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.