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Grandma's Recipes Leave Handful of Memories

Posted: Wednesday, December 08, 2004

"Can you imagine preparing a meal without ever consulting a cookbook or looking at a recipe?

That's exactly what my Grandma Simkulet did each and every Russian Orthodox holiday."

Grandma was a well-known cook who not only ran a boarding house, but also regularly created Slavic specialties for her eight children, their spouses, and her 17 grandchildren without ever using written instructions. The reason? My grandma immigrated to America from the "old country" as an orphaned teenager who never had the opportunity to learn how to read or write in either Slavic or English. In the kitchen, her measurements consisted of a handful of this, a coffee cup of that, or a pinch of salt and spice. Despite the lack of modern-day precision, Grandma's cooking was remarkably consistent and devoured with gusto by all the family. Because my grandma grew up in an impoverished country, good food and plentiful family members were a vital part of her American dream. I can still remember her pushing more food upon me as a child, "Eat more. Eat more," she'd command with her broken accent.

When Christmas Day dinner was finished and the table cleared, my grandmother would gather all of her grandchildren in what she called the "back room". Grandma tossed handfuls of nuts still in their shells and wrapped candies up against the ceiling and walls, while we all scrambled to rake in the heaven-sent treats, hoarding our own little piles and scooping them up into brown paper bags.

Kolache (pronounced co-la'-chee), a sweet dough filled with ground poppy seeds, was an ethnic pastry we all loved. Given that Grandma didn't leave any written recipes, I've since found the following one that very closely resembles Grandma's kolache from an old church cookbook of my mother's. Doubrou chut' (Enjoy!)"

Ceske Kolache

(Czech Kolache)

Kolache (pronounced co-la'-chee), a sweet dough filled with ground poppy seeds, was an ethnic pastry we all loved. Given that Grandma didn't leave any written recipes, I've since found the following one that very closely resembles Grandma's kolache from an old church cookbook of my mother's. Doubrou chut' (Enjoy!)"

2 pkg. dry yeast

1/2 cup lukewarm milk

3 t. sugar

6 cups flour

1 t. salt

1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature

3 eggs, beaten

1 cup sour cream

Solo poppy seed filling (or *homemade poppy seed filling - recipe follows)

1. Dissolve yeast in lukewarm milk with 1 t. of the sugar.

2. Combine butter, salt, remaining sugar, eggs, and sour cream. Gradually add flour.

3. Add yeast mixture. Blend well.

4. Form ball, cover, and let rest 30 minutes.

5. Divide dough into 4 parts. Roll out each part thin as for jelly roll dough.

6. Spread with poppy seed filling*.

7. Roll up lengthwise. Place on greased pan. Let rise for 1 hour or until double.

8. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. When cool, sprinkle top with powdered sugar and slice rounds.

Alternative: You may make individual kolache by rolling out small balls of dough about the size of an egg. Using a spoon, make an indentation for the center for 1 teaspoon of filling. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until dough is lightly browned.

*Poppy Seed Filling

1 cup ground poppy seed

1 1/2 cups milk

1/2 cup sugar

Combine all ingredients and cook slowly for 20 minutes, until thick.

From the kitchen of: Dorothy Grey, Kenai



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