Thursday, January 26, 2012

Palachinki Fit For A Prince

Every time I make crepes [once in a blue moon] I wonder why I don't do it every week! You'd expect that something so delicate and dainty and scrumptious would be difficult to make but they're super easy.......
My mother-in-law, Maria, who is gone to her hard-earned, eternal reward, R.I.P. called them palachinki, which seems to cover Ukrainian, Czech and Polish versions, and possibly others. She always made them with a sweetened cheese filling, and if she needed something from The Prince, making palachinki guaranteed she'd get it! Back in the Old Country,  The Prince's  mother went to what would now be called "culinary arts school" but was probably called plain old cooking school back then! He frequently waxes poetic about what a wonderful baker and cook she was. Maria, my mother-in-law, was the only cook who came close to being the equal of Mama!

He is 89 years old now. Mama is long gone, and so is Maria. And his teeth don't fit properly, and are uncomfortable, in spite of the small fortune he spent on dental work. He can't hear, and doesn't listen anyway, and keeps his hearing aid in the safety of a velvet lined box. He's on a mission to find a cure for old age, but he's not having much success. Everything but the blandest food upsets his stomach.  He laments loudly and frequently that Americans don't know what good cooking is. And me?  Can't refuse a challenge. He's probably manipulating me!  But no matter. Today I made palachinki. Because I can! I mixed up the batter last night which didn't take more than five minutes. The crepes are lighter if the batter sits overnight [or at least a few hours] in the fridge.

My first few are  usually not so good, but after I hit my stride [or the pan gets hot enough!] I'm as good as his Mama! Who's going to prove me wrong?!  I cook them just until the edges look dry,  then flip, or, if  not feeling courageous, turn them with a spatula, and cook a few seconds  more, until some freckles form on the underside.

I cool them on a wire rack, then stack them on a plate with wax paper between.

The cook always has to sample a few. Wouldn't want to go poisoning anyone! This cook tried a few, a la Blister, with a sprinkle of sugar and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Oh, yum!

She did manage to restrain herself so there were a few left for The Prince! This last one, obviously, would not pass quality control....but the cook's not fussed. It tasted just as delicious to her as the perfectly round ones!

When the children were growing up palachinki disappeared as fast as they came off the pan! Sugar and cinnamon was the favourite topping.  Roll them up and eat them on the spot!  They also taste yummy spread with your favourite jam. And, if you want to get really fancy,  pour brandy on them, light a match and you have Crepes Suzette!  Leave the sugar out of the batter and you can fill them with vegetables or any other savory filling.

But for tonight---Maria's cheese filling, which mixes up in about five minutes. It consists of 1 lb.Farmers' cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, 1-2 tsp vanilla, a handful of raisins, two egg yolks and a dash of salt. If Farmers' cheese is not available you can substitute half cream cheese and half cottage cheese, well drained, or half ricotta. If the mixture is too thick you can add a tablespoon or two of sour cream.

Mix  together, spoon onto the crepes, roll them up and place in a single layer in a baking pan. Sprinkle with sugar and chopped nuts and they're ready for the oven.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for twenty minutes. Remove the foil and bake five minutes more.

After his first bite The Prince gave me a thumbs up! Gasp! No complaints? I hope Maria is watching from the Great Kitchen In The Sky. I was never quite good enough, but damn! I can make palachinki fit for a Prince!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

They've Got To Be Joking!

I promised myself [or the gods of unfinished projects] that I would do some hand quilting before going to bed tonight. It's on a beautiful quilt that I just-need-to-finish-already. But first, a quick peek at a few blogs. That's a rock my good intentions have perished on before!

I was happy to see a post from The Lassie who has been very quiet of late, and delighted to hear that her baby boy was born just before Christmas. Which would explain the un-blogging. That, and not having an easy birth. I was eager to congratulate her and offer some comforting words. But I had to log in or register in order to read the full post

Wordpress instructed me to enter my name and password. Hmmm. This could be tricky. I try to operate with as few passwords as possible, not having exactly a steel trap between my ears.

 I tried

 It didn't work.

 Either Wordpress had never heard of me, or I had forgotten who I was, or where I was going, or what day of the week it was, or what my password was, or if I was still on planet earth or off in la-la-land!

Wordpress graciously offered to e-mail me a new password. I clicked over to my e-mail to get it.

Here's my new password:



There are rude words that occurred to me, but I'll content myself here with question marks.

Are they serious?

Or are they bored at Wordpress tonight and having a little joke?

Have a little mercy boys!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Proof That I'm An Optimist

I can't help myself.

 I make New Year's Resolutions every year, in spite of an abysmal track record. Have to maximize that surge of energy that comes with hanging a brand new calendar on the wall.

 "Organize the sewing room" has tenure on my list. It is the granddaddy of my resolutions, an outgrowth of another one --- to bloody well finish what I started---an unspecified number of half-done, almost there, and barely out of the starting blocks quilting projects. It's been on the list as long as I've had a sewing room, about twelve years. What a luxury to have a place where I can leave the machine set up, ready for whatever opportunity---five minutes here, half an hour there! You'd think I'd keep it neat as a pin, but it always seems to be in some degree of chaos..... I never actually get it as organized as I would like, but making a resolution to at least attempt the daunting task encourages me not to give up the fight! If I did, then I'd have to sit and sew in the midst of what can, at times, look like the aftermath of a hurricane.  In my heart I am a tidy person. [No cackling from the peanut gallery please.] In the rest of the house everything is pretty much in its place, but step over the threshold of the sewing room......and it looks like the National Guard needs to be called in.

Or did.

I've been in there every day this year so far, sewing and organizing...

My sister-in-law stopped by the other day. Flushed with pride in my accomplishments, I took her back there to show her my progress. She stood in the doorway, nonplussed. She would never say ---

"So. You got all the pins into one box. What do you want? A medal?"

She's too polite for that.

But she was thinking it.

 I could tell.

She was less impressed than I that I had organized my button collection.

Such dilemmas. All those lone, spare buttons in their tiny zip lock bags---should they be in a jar of their own or mercilessly ripped from their tiny bags and tossed in among the monsters in the general button jar, there to sink to oblivion, down through the spaces between bigger, flashier numbers? Or would it maintain for them a little shred of dignity to leave them in their  little bags along with the wisps of matching thread?

She probably didn't even notice that there is now only one jar for pens, fabric markers, chopsticks [invaluable for poking out corners], small rulers and other such essential gadgetry, whereas, as recently as last week, there were at least four. And how could she know, without trying each one, that all the remaining pens actually work?

The fact that all the spools of 100% cotton thread were on the spool rack, and organized by colour, did not move her, any more than the fact that their wrong-side-of-the-tracks cousins, those no-account cotton polyester blends, were herded together into a spare tin, there being no room at the inn  [or on the spool rack] for the likes of them.........

No. I guess it's going to take more drastic changes for her to acknowledge what a good girl I am. Like getting rid of the chair with the irreparably broken back, which is, nevertheless, earning its keep as a beast of burden, laden down with quilts half-done, a project box, a Bean shirt needing repairs, and several  lengths of flannel, variously intended for pajamas bottoms and baby blankets.

 "What's with the doll cradle?" she might ask.

 To which I might reply "A perfect place to store fat quarters!"

As it is, you'd barely know there was a doll cradle under there.

"And the German sewing basket?"

"I just need to make a nice cushion for the seat and it will be a very useful member of the sewing room team!"  I'd keep to myself the fact that I've "just needed to make a nice cushion for the seat" since I got it, second hand, in Germany back in 1991. Was that really [gasp!] twenty years ago??

The Bean arrived home for the w.e. on Friday night.

"You have to see the progress I've made in the sewing room," I enthused.

He stuck his head around the corner.....

"Looks like you've just moved stuff around," he said with a grin. He likes to mess with my head.

"And what's with the cradle? You're surely not planning.....??."

"It's a doll cradle." Smart ass.

The OC will be home next weekend. Surely he will see what tremendous progress has been made. Although..... maybe not. The Bean did not inherit the smart ass gene from me.

Most obvious of all, I need to organize the fabric stash. Which I have been doing, inch by tortuous inch. One thing I've learned from separating the fabrics into colour groups is that blue, in all its incarnations, is my hands-down favourite colour. As if there had ever been any doubt. But here is the cold, hard evidence......

If you had asked me last week how many pin cushions I had, I would have had to make a wild guess. Now I know that I have seven. I probably don't need another one, so I can scratch off the list whatever tentative plans I had for making one of those extremely cute ones over at Bunny Hill Designs!

 I have to admit to a sneaking suspicion though.

I think creativity thrives more in chaos than in order.......This resolution gets re-incarnated every year...... Maybe it is searching for enlightenment, and when enlightenment strikes I will realize that the quest for order is futile. Because we certainly don't want the flow of ideas to dry up!

Maybe I'll just have to make peace with the chaos!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Words Out Of The Silence..........

 Sunday. A good day to give the flabby blogging muscles an overdue workout. I've been reading here but uninspired to write. I breathe in, I breathe out, but things are quiet, which [lest the gods think I'm looking for some action] is a very good thing!  Sirs, in case you're listening, I'm fine with that---breathing in and breathing out that is. Slowly. No need to get my pulse racing, or my knickers twisted. I will not complain if this turns out to be a very dull year. A person needs a dull year here and there to balance out the others. What some might find dull, for me will be pleasant. Yes, really! Aren't you glad I'm so easy to please? No need to arrange a big lottery win for me; no cruises required; no big birthday bash, though "many years from now" has finally arrived.  I am on the verge of finding the answers to all those perplexing questions---

"Will you still need me?"

"Will you still feed me?"

"Will you lock the door?"

Meantime, while I breathe, slowly, in and out in anticipation ---

"I can knit a sweater by the fireside, Sunday morning go for a ride,"

"........doing the garden, digging the weeds" and keeping the ship afloat, playing in the sewing room, stirring the soup--- "Who could ask for more?"   So, gentlemen, please note----happy as a clam, just the way I am. Save the drama for someone else!

The grass is brown, the trees are bare, the season of cracked fingers is upon us!  There's a cold glitter to the sunshine----a good day to stay warm inside, to write and catch up. Christmas is already a distant memory. We found a beautiful tree this year, even had it up before Christmas Eve---quick, someone! Take her pulse! She's not herself! Of course I didn't take it down until Little Christmas, while neighbours all around dragged theirs' to the curb on St. Steven's Day....Agh! I can't do that. Never understood why Americans are in such a hurry. After Christmas is the best time, when all the fuss and bother is over and you can sit, of an evening, with your cup of tea, in the soft glow of the Christmas tree lights, and let your  mind wander.

I'm not a great shopper so my Christmas shopping was done, to a large extent, on line. And guess who I met?
Santa Claus himself! Disguised as a young man named Jeremy. Having read about Kendamas on another blog I decided to order some for the grandchildren for Christmas, with an extra thrown in for The Bean, who the grandchildren see as one of them anyway, just a whole lot taller. On-line tracking showed they were delivered three days after I placed my order.

 But not to me.

 Several phone calls and e-mails later, I still had not received my package. And time was running out. Kelly, our mail delivery girl, was apologetic, sure she had delivered the package, but unsure if she had put the key in our box. It left me with a sour taste in my mouth that someone mistakenly received a package, with my name and address and didn't think to bring it to me, or at least return it to the Post Office. Oh,oh...Tidings of comfort and joy.

That's when Santa [aka Jeremy at KendamaUSA] rushed gallantly to the rescue and shipped the appropriate number of Kendamas to their various destinations and got them there in time for Christmas! And didn't charge me another penny. And was so polite and friendly throughout. A scholar and a gentleman---  His mother should be proud!!

One of the nice things about Christmas in Florida is that it's warm enough to barbecue. The OC outdid himself this year and grilled the most delicious roast beef ever. The Prince of Carpathia joined us, along with my sainted sister-in-law. The Girlfriend "took one for the team" as the Bean put it, listening with limpid eyes to the thousandth telling of the threadbare tales......We were sad to have so few of the siblings and co. 'round the table with us but we take what we can get these days....Maybe we'll have better luck next year. We  compensated somewhat by Skyping and phoning points North, South, East and West.

So! Courage my friends! Onward into the New Year,  to face, or embrace whatever it brings.
Happy New Year everyone!