.    This can only give a small idea of her day.   She didn’t even mention bread making,   doing laundry on a washboard and a line, chopping wood, etc., etc.   Here’s what she did mention:

1.     Get up and put wood in the stove.
2.    Feed the animals.  (Mom didn’t milk in winter time.  She kept frozen skim milk for baking from January till April.) (I never thought to ask her how she did that.  She must have kept a number of covered pails outside in a shed because there was no electricity so no refrigeration.  Maybe Aunt Florence or Aunt Marion did the same.)
(a)        Fork feed into the mangers for 27-30 cows and calves and one horse.  Dad took the other horses into the bush with him.
(b)        Feed chickens and pigs.
(c)        Let the animals out.
3.   Feed the kids breakfast.  They are playing in the house, tearing up catalogs.
4.   Clean up.
5.   At lunch, feed the kids.
6.   At 3:30 or 4 pm, fork more feed into the mangers for the animals for night.
7.   Let the animals back into the barn and tie them up or they’ll hit one another.  (Or Mom would put only the bully cow in the manger – there was always one that wanted to eat what the others had.  There is always a leader among the cows.  She is first in line coming home and the others follow.  She manages the other cows.)

Mom said you have to be careful around cows.  Once a cow stepped on Mom’s foot and broke it.  She did not go to the doctor, but she knew it was broken.  The foot was sore and when it healed there was a bump.


Needless to say, Mom had to just carry on doing everything even with a broken foot.  No cast and none of this elevating the broken foot for a month.


What would Mom have cooked for her family?  Pyrohi, for sure . . .   

Here’s a delicious variation based on Annie Kabaloff’s recipe (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan):

(Annie says to use Winter Radishes:  I remember long white radishes on the farm being called that, but the closest thing in the grocery stores is the Daikon Radish.)

1 large Daikon Radish  (about 6 cups grated radish)
12 ounce onion
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ tsp pepper
¾ cup thick sour cream

·        Grate the radish (not finely).  Put it in a large bowl.
·        Boil large amount of water in tea kettle.
·        Fill another large mixing bowl with ice cold water.  (Put in some ice cubes.)
·        Cover grated radishes with boiling water and time one minute. 
·        Drain the radishes and drop into the ice cold water (but remove any floating ice chunks before adding  the grated radishes).

·        Drain and squeeze out as much water as possible.
·        Finely chop the onion and fry until softened in the oil (about 5 minutes).
·        Let onion cool.
·        Mix sour cream, salt, and pepper into the squeezed radishes.
·        Stir in the onions.
·        Fill the perogies.

There is enough filling for one batch of dough:  for dough recipe & instructions see :

Monday, 20 April 2015

Ukrainian Soldiers and more family stuff. . .

Baba Annie Leschyshyn lost two brothers in Ukraine during World War I.

        Vasil was killed in action.

        Michael, the younger one, was reported missing and never returned.  There were rumors that he went to Russia.

        Another brother died about the age of sixteen.  Mom said he had been crippled and weak all his life.

        Right after the war, Baba’s sister, Nellie, stepped on a land mine while digging potatoes, and was killed.

        Then, Poland took over this part of Ukraine. 

        When Baba’s father died, he divided his land between his sons and daughters.  Baba Annie thought some of this land was hers until 1929 when her mother died.  Annie had a buyer in Canada who wanted land in Ukraine, but, when she wrote to her sister, Fironyi, she was told that because Annie had gone to Canada, their mother had divided it among those who had stayed in Ukraine.

        The land remained in the hands of Annie’s relatives until after World War II when it was taken away by the Soviet Union.

As I grew up, I never knew that rice has long been a staple in Ukrainian 
food even though it’s in our holubtsi.  

The only time I like plain rice is when there’s a sauce to put on it.  Here’s a super recipe for when the meat course has no sauce.

RICE with RED BELL PEPPER:  5-6 servings

1 small onion
1 small red pepper
1 stalk celery (optional)
1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp chopped fresh sage or 1 tsp powdered sage
1 bay leaf
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 cup rice (American long grain)
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock (or water)

1.      Put onion, red pepper, and celery into a food processor and chop finely.
2.     Sauté the vegetables in the oil in a covered pan on low heat for 5 to 10 minutes.  Stir a few times while cooking.
3.     Add all the seasonings and the rice and sauté another minute.
4.     Add the stock or water, bring to a boil, lower heat, and cook on lowest heat for 15 minutes.
5.     Turn off heat and let stand for 5 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed.

·        When entertaining, I like to prepare this early in the day and then reheat it.  Preheat oven to 350 and put in oven, covered, for 30 minutes while you enjoy a relaxing cocktail with your guests.

*This is very good with a pork roast.   

Wednesday, 15 April 2015


Dublin Coddle:  if you can sail blithely by a recipe with that title, you  haven’t a drop of Irish in you. 

Almost frighteningly simple, this dish, nevertheless, delivers in the  taste department.  Even the leftovers are excellent.

According to Lindsay Bareham, this is the authentic version.

1 pound pork sausages or pork patties
4 cups water
3 pounds potatoes
8 slices bacon (thick-sliced)
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper

1.      Boil the sausages and bacon in the water for 5 minutes.
2.     Remove meat and reserve the water.
3.     Cut up the meat.
4.     Start preheating oven to 300.
5.     Peel and slice the potatoes.
6.     Alternate layers of potatoes with layers of meat.  Sprinkle the layers of potatoes with salt and pepper.
7.     Pour over the reserved water.
8.     Cover and cook for 2 hours into a semi-thick stew, serve with a salad,

and raise a glass. 


Slainte, Maureen and Angela  J

Thursday, 9 April 2015


 What did it take to make this super successful party?

Anastasia at the helm

A party room big enough for the kids to run around in


 pleasant conversation

Loads of good food

including Macaroni and Cheese Casserole for the kids  




Bohdan Zahny’s wonderful Spinach Babka would have fit in perfectly.

1 pound spinach
½ pound bread
1 cup milk
2 eggs
4 tbsp butter
1 tbsp sugar
¾ tsp salt

2 tbsp breadcrumbs

1.      Wash spinach well and cut off stems. 
2.     Place in large pot.  Pour over 2 cups boiling water and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes.
3.     Drain and puree.
4.     Preheat oven to 350.
5.     Soak bread in milk. 
6.     Stir in melted butter, egg yolks, sugar, and salt.
7.     Stir into spinach.
8.     Beat the egg whites and fold into the spinach.
9.     Butter a large casserole and sprinkle it with breadcrumbs.
10.                          Pour in spinach and bake for 50 minutes.

I know this is weird-looking and weird-sounding but HONESTLY, this SPINACH BABKA is AMAZING!

Wednesday, 8 April 2015


Porcelain tiles are not made in Mexico.   They're more expensive, but not really ‘better’ than ceramic.

The amazing thing about ceramic tiles is that you can just scrape paint off them with a knife.  If you’ve got lots of paint spatters, scrub it off with those steel pot scrubbers.   Perfect for an artist's studio! 

Wax crayon also wipes right off.   Pencil crayons are just a bit more work.

Good-bye grubby carpets in hallways and bedrooms J

Hello, new tiles J

Oh, oh, there's a problem L   

                                                         and here's the solution J  


Just when I was all happy because I had gotten to the bottom of my package of grits that I had no intention of replacing, I had to go and make “Smoky Cheese Grits” and they had to be amazing!   

            from CHATELAINE MAGAZINE:  May 2012
1 cup corn grits
¾ tsp salt
5 cups water DIVIDED
4 ounces grated smoked cheddar
½ cup chopped cilantro

1.     Grate cheddar and chop cilantro.  Set aside.
2.      Stir grits with salt and 2 CUPS water over medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes.
3.     When grits start to thicken add 2 more cups of water and stir about 8 minutes until grits thicken again.
4.     Stir in 1 more cup of water and cook, stirring frequently, for 8 to 10 more minutes until grits are slightly thickened.
5.     Stir in grated cheddar and half of the cilantro.
6.     Garnish with remaining cilantro and serve.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

St. Pete's Beach, Florida

Just sitting indoors with my leg elevated – doctor’s orders – so it seems like a good time to do a blog post.  I had a pleasant flashback, yesterday, to our holiday in Florida, so I figure I’ll enjoy immersing myself in memories of sunny days, white sand, and tropical cocktails.

Our flight out of Laredo was delayed so we missed our connection in Dallas, but American Airlines comped our dinner at TGI Fridays.
On the plane, I sat between a well-dressed lady on her way to a deathbed and a large man who had, only 2 weeks before, had a hip replacement.  They both commiserated with me over my injured foot.

At the Tampa airport Bryan upgraded our rental to a Ford SUV and we checked into The Tradewinds Island Resort before midnight.  Our room was in the building closest to the beach, but it was actually the beautiful hotel lobby that inspired the flashback. 

At the Concierge desk, arrangements were made to rent a wheelchair for a week for $25.00. 

There was no charge, however, for the beach chair. 

It wasn’t easy for Bryan or Nicole to push it, but, without it, I would never have made it down to the water.

The beach goes on for miles and miles.  Naturally, we spent our first day here.   

My main reason for choosing St. Pete’s over other beach destinations was the Salvador Dali museum in nearby St. Petersburg.  Diana had already seen it and loved it. 

Outside, there’s a lot to enjoy, too,  including a labyrinth.

On one of our beach excursions, a beach attendant took the dune buggy away for someone else, promising to come back for me.   

When no one did, I started crab walking back along the beach while Bryan raced about trying to get help.  I got a bit steamed up about this, so the hotel erased the charges for that day.

Another day, we ventured out again to St. Petersburg; this time to a delightful Children’s Museum.

A really special evening was spent in a beach restaurant where we saw two different weddings.   

Sigh.  It really was a wonderful  holiday.