Over the years, the edges of my family have frayed, mainly because of death and divorce. F-town itself looks different; someone removed all of the rusting mine machinery that was melting back into the land, and the state built a gigantic prison across the river that lights up the night like a persistent flashlight pointed skyward. There are many things, however, that have resisted such change. The house that I grew up in (ran through in my bare feet, read in, perched beside the window in my closet, snuck into late, late at night) is still there. Every time my car noses its way back into that valley, the land comes alive with memories. It's kind of like a hologram, lifting up out of the dirt, rising like a ghost and blotting out what is actually there with something much more vivid and alive.
Some of the happiest memories I have are of my family's Christmas Eves, before everyone went their separate ways. My father's side of the family, from what I can piece together, is of Carpatho-Rusyn, Czechoslovakian, and Ukrainian descent. Here are three things that I will be making, as I try to bring some ghosts back to life.
|Sauerkraut Balls Via|
This recipe from Food.com is pretty similar to my family's (I'd share my uncle's, but then I'd have to kill you;)).
God love me, I am going to try to make Pirohi this year, from my Carpatho-Rusyn Cookery cookbook, put out many years ago by a local Byzantine-Catholic Church. Here's a rundown of the recipe.
2 cups flour
3/4 cup potato water
Two pinches of salt
1/2 cup oil
1 small onion
Mix flour and salt in a deep bowl. Make a well in the dough and add the potato water to make a pliable dough. knead the dough. Roll dough out 1/8 inch thick and cut into three or four inch squares or circles. Place a small amount of filling and pinch all around the edge to seal well to prevent filling from running out. Drop pirohi into boiling salted water. Wait for water to boil again and boil pirohi for about three to four minutes. Stir gently with a flat wooden spoon during the process to make sure all the pirohi are cooked thoroughly. Remove pirohi carefully and put in colander. Drain and pour cold water over them to prevent pirohi from sticking together. In a skillet, use 1/2 cup oil (my grandmother used butter) to fry onions until they are golden brown. Pour onion mixture over pirohi and they are ready to serve. Filling (mashed potatoes, with chopped onions fried in butter).
Rugelach (or Little Twists)
|Chocolate-Cherry Rugelach Via|
My grandmother made this sort of thing look so easy. I have a feeling making them will not be. But I'm going to try. Oh, and if I get drunk and sing all night long... it's a .... family tradition. A/J