May – Mother’s Day/Memorial Day

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St. Pope John Paul II Kolacky

IMG_6619Homemade, ethnic pastries take a trip to Rome and delight Pope John Paul II…  Yes, this happened to Eleanor’s Kolacky.  Bishop Alfred Abramowicz , a resident Bishop at Five Holy Martyrs in Chicago, offered to take the baked Kolacky to the Pope when he traveled to the Papal Conclave of Cardinals and Bishops.  As you look into her eyes on this You Tube video clip, you can see the magic of this memory and how much she treasures the letter from Pope John Paul II, thanking her for the delicious goodies.  Enjoy this golden moment with her!

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Eleanor Brasky with her Kolacky

Eleanor Brasky’s Kolacky

An ethnic family recipe that was past down from generation to generation. Eleanor is now 92 years old and was instrumental in providing food to the Five Holy Martyrs parish as both volunteer member of the parish hospitality committee and a special occasion cook over the years.  Her husband, Edmund “Babe” and herself owned a neighborhood grocery store that also supplied food to the clergy for many special occasions.  One of those occasions was the visit of Cardinal Karol Wojtyła  (Future Pope John Paul II) as a cardinal in Poland at Five Holy Martyrs parish.  An interesting fact was that the Wojtyła name was also the last name of Eleanor’s grandmother.  An interesting coincidence that made her connection with the Pope even more meaningful.

White and Dark Chocolate Cookies

‘                       URL link for Pope John Paul II Kolacky Recipe

pdf link to Pope John Paul II Kolacky Recipe

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A Depression Favorite Recipe

1933 – American Style- Chop Suey 

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!933 American Style – Chop Suey

It was the world of 1933….there wasn’t time for people to sit down and weep when things went wrong. It was everyone’s job to keep the family out of debt, maintaining the balance between money earned and money spent. Depression dinners were designed with what was available, and cooks learned to be inventive.

One recipe surfaced to offer a world of dreams – a trip to the other side of the world –A copy of this recipe was printed in A&P ads offering Chop Suey – American Style. It was a recipe which most cooks made and even designed their way. The first recipe used only onions and celery, but when canned Asian vegetables were introduced, many home cooks added them to the original recipe.

White and Dark Chocolate Cookies

URL link to 1933 – American Style – Chop Suey

pdf link to Recipe of 1933 American Style – Chop Suey

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Lillian’s Czechoslovakian Strudel Recipe

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In Memory’s Kitchen …

A Legacy from the Women of Terezin   BELIEVE

Imagine how you might feel if someone handed you a book written long ago by your deceased mother. Anny, who now lived in New York received a call from a woman who said she had a package for you from your mother. This package has taken a quarter century long journey from the Czechoslovak ghetto concentration camp of Terezin to its final destination. Inside the package was a picture of Mina and Anny’s son and a collection of letters, and a fragile bound book filled with cracked , crumbling pages with a multitude of treasured recipes in different scripts. The pages were torn, brittle, and difficult to read. The handwriting changed from one day to the next.

When she held it, it felt holy and it was like her mother’s hand reached out to her with recipes like Onion Kuchen, Farina Dumplings, Winter Salad, Linzer Torte, and different kinds of Strudel.

No one really knows if these recipes were written to bring hope, comfort, and sharing. What it did show was that it was an act of psychological resistance and a testimony to the power of food to sustain us spiritually. Our traditions, associations, rituals of family life around the table are critical components of our essential identities. It is a sense of self and this recipe book showed how these women, in the face of adversity, fought on.

I would guess that this cookbook offered a Belief in a better life and the possibility of preparing foods that were meaningful to their culture. The manuscript didn’t feed their bodies but it really fed their spiritual souls.

 

White and Dark Chocolate Cookies

 

‘            URL link to 1943 – Czechoslovakian Apple Strudel

 pdf link to Czechoslovakian Apple Strudel 

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1944 – Rumford War Cake

 

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Rumford War Cake – No Butter, No Eggs, No Dairy

No Butter, No Eggs, No Dairy – Rationing of food stuffs was a real life challenge during the WWII years.

It wasn’t long before many mothers found themselves working in a war plant which stimulated the simplification of easier dinners.  Informality entered and other members of the family learned to cook.  The extra money became a necessity and companies responded by producing dried milk, mixes, gelatin, dry pudding mixes, and frozen products eased their way into our lives.

It’s hard to believe how difficult it was for all those mothers to hold the family together, support the war effort, and even change her very self to serve her country and her family.  The lesson that they demonstrated for us was their extraordinary spirit of cooperation, pulling together.  One story that was shared with me involved the transportation of eggs.  It was difficult to get eggs so people on farms sent eggs to family members in the cities in something called egg mailers. An interesting fact shared by one farm family was that messages or bits of letters were written on the eggs. As I researched this period in history, I found a recipe for a War Cake and wondered how it would taste. It wasn’t like our fluffy butter cakes but more like a spicy fruit cake. Also, since dairy products were limited, many cooks learned to whip evaporated milk to form a sort of whipped cream.

White and Dark Chocolate Cookies

 

‘             URL link to video clip of Rumford War Cake Recipe

pdf link to Recipe for Rumford War Cake

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