FALL/PRE-WINTER/CHRISTMAS ISSUE - 17th October 2007
By Robert Strybel, "The Polish Answer Man"
POL-AM PRESS PACKAGE
By Robert Strybel
FALL/PRE-WINTER/CHRISTMAS ISSUE - 17th October 2007
1. Polish News Bytes (news briefs of general Polish/Polonian interest)
2. Polonia’s Katyn priest laid to rest in Warsaw
3. Ask Our Man in Warsaw (popular question & answer column)
4. Polish surname corner (3 installments of varying length)
5. Polish Christmas alphabet (pronunciation and definition of Polish holiday concepts)
6. Polish Christmas – antidote to the “Greedfest” (Christmas feature article)
7. Upside-down Christmas tree and opłatek (Christmas feature article)
8. Polish Wigilia treats (Polish Chef column)
The Falcon’s Polish News Bytes
Compiled by Robert Strybel, Our Warsaw Correspondent
Two little-known Shiite terrorist groups have claimed credit for recent attacks on Polish targets in Iraq, including one that killed a Polish secret serviceman and seriously wounded Poland’s ambassador to Iraq. In another incident, two Iraqi pedestrians were killed when a car bomb exploded outside the Polish embassy in Baghdad. “Leave Iraq before you drown in its swamp as Britain did,” a masked terrorist warned in a video shown around the globe. The Polish authorities have said they would not be intimidated into withdrawing their troops from the US-led stabilization operation.
Poland intends to bolster the UN/African Union-led peace operation in Africa’s strife-ridden Sudanese province of Darfur with a token contingent of 146 troops and four civilians. The unit, formed under the EU Armed Forces, will protect UN and civilian staff aiding Sudanese refugees in Chad. The operation involves 26,000 peace-keepers made up mainly of Africans. A nearly 1,000-strong Polish force is stationed in Iraq, with another 1,200 soldiers in Afghanistan.
Russia will extend its ban on Polish meat to include dairy products, a spokesman for that country’s animal and health-inspection agency, Sergei Dankvert, indicated recently. Starting in November, only products from dairy plants certified by Russian veterinary inspectors will be allowed into Russia. The Kremlin insists the move is dictated by health concerns, but Poles believe it to be a political rebuff to Polish support for Ukraine’s pro-democracy movement and other policies not to Moscow’s liking.
158 Polish tourists returning to Poland from Egypt miraculously survived an emergency landing in the Turkish capital of Istanbul after their plane’s electrical system failed, immobilizing its lighting, air-conditioning and landing gear. Only five passengers suffered minor bruises during the bumpy landing, and all were led out to safety after a fire broke out on board. Eleven of the survivors refused to board another plane and demanded a special bus to take them back to Poland.
Poland was accused of “imperialism” by a leading Lithuanian historian in an article published by the daily “Lietuvos Rytas” during Polish President Lech Kaczynski’s recent visit to that country. Prof. Alfredas Bumblauskas charged that Poland had bullied Lithuania over the two countries’ 1596 merger the 1791 May 3rd Constitution. Bumblauskas said “traditional Polish haughtiness” had prevented the planned signing of a bilateral atomic-energy treaty.
More than 60 excommunicated ex-nuns of the Sisters of Bethany were peacefully evicted by police from the convent in eastern Poland they had been illegally occupying for two years. The nuns had defied the Vatican by rallying round their deposed Mother Superior Jadwiga Ligocka, widely suspected of creating a sect-like community. Police held Ligocka and defrocked Franciscan monk Roman Komaryczko for questioning on the possible use of psychotropic drugs to enforce blind obedience.
Borderless travel in Europe is likely before Christmas, as Poland joins the European Union’s Schengen zone. Schengen is a small town in Luxembourg where a treaty to end internal border checkpoints was signed in 1985. Officially, Poland will enter the zone on January 1st, but efforts have been made to lift border-crossing check earlier, enabling people to freely visit relatives and friends throughout the EU for Christmas without border controls.
Martial-law baby-boomers are getting married in record numbers, at least temporarily reversing a depopulation trend that has plagued Poland after it dumped communism in 1989. This year some 260,000 Poles are excepted to say “I do” – 30,000 more than in 2006, which was also a good year for marriages. Conjugal activity soared during the bleak, record-cold martial-law winter of 1981-1982, when public entertainment was banned, TV offered little more than military propaganda and a curfew was in force.
Poland’s pro-World’s Fair campaign has been launched on CNN to promote the southwestern city of Wrocław as the site for Expo 2012. The campaign entails 300 half-minute TV spots, 77 of them at prime time, touting Poland as a land of dynamic economic growth as well as a great tourist destination. Also competing to host the 2012 fair, whose theme is “fruitful leisure time”, is the Moroccan city of Tangiers and the South Korean city of Yeosu.
Polonian activists continue to be harassed by the regime of Aleksandr Luakshenka in the post-soviet republic of Belarus east of Poland. Polish-Belarussian journalist Igor Banker was jailed for 10 days in jail and Angelica Borys, the head of the Union of Poles in Belarus, was fined 460,000 rubles for swearing at policemen. The Lukashenka regime, which put is own backers in the Polonian organization, claims the group led by Borys is illegal.
A stray training missile landed recently landed in the northwestern village of Rzecz, some 30 miles off target. No-one was hurt, but the explosion, heard for miles around, shattered windows in nearby homes. The remaining 22 plane-launched, laser-guided missiles struck their intended target on the military firing range in Drawsko Pomorskie. At a loss to explain the freak occurrence, Polish military officials are investigating to see whether a technical defect or human error were responsible.
The posthumous decoration of Wilhelm Hosenfeld with Commodore’s Cross of Polonia Restituta has triggered protests by Jewish and Polish veterans’ groups. Hosenfeld, a German counter-intelligence officer and Nazi party member, brought food to composer Władysław Szpilman hiding in the ruins of bombed-out Warsaw–an episode memorialized in Roman Polański’s film “The Pianist”. But Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Institute has refused to grant him the Righteous Gentile award, arguing there is inadequate proof of his heroism.
Magda Pniewska, a Polish nurse’s aide working in one of England’s nursing homes, was gunned down when she got caught in the crossfire of rival drug gangs fighting it out on the streets of Liverpool. The final moments of life were heard by her sister in Poland who was chatting over a mobile phone when Magda, 26, was struck in the head by a stray bullet. Pniewska had been working in Britain for the past four years.
Polish environmental physicist Professor Lidia Morawska has just completed a startling study into the potential effects of laser printers on respiratory health. A team of researchers at Australia’s Queensland University of Technology, led by Professor Morawska, tested the particle emissions from the toner cartridges of 62 laser printer models, of which 17 were found to be potentially dangerous high particle emitters. The effects could range for respiratory irritation to cardiovascular problems or cancer. Further research is needed to confirm the results.
Polish healthcare is 27th in Europe, outdistancing only Bulgaria and Latvia. According to the Euro Health Consumer Index, things have further deteriorated since 2006, when Poland was in 21st place, ahead of the Czech Republic, Ireland, Lithuania and Slovakia. Antiquated infrastructure, excessive bureaucracy, healthcare strikes and an exodus of medical specialists to the West have all exacerbated the problem. Europe’s health-care frontrunners are: Austria, Holland, France, Switzerland and Germany.
A German property claim, filed by Agnes Trawny, was been rejected by the Olsztyn District
Court on grounds that it fell under the statute of limitations. Trawny had demanded nearly $1 million for the 150-acre farm she left behind when emigrating to Germany in 1977. After her departure, the land became state property. In 2005, Trawny succeeded in reclaiming title to the farmhouse itself. German property claims have long strained Poland’s relations with its western neighbor, although Germany does not officially support its citizens in such matters.
Poles have again been excluded from competing in the US Visa Lottery which is held to correct America’s nationality imbalance, caused by an excessive Hispanic and Asian influx. The reason was that too many Poles were allowed to get permanent residence in the US in recent years. According to the authorities organizing the lottery, to be eligible to participate, a given country cannot be awarded more than 50,000 Green Cards over the past five-year period.
58% of Poles have no savings whatsoever, according to a study carried out by the PBS DGA Research Institute and cited by the Polish legal journal Gazeta Prawna. But that is a slight improvement over 2006, when 64% had no savings. The majority of those who do have savings tend to deposit their money in current bank accounts, and only four percent say they prefer investment funds.
Poland’s most experienced volunteer helping ex-convicts is undoubtedly Janusz Dobrowolski. Unlike well-meaning humanitarians and textbook-trained social workers, he has had plenty of hands-on experience in the US where he was convicted of multiple car thefts, drug offenses and other misconduct for which he spent a total of 15 years behind bars. “I had plenty of time to think things over. When I returned to Poland I found that my family life had collapsed, so I decided to help others in the same boat,” Dobrowolski told reporters.
WARSAW–Few people get such a send-off, but no-one was more deserving of it than one of Polonia’s best-known clergymen, Monsignor Zdzislaw Peszkowski. A native of Sanok, Poland, Peszkowski attended the Cavalry Academy in Grudziadz, served as a cavalryman in the September 1939 campaign against Hitler’s Germany, only to fall into Soviet captivity. But he miraculously survived Russia’s attempted genocide, went on to become a priest, educated several generations of young Polish Americans at Orchard Lake, and, after retiring, went on to successfully challenge the Kremlin over the Katyn massacre.
Polonia’s Katyn priest laid to rest in Warsaw
By Robert Strybel, Our Warsaw Correspondent
Father Peszkowski, who passed away at the age of 89 at the Cardiologcal Clinic in the Warsaw suburb of Anin on October 8th, was truly given the hero’s funeral he so richly deserved. Warsaw’s St. John the Baptist Cathedral was full to overflowing with grateful members of the Katyń Families, people who had lost their loved ones in what the Polonian priest called “the Golgotha of the East”. Father Peszkowski’s unbridled determination and enthusiasm was what largely led to the creation of proper military cemeteries in Katyn, Mednoye and Kharkiv, the Soviet murder sites, where most of his 22,000 comrades in arms had perished in 1940 with a bullet to the back of the head.
Among the mourners were Poland’s bishops, Polish President Lech Kaczynski and the last London émigré president Ryszard Kaczorowski, members of parliament, Polish-American representatives including Orchard Lake Schools Chancellor Father Timothy Whelan, numerous, priests and nuns, war veterans and senior scouts (Father Peszkowski was Scoutmaster General to Harcerstwo [Polish scouts] abroad). Many ordinary Warsovians, who had heard about his unique contributions, also came to pay their respects. A large TV screen was positioned outside the cathedral so the overflow crowd could follow the proceedings.
In his sermon, read out by an auxiliary bishop, due to a vocal indisposition, Primate Józef Glemp said Father Peszkowski’s rich and varied life could easily have filled the biographies of several people. He presented its successive stages and emphasized the fact that the late monsignor had “always and everywhere” fought for Polish causes. But he is best remembered for his untiring struggle to uncover and propagate the truth about Katyn, memorialize its victims and console their descendants.
Elements of military ritual enriched the funeral mass. A military, police, veteran and scout honor guard surrounded the golden-oak coffin, on whose lid were placed a priestly missal, chalice and stole. The Gospel and Elevation of the Blessed Sacrament were signaled by bugle calls, and military color guards were plainly in evidence around the chancel. The funeral cortège was led by six mounted cavalrymen, uniformed and armed with sabers and lances as Cadet Sergeant Peszkowski had when riding off to war in 1939. A seventh riderless steed was led by a cavalrymen on foot, its empty saddle symbolizing the fallen horseman.
After leading the cortège through the cobbled streets of Warsaw’s picturesque Old Town to the Field Cathedral of Polands’ Military Chaplaincy, the mounted escort handed the honors over to nearly 200 Katyn Rally bikers. The spectacular roaring motorcycle escort was quite a sight to the Warsovian onlookers along the way. The procession led across the city to the southern suburb of Wilanów, site of the Church of Divine Providence, originally to have been built in the late 18th century in thanksgiving for the Third of May Constitution. It was only after Poland dumped communism in 1989 that Primate Glemp revived the project, but a lack of funds and opposition from the post-communists have stalled the construction.
Although Father Peszkowski had frequently expressed the wish to be buried with his fallen comrades-in-arms at Katyń, he was laid to rest in the Crypts of Deserving Poles of the partially built basilica. Only temporarily? Warsaw Archbishop Kazimierz Nycz has hinted that at some future date, perhaps when Polish-Russian relations are less strained, some way of fulfilling the monsignor’s last will may be found.
Ask Our Man in WarsawKINDLY SEND ALL POLISH-RELATED QUERIES TO:
ul. Kaniowska 24
01-529 Warsaw, Poland
or e-mail: email@example.com
Q: Are you aware of any Polish-themed, especially religious, clip-art being available anywhere, like the Internet?
DON SAMULL, Dearborn. MI; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
A: Unfortunately, the amount of clipart related to Poland and things Polish I was able to find on the net was extremely sparse. A few Polish flags and maps are shown at: www.fotosearch.com/clip-art/poland.html, and papal (John Paul II and Benedict XVI) clipart can be seen at http://dir.coolclips.com/Greeting_Cards/Religious_Images/Christian/Popes/. For Catholic-flavored images, which however are not specifically Polish, you can visit www.twoheartsdesign.com/clipart.html, and www.stnicholascenter.org/Brix?pageID=121 provides a variety of Swiety Mikolaj (St. Nicholas) imagery. Depictions of Polish eagles of different epochs may be seen at www.akromer.republika.pl/orzel.html, and portraits of Poland’s kings are presented at www.malarze.pawlik.dmkhost.net. In general, a better selection of classic clipart is available for tiny Ireland (population only four million) and Holland (16 million people) than for Poland (population 38 million). If anyone is interested in setting up a Polish-themed clipart site, I have numerous ideas on the subject.
Q: Would you know of any Polish Dance Schools in the Phoenix, Arizona area? Thanks. ARLENE, e-mail: email@example.com
A: I was unable to find any such school listed anywhere, so I suggest you contact those in the know directly: Mr. Bogumił Horchem, President, Polish-American Congress of Arizona, 2828 W. Country Gables Drive, Phoenix, AZ 85053; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Q: Would you know how I could acquire a Polish Battle Ensign, the kind that flies atop the Hotel Sobieski in Warsaw? It is white and red like the Polish flag but with an offset red and white cross at the center? I would like to fly it at our annual Pulaski Parade here in Grand Rapids. Thanks very much for any help or advice!
JEFF PORTKO, Grand Rapids, MI; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
A: I was told by an expert at the Polish Army Museum that the flag being flown above the Hotel Sobieski is a Hussar ensign like those displayed on the lances of the Hussars fighting under Poland’s King Jan Sobieski at the gates of Vienna. Such a flag measuring 160x90 cm would cost about 130-140 zlotys. Naturally mailing would be extra. For this and other flags, banners and ensigns contact: Artykuly Propagandowe, ul. Okopowa 25, rog Żytniej 32, 01-059 Warszawa; tel. (48 22) 632-1059, tel/fax (48 22) 631-0357: e-mail: email@example.com; www.okopowaflagi.pl/page/pl/oferta/az/
Q: I am trying to assist a group of elderly Poles, who do not speak English, in attending to inheritances in the USA. How could I get in touch with a good Polish-speaking American lawyer?
IWONA DAKINIEWICZ, ul. Sadowa 24, 99-235 Peczniew, Popow, Poland; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org,.pl
A: I suggest you try contacting the Polish-American lawyers association:
Advocates Society, P.O. Box 641883, Chicago, IL 60664-1883; www.advocatesociety.com;
Tel. (312) 726-4408; fax: (312) 419-6562; Contact person: Robert M. Zelek.
Q: I’m doing a presentation for a class on Polish food and was wondering tell me if there are dishes that are more popular in some regions than others, for example, northern versus southern Poland? I am also wondering what the more popular or
well known vodkas or liquors are.
CAITLIN MARIE EPLEY, e-mail:email@example.com
A: Polish regional cuisine has developed according to local climate, soil conditions and tradition as well as under the influence of the three partitioning powers–Russia, Prussia and Austria–which carved up and occupied Poland from the late 18th century until 1918. In rough general terms, the River Vistula divides the country in half into an eastern tea-drinking and buckwheat groat-eating area and a western coffee-drinking and potato-eating one. Biały barszcz (a tart creamed soup) is more typical of the east and żurek (a usually uncreamed tart ryemeal soup) is more common in central and western Poland. Although salt herring have long been sent all over the country, fresh herring and other sea fish were the most prominent along the Baltic coast, and the poor, hard-scrabble mountain areas were known for oat breads and dumplings as well as sheep cheese (oscypek and bryndza). Pierogi are enjoyed all over the country but the Podlasie region of NE Poland specializes in lentil-filled pierogi. Meat-filled pierogi are a favorite of those with urban roots, while vegetarian ones are more typical of the countryside. Seasoning kiełbasa with marjoram is typical of the western Poland’s Wielkopolski (Poznan) region, and juniper is added to hunter’s sausage made with game such as boar or deer. Roladki z modrą kapusta (beef roll-ups with red cabbage) are a favorite in the southern region of Śląsk (Silesia). Jellied pigs’ feet are enjoyed everywhere but go under different names such as zimne nogi, galareta z nozek and studzienina. Clear vodkas and flavored ones are the tipples of choice. The latter include żoladkowa gorzka (vodka with stomach bitters – said to be good for what ails you!), wisniowka (cherry cordial), winiak (wine-barrel brandy) and jalowcowka (gin-like juniper vodka). Żubrowka (bison vodka) comes from the Białowieża area of eastern Poland, and each bottle contains a strand of bison grass. One of the best-known regional tipples is Łącka Sliwowica, a super-potent, 160 proof, golden-tinged plum brandy, produced only in southern Poland’s Lacko area. It would take a book to even scratch the surface of Polish regional cookery, so these few facts are merely to pique your interest and whet your appetite.
Q: I have a recipe to make my own opłatki. Do you have any idea where I can find a mold?
CAROLE GOFF, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
A: The following party in Poland is advertising new, never used opłatki molds:
Ireneusz Labus, ul. Porębska 32, 42-400 Zawiercie, Poland; e-mail: email@example.com
Q: Does Poland have a central records office anywhere, where I can go for information as birth, marriages, and death records? If yes, where is it? And how do I request any inforration? Does the request have to be in Polish?
MICHAEL DĄBROWSKI, Valparaiso, IN; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
A: Poland has not one, but two main repositories of public records. They are the Main Old Records Archives containing public records, documents and other archival materials from before 1918, when Poland regained its independence after 123 years of foreign occupation. The New Records Archives contains materials from 1918 on.
Archiwum Glowne Akt Dawnych, ul. Dluga 7, 00-263 Warsaw, Poland; tel. (+ 48 22) 831-54-91>93, fax: (+ 48 22) 831-16-08; e-mail: email@example.com; www: www.agad.archiwa.gov.pl
Archiwum Akt Nowych, ul. Hankiewicza 1, 02-103 Warsaw, Poland; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; tel: (+48 22) 822-52-45, fax: (+48 22) 823-00-42. The best way to request information is by e-mail, fax or airmail, since they can always find someone who reads English.
Q: I Would love to know the symbolic meaning of a bombka at Christmas. I understand it is an ornament, however, I don’t know what it is. Can you help me?
CHRISTINE LAPRADE, Account Manager, RCN Business Solutions; tel. (508) 405-4019; e-mail: Christine.LaPrade@rcn.net
A: The Polish word “bombka” is the diminutive of “bomba” which may mean a bomb as well as a large stein of beer. As you probably know, a diminutive is a grammatical form that makes something sound smaller, cuter or daintier than the original. We also have diminutives in English including Tommy (an endearing form of Thomas), doggie (a nice little dog), superette (a down-sized super market), etc. In this case, “bombka” would facetiously mean a little bomb, but the name has also become the generic term for a globe-type, hand-blown glass Christmas-tree ornaments. The identify of whoever coined it is buried in time, but the obvious analogy was to the similar spherical shape of an old-style bombs with a hissing fuse that cartoonists would show black-clad anarchists hiding behind their backs. There is no ritual or symbolic significance to the bombka, as far as I know. It is simply a beautiful, hand-crafted tree ornament whose creation Polish glass-blowers have turned into a speciality, appreciated by customers far and wide.
Q: Would you have a good recipe for Żurek Staropolski in English?
DAVID PIEKARCZYK, currently of Poznan, Poland; e-mail: email@example.com
A: Soak 1 dried bolete mushroom in 1 c water several hrs and cook 1 hr or until tender. Dice and set aside in mushroom liquid. In soup pot combine 4 c water, 3/4 - 1 c diced slab bacon and smoked Polish sausage or ham in whatever proportions you want, 1 bay leaf and 1 quartered onion and cook covered at low boil 1 hr. Add the mushrooms and their liquid, 1 - 1.5 c sour-rye liquid (żurek - available in bottles at Polish delis and groceries) and 1 T flour dissolved in 1/2 c water and simmer several minutes longer. Add 1 bud crushed garlic* and season with salt, pepper and marjoram. Serve over sliced hard-cooked eggs. In the Krakow area, the żur is served with a side dish of hot mashed potatoes garnished with skwarki (crunchy fried pork fatback nuggets). Otherwise serve with rye bread. NOTE: An easier way is to substitute 1/8 or 1/4 of a mushroom bouillon cube dissolved in 1 c water for the dried mushrooms and some garlic powder.
Q: I heard having Polish citizenship is needed to set up a business and buy property in Poland and throughout the European Union. Although my folks were born here in Buffalo, all four of my grandparents came from Poland, so do I qualify? Who in Poland should I approach about this?
ED S. (surname and contact data withheld on request), Buffalo, NY
A: Yes, with Polish citizenship you will be able to freely travel, go into business and buy real estate throughout the EU, and being of Polish ancestry is definitely an advantage when applying for it. However, you need not look for anyone in Poland to contact, as such matters are handled by your nearest Polish Consulate (in your case that in NYC) which will inform you of the required application procedures. Good luck!
Q: I am trying to do a genealogy of my father’s family, the Kajtanowskis, who came from the village of Zdziechowa in the county of Gniezno. They arrived in America in 1881. Could you tell me if there is a town hall or county office where I could find their birth and death records?
MARILYN PAWLAK, 6738 Hamilton Drive, Derby, NY 14047
A: I was informed by the “Dział Ewidencji Ludnosci” (population records department) of the Gniezno municipal authorities, under whose jurisdiction the village of Zdziechowa falls, that no Kajtanowskis live at present in Zdziechowa nor anywhere else in the Gniezno community. There are some Kajtanowskis, however, living in other communities in the general area of what was once (until 1918) the Grand Duchy of Poznan, ruled by Prussia (Germany). Records going back as far as the birth of your ancestors relatives in the 19th century are stored at the Main Old Records Archives (Archiwum Glowne Akt Dawnych) – see the reply to the preceding question. Some parishes also have family records in their possession, and the Archives should be able to inform you whether they, a parish or other repository (such as regional archives) have the records you are interested in. Of course, you should be aware of the fact that various uprisings, two world wars and the Soviet invasion of 1920 all took their toll of Poland’s public documents.
Q: My grandfather used to say and I remember you writing in one of your columns what the longest word in the Polish language is. It sounds something like “cosmopolitan.” No street address please.
CHRISTINE KOWALCZYK, Brooklyn, NY
A: The word is “konstantynopolitanczykowianeczka” which was to have meant the unmarried daughter of a resident of Constantinople (now Istanbul). This appears to be a word that was never in common use but was created simply to set a length record.
Q: I have been a member of the Polish Falcons Nest 907 for many years. You had a recipe for Plum Cake in the Polish Falcon newspaper, but I must have misplaced it. My late mother used to make a cake just like it. Could you please run the recipe?
JUDITH S. CUDECKI, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A: I don't know if it’ll be anything like what your late mother used to bake, but here goes anyway. Cream 1/2 lb butter or margarine with 1 c sugar until smooth and fluffy. Beating the whole time, gradually add 3 egg yolks, 2 c flour, 1 t baking powder, 3 T sour cream and 1/2 t vanilla extract. Fold in 3 stiffly beaten egg whites. Transfer mixture to baking pan. On top place 1-1/2 lbs pitted firm Italian plums (wegierki in Polish) cut-side-up, reserving about 1/4 of them. Cut the reserved plum halves into 4 pieces each and insert those pieces in the empty spaces between the halves. (These should sink to the bottom so you will have plums throughout the cake, not just on top. Bake at 360 degrees about 1 hour. Dust with confectioner's sugar after removing from oven. When cooled, cut into squares and enjoy.
CORRECTION: The following question and answer went out with a nasty typo which mistakenly gave the inquiring party’s name as LOGONOWSKI. It should have been OGONOWSKI. Here is a repeat of the Q&A incorporating the correction:
Q: Could you please recommend any dealer that deals in silver? Being very Catholic, I am looking for a silver cross or perhaps some John Paul II stuff.
LEONARD OGONOWSKI, e-mail: LennyO@webtv.net
A: You can try the Argentum Company in Plock (west of Warsaw) that will create whatever you want in silver according to your preference and design. It is run by the Brothers Stachurski. The e-mail is: email@example.com and their commercial dept can communicate with you in English. The postal address is: Argentum Biżuteria, Nowy Rynek 11, 09-400 Plock, Poland; tel. 00 48-24 277-2943; fax: 00 48-24 277-1831; web site: http://www.argentum.pl/main_content.html.
What’s in a (Polish) name?Jankowski & Jasiak = Johnson
A great many Polish and other last names are called patronymics, because they are derived from a father’s first name. In English these would include Johnson (“John’s son”), Johns, Johnson, Johnston and Jackson (since Jack can be an endearing form of John). If we include German and Scandinavian variants, we also get Johannsohn, Johannsen and Hansen. Polish John (Jan)-related equivalents include: Janas, Janczak, Janda, Janecki, Janiec, Janiszewski, Jankowiak, Janowicz, Januzewski, Januszkiewicz, Jasiak and Jaśkowiak. The No. 1 Jan-derived surname is Jankowski (shared by more than 65,000 Poles).
For a custom-researched anaylsis of what your Polish surname means, how many people share it, where they live and whether a coat of arms goes with it, please airmail of $19 check (adding $10 for each additional surname) to:
ul. Kaniowska 24
01-529 Warsaw, Poland
Also included is a packet of genealogical leads (Web sites and other contact data of genealogical firms, organizations and researchers) that many Polish-American root-tracers have found quite helpful.
Where did your Polish name come from?
If it’s Wojcik, someone once pegged your distant ancestor as “the village mayor’s kid”, Zielinski was the guy from Zieleniec (Greenville) and Kowal was the local blacksmith.
For a custom-researched analysis of the meaning and derivation of YOUR POLISH SURNAME, how many people share it, where they live and whether the name is accompanied by a noble coat-of-arms, please airmail a $19 check (adding $10 for each additional surname) to:
Ulica Kaniowska 24
01-529 Warsaw, Poland
Also included is a contact sheet of helpful genealogical sites and root-tracing firms to facilitate any ancestral exploration you decide to pursue.
What does your Polish name mean?
For a custom-researched analysis of your Polish last name, what it means, how many people use it, where they live and whether a coat-of-arms goes with it, please airmail a $19 check (adding $10 for each additional surname) to:
Ulica Kaniowska 24
01-529 Warsaw, Poland
Pronouncing the Polish Christmas alphabetOur Polish Christmas heritage is exceptionally rich in lore, tradition, folkways and foodways. Today we will highlight some of its major components in an alphabetical listing which may help clear up certain misgivings and put things into sharper focus. It may also help you brush up on some of the Polish Christmas terminology that may have drifted away over the years. A pronunciation guide has been included for those whose Polish over time has grown rusty or is non-existent. NOTE: This listing may prove useful when planning Polish-American Christmas-themed activities such as workshops, craft fairs, holiday bazaars, nativity plays, club suppers and parish events. It could be the ideal basis of a Christmas quiz. No permission is required to reprint this compendium in Polish Saturday School or other course materials, printed programs, parish bulletins, club newsletters or wherever. The point is to spread the good word as far and wide as possible!
by Robert Strybel, Polish/Polonian Affairs Writer
ADVENT: Pronounced: “AHD-vent”, Advent, the nearly four-week period of spiritual preparation for Christmas. It is the time to build a Christmas crib, welcome Święty Mikolaj, prepare home-made tree ornaments, light successive candles of the Advent Wreath, pray and mediate a bit more and think of the needy.
ANIOL: Pronounced: “AH-nyo”, the Polish word for angel, a figure who recurs throughout the season in Christmas carols, nativity plays and holiday decorations.
ANIOLEK: Pronounced: “ah-NYO-wek”, diminutive of “aniol” meaning little angel, the Christmas Eve gift-giver in some parts of Poland, St. Nick’s helper in others and a favorite Christmas tree peak ornament.
BARSZCZ: Pronounced: “barshch”, a clear beetroot soup made with vegetable and mushrooms stock usually including “uszka” (bite-sized mushroom-filled dumplings), traditionally served at the Wigilia supper.
BIGOS: Pronounced: “BEE-gus”, often referred to in English as “Polish hunter’s stew”, this all-time favorite ragoût contains sauerkraut and/or cabbage, mushrooms, different kinds of meat and sausage, all slowly simmered for hours. With the exception of meatless Wigilia, this is a favorite throughout the long season of holiday entertaining.
BOZE NARODZENIE: Pronounced: “BAW-zheh nah-raw-DZEH-nyeh”, literally God’s birth or divine birth, this is the standard Polish word for Chrstimas.
CHOINKA: Pronounced: “haw-EEN-kah”, this can be any evergreen in general or a Christmas tree. The fir and spruce are preferred in Polish Christmas tradition. It is set up and trimmed on Dec. 24 and kept up till at least Jan. 6 or even Feb 2.
CHOINKA: Pronounced “haw-EEN-kah”; a secondary meaning of “choinka” is a Christmas party, not on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, usually organized for community residents, club members, employees and their families, etc.
DRZEWKO: Pronounced: “JEFF-kaw” literally means “little tree” and is the common term for Christmas tree in southern Poland.
GES PIECZONA: Pronounced: “GHENSH pyeh-CHAW-nah”, except for meatless Wigilia, roast goose was once a Christmas-New Year’s mainstay, but has largely been replaced by turkey. Poland remains Europe’s top goose producer, but most are exported to Germany.
GODNE SWIETA: Pronounced: “GAWD-neh SHFYEN-tah”, an old-fashion name for Christmas, especially the entire 12 days from Christmas Eve till the Three Kings.
GODY: Pronounced: “GAW-dih”, same as “Godne Swieta”; apart from Christmas, the term “Gody” has also been applied to other festive celebrations, e.g. “Zlote Gody” = Golden Wedding Anniversary.
GRZANIEC: Pronounced: “GZHAH-nyets”, hot mulled wine served to guests over Christmas and throughout the winter months.
GWIAZDA BETLEJEMSKA: Pronounced: “GVYAHZ-dah bet-lay-EM-skah, the Star of Bethlehem, a name also given to the poinsettia (red Christmas flower).
GWIAZDA KOLEDNICZA: Pronounced: “GVYAHZ-dah kaw-lend-NEE-chah”, literally caroler’s star, a large paper star, mounted on a pole, often with internal illumination, and carried by traditional caroling parties.
GWIAZDKA: Pronounced: “GVYAST-kah”, diminutive of “gwiazda”, literally meaning little star, one of the names of Christmas in Polish.
GWIAZDOR: Pronounced: “GVYAZ-dor”, the name of the Christmas gift-giver especially in the western region of Wielkopolska, patterned on Germany’s Weihnachtsmann, a secularized Father Christmas.
HERODY: Pronounced: “heh-RAW-dih”, a humorous Christmas skit which shows the Devil and Grim Reaper and Devil arguing over King Herod’s soul; often part of the routine re-enacted by house-to-house carolers.
JASELKA: Pronounced: “yah-SEW-kah”, nativity play, usually staged by children who re-enact the story of shepherds going to Bethlehem to honor Baby Jesus.
JEDLINA: Pronounced: “yed-LEE-nah”, natural evergreen branches, tucked behind pictures and mirrors, displayed in vases and elsewhere permeates the home with a genuine Christmassy scent.
KAPUSTA Z GROCHEM: Pronounced: “kah-POOSS-tah z GRAW-hem”, stewed, meatless sauerkraut with whole yellow peas or other dried, cooked legumes, usually including some mushrooms – a typical Wigilia dish.
KAPUSTA Z GRZYBAMI: Pronounced: “kah-POOSS-tah z ghzih-BAH-mee”, stewed, meatless sauerkraut with mushrooms, preferably rehydrated dried boletes – a typical Wigilia dish.
KIERMASZ SWIATECZNY: Pronounced: “KYER-mahsh shfyun-TECH-nih”, holiday bazaar or Christmas fair, often a fund-raiser featuring assorted Yuletide goods and treats.
KLUSKI Z MAKIEM: Pronounced: “KLOOSS-kee z MAK-kyem”, noodles and poppyseeds – a typical sweet dish of the Wigilia supper. ”
KOLEDA: Pronounced: “kaw-LEN-dah”, Christmas carol, traditional songs honoring the nativity, populated by angels, shepherds and their flocks as well as the Three Kings, with the Holy Family as their centerpiece.
KOLEDNIK: Pronounced “kaw-LEND-neek, caroler; traditionally a caroler-masquerader dressed as a shepherd, King Herod, Death, Devil, Angel, Gypsy, Soldier, etc., forming part of a caroling party making house-to-house rounds.
KROKIETY: Pronounced: “kraw-KETT-ih”, croquettes – crêpes (nalsniki), filled with stewed sauerkraut & mushrooms or other meatless filling, rolled up, breaded, fried and served in some families with clear Christmas Eve beetroot barszcz.
KRUPNIK: This culinary term has two different meanings 1) vegetable-barley soup, and (at Christmas time) 2) a honey-spice cordial served hot in shot or cordial glasses.
KULIG: Pronounced: “KOO-leek”, sleighing party with torch-lit horse-.drawn sleighs and musicians for entertainment.
KUTIA, KUCJA: Pronounced: “KOOT-yah, KOOTS-yah”, a traditional sweet Wigilia dish, made of cooked wheat or other grain, poppyseeds, honey, nuts, etc., especially in eastern Poland.
MAKOWIEC: Pronounced: “mah-KAW-vyets”, poppyseed roll cake, a typical Polish Christmas cake; also known as “makownik” and “strucla z makiem”.
MATKI BOSKIEJ GROMNICZNEJ: Pronounced: “MAHT-kee BUSS-kay grum-NEECH-nay”, Candlemas, literally: Our Lady of the Death Candle (Feb. 2), the day candles are blessed in chruch marks the official end of the Polish Christmas season.
MIKOLAJKI: Pronounced: “mee-kaw-WHY-kee”, St. Nicholas celebration, at which youngsters gather to welcome Swiety Mikolaj (see below).
NOWY ROK: Pronounced: NAW-vih RAWK”, New Year’s Day, Jan. 1, a time for visiting, feasting and celebrating.
OPLATEK: Pronounced: “aw-PWAH-tek”, this white unleavened wafer, imprinted with nativity motifs, is sometimes referred to as “angel bread” or “the bread of love”. The single most important artifact of Polish-style Christmas, it is traditionally it is broken and shared at the start of the Wigilia supper.
OPLATEK: Pronounced: “aw-PWAH-tek”, this is also the name of a Christmas get-together which involves breaking and sharing opłatek at church, work or some organization. Often carols are sung and light refreshments may be served, but usually not a full meal.
PAJAK: Pronounced: “PAH-yunk”, literally spider, but in Christmas usage a mobile-type folk decoration made of opLatek, paper, straw, feathers, etc. suspended from the ceiling; also strings of dried white peas, draped to resemble strings of pearls.
PASTERKA: Pronounced: “pah-STAIR-kah”, Shepherd’s Mass celebrated at midnight on Christmas Eve.
PIERNIK: Pronounced: “PIERRE-neek”, honey-spice cake, Polish gingerbread, one of Poland’s typical Christmas cakes.
PIEROGI: Pronounced: “pierre-UGH-ee”, filled dough pockets or dumplings, whose meatless versions are a typical Wigilia dish.
PODLAZNICZKA: Pronounced: “pud-wazh-NEECH-kah”, an evergreen bough or tree-top, trimmed with hand-made ornaments, sweets and nuts, suspended from the ceiling over the table; a predecessor of the Christmas tree.
RYBA: Pronounced: “RIB-ah”, fish, a Wigilia culinary mainstay including herring, fresh-water and sea species, fried, baked, poached and in aspic.
SAD: Pronounced: “SAHD”, this is the name given to the podłaźniczka in the Tatra Mountains and elsewhere in southern Poland.
SIANO: Pronounced: “SHAH-naw”, hay, a symbol of Christ’s humble birth in a stable, is strewn on the table beneath the table-cloth and forms a bed on the plate or tray containing the opłatek.
SLOMA: Pronounced: “SWAW-mah”, straw, in olden times strewn about the floor of peasant cottages on Wigilia and tied round table legs to commemorate the Nativity.
SYLWESTRA: Pronounced: “sil-VESS-trah”, the Polish name fro New Year’s Eve recalls the name of St. Sylvester, whose feastday is celebrated on Dec. 31st.
SZOPKA: Pronounced: “SHAWP-ah”, Christmas crib, Nativity set, sometimes a portable puppet theater carried by carolers house-to-house “SHAWP-kah”,
SZOPKA KRAKOWSKA: Pronounced: “SHAWP-kah krah-KUSS-kah”, Kraków-style Christmas crib, fashioned from thin strips of wood, cardboard and shimmering colored foil into an urban folk-art work of true beauty.
SLEDZIE: Pronounced: “SHLEDGE-eh”, herring, one of the culinary “musts” on the Wigilia table served pickled, creamed, in oil, in salads, etc.
SWIETO TRZECH KROLI: Pronounced: “SHFYEN-taw TCHEKH KROO-lee”, literally Feast of the Three Kings, the Epiphany (Jan. 6); chalk is blessed at church with which the formula K+M+B 2008 is inscribed over doorways in honor of the Magi.
SWIETY MIKOLAJ: Pronounced: “SHFYEN-tih mee-KAW-why”, St, Nicholas, the kindly bishop who visits kids on his feastday (Dec. 6), quizzes them on their prayers and good deeds and rewards them with treats and toys.
WIECZERZA WIGILIJNA: Pronounced: “vyeh-CHEH-zhah vee-ghee-LEEY-nah”, Christmas Eve supper, to Poles the single most important family meal of the year.
WIGILIA: Pronounced: “vee-GHEEL-yah”, Christmas Eve, literally: the Vigil, to Poles the single most important day of the year.
WILIA: Pronounced: “VEEL-yah”, an older name for Wigilia (see preceding entry).
ZLOBEK: Pronounced: “ZHWAW-bek”, Christmas crib or Nativity set.
Polish Christmas – an anti-dote to the “ Greedfest”The Yuletide commercialism we see all around us can become rather overpowering at times and make people wonder whether Christmas as we know it today should not be renamed the Greedfest. The sales promoters, of course, are out to rake in as much dough as possible, however all the pro-present propaganda on TV is also turning many children into selfish, greedy brats. But all the commercial hoopla does have one good side to it: it makes people aware of and receptive to Yule-related activities, and that is where Polish-heritage promoters can move in.
By Robert Strybel, Polish/Polonian Affairs Writer
Throughout December schools, libraries, community centers, clubs and other organizations often invite people to come in and describe various Christmas customs, crafts and artifacts. Over the years, I have met numerous people who would give talks on Polish Christmas customs, holding demonstrations and/or set up displays.
Christmas traditions may be shared by means of lectures, illustrated with the actual ritual artifacts and/or pictures, slides, video cassettes, DVDs. Polish-style Christmas cribs, especially the shimmering crèche of Kraków, and the carolers’ star mounted on a pole, are particularly unique and interesting items. The presentation can include a craft demonstration showing how the above items created or, if possible, the appearance of costumed kolędnicy (carolers). A surprise appearance by Święty Mikołaj (Saint Nicholas) always goes over well with young children. In addition to a one-off presentation, another way to popularize our heritage is to set up an exhibition of Polish-style Christmas artifacts, books, recordings, etc. Public libraries often have such exhibits on show in glass display cases before and during the Christmas holidays.
Another way of sharing the Polish Christmas heritage is to include Polish greetings in the Christmas cards you send or e-mail. The most typical Christmas greetings are “Wesołych Świąt Bożego Narodzenia” (literally: Happy Christmas Holidays) and are often shortened to just “Wesołych Świąt”. Either version is suitable for display purposes (banners, posters, greetings in newspapers, bulletins, printed programs), but the shorter form is most common in personal exchanges, when running into friends or neighbors. In greeting cards New Year’s wishes are often added so that the entire greeting runs: “Wesołych Świąt Bożego Narodzenia i Szczęśliwego Nowego Roku!
It is traditional to enclose a piece of opłatek in Christmas cards being sent to people with whom the sender will not be sharing it on Wigilia. Generally, a corner of the opłatek is broken off and consumed by the sender before sealing the envelope, as that symbolizes sharing Christmas wafer over the miles.
Above all else, the most important thing is the household atmosphere generated during the Christmas season. This is especially true in families with small children. What youngsters observe and experience in their earliest years may influence the attitudes they form and the customs they observe in later life.
Rather than everybody off in their own little corner, glued to the TV or computer screen, perhaps those long dark evenings of December could be put to better use. Well-meaning parents often tell their kids to go off an play while tending to all the preparations. themselves. But, if given a chance, youngsters usually want to be a part of things. Even in their earliest years they can be assigned holiday-related tasks. The idea of young children standing in the window and watching for the first star of the evening is an age-old way of keeping them from under foot and away from hot things simmering on the stove, while making them feel useful at the same time.
There are various holiday craft projects, from the simplest paper Christmas-tree chains to an ambitious attempt to re-create a magnificent cathedral-like Krakow crèche. Even the youngest kids can be assigned some food-preparation chore. Another hands-on way of promoting our heritage is to have youngsters set the Wigilia table: hay scattered on the tabletop, a pure white table-cloth, an added place-setting in memory of deceased family member and the snowy-white opłatek in a place of honor on the home’s best china, crystal or silver dish in a bed of hay and evergreens sprigs. And trimming the tree and setting up the Christmas crib are things most youngsters enjoy doing anyway. So what if things end up a bit crooked and less than not picture perfect – it’s the participation that counts.
In between preparations, perhaps babcia can share her childhood memories of Christmas with her grandchildren or tell them of the Old World lore that once surrounded the holidays of our Polish ancestors. So can parents and other relatives as well as friends or neighbors. Those who lack the necessary knowledge would do well to first bone up on it themselves. Books such as “A Polish Christmas Eve” by Father Czelaw Krysa and “Treasured Polish Christmas Customs” by the Polanie Club of Minneapolis are a good place to start. So are such Web sites as:
It is also good to attune our youngsters’ ears to our beautiful Polish koledy by playing them off and on throughout the holiday season. That way they will come to associate them with Christmas. But, of course, that shouldn’t be overdone the way the malls super-saturate shoppers with Jingle Bells and the Roasting Chestnut song. It should be remembered first and foremost that the powers that be have been trying to brain-wash our kids from their youngest days into thinking Christmas is mostly about getting presents.
Parents unwittingly fall into that same trap when they start making a big fuss about shopping for presents, wrapping them, hiding them, sneaking them under the tree and then watching all that fancy, pricey packaging ripped to shreds on Christmas morning. Perhaps our Polish heritage does indeed offer some meaningful alternatives to the loud, glittery, super-commercialized, mall-bought Greedfest!
Upside-down Christmas trees and oplatekThe Christmas tree is said to have originated in Germany, from where it made its way to England and America as well as to Poland and other parts of Europe and eventually spread across the globe. But long before that occurred, in various parts of the sprawling Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, once Europe’s biggest land empire, there already existed something Polish Americans sometimes call an “upside-down Christmas tree”.
By Robert Strybel, Polish/Polonian Affairs Writer
This could be the top of an evergreen, usually a spruce or fir, suspended point down from the rafters, or simply an evergreen branch. These were decorated with edibles (nuts, apples, marzipan, gingerbread treats, etc.) as well as home-made ornaments such as straw stars, opłatek globes and paper chains. In Polish they were most commonly called “podlazniczka” or “podlazniczek”, words that suggest something creeping up under the ceiling. In southern Poland’s Tatra Mountains, these decorated evergreen tops and boughs were called a “sad” (literally: orchard), in the Rzeszow region farther to the east the common term for them was “jutka” and in northern Poland’s forested Mazurian Lake district the local peasantry referred to them as a “jeglijka”.
I have heard from college friends of mine living in the Milwaukee area that their family has revived the upside-down Christmas tree tradition in. In recent years, I have noted this custom being introduced by scattered Polish-American homes, parishes and gift shops. Whether it catches on and takes off is anyone’s guess. One practical consideration in favor of the “podlazniczka” is that it does not take up space in small apartments and other cramped areas. In addition, it cannot be knocked over by small children or pets the way a floor or table-mounted Christmas tree can. But, suspended over the Wigilia table, it provides a very festive accent in addition to filling the home with that nostalgic evergreen scent that no ar5tificla spray-can fragrance can match.
Be all that as it may, but the most Polish and nostalgic of all Christmas customs is the breaking and sharing of opłatek. This white, unleavened Christmas wafer with nativity scenes printed thereon is the single most important ritual artifact of Polish Yuletide. Traditionally the custom marks the start of Christmas Eve supper, the most festive family gathering of the year. Usually the eldest person present–a grandparent or head of the household–begins by breaking of and sharing a bit of the communion-host-like wafer with his spouse or the family hierarchy’s next in line. Each of them then shares oplatek with the remaining family members, and the ritual is concluded only after all have broken “angel bread” with everyone else.
The sharing of oplatek is accompanied by well-wishing which goes beyond “Wesolych Swiat”. Usually the wishes are tailored to the one to whom they are being extended – that person’s situation and needs are taken into account. Oplatek-sharers wish an ailing family member a speedy recovery, a schoolchild – good marks in school, young parents – successful child-rearing, a high-school senior – admission to a good university and so on. A common wish is health and good fortune throughout the coming year or simply the fulfillment of your personal dreams and wishes. God’s special blessings are wished upon those who have lost a loved one or experienced some other tragedy.
It is a tender, nostalgic and often teary moment amid kisses, hugs, warm embraces and fond recollections of Christmases past and the smiling faces of loved ones who will never break oplatek with us again. Other nations have their Yule logs, holly wreaths, mistletoe and that mad rush to the tree on Christmas morning – but none of it can really match the unique beauty and heartfelt emotion generated by our Polish oplatek-sharing tradition.
THE POLISH CHEF firstname.lastname@example.org Polish Wigilia treats
By Robert Strybel
ul. Kaniowska 24, 01-529 Warsaw
PICKLED HERRING, HOME-MADE (sledz marynowany domowy): Soak 1 to 1-1/2 lbs Matyjas* herring fillets (available at Polish delis) in cold water 2 hrs and drain well. In pot combine 13/4 c white vinegar, 3/4 c water, several peppercorns, bay leaf, an allspice grain or 2, 1 t mustard see and 1-3 T sugar. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer covered about 10 min. Set aside to cool to room temp. Cut the herring into bite-size pieces or larger, intersperse in jar with thinly sliced or chopped onion and drench with strained marinade. Seal and refrigerate 2-3 days before serving. Serve with rye bread & butter or hot boiled potatoes.
* Matyjas type herring are lightly salted and to not require a 24-48 hr soaking!
PICKLED HERRING, STORE-BOUGHT (sledz marynownay kupny): Simply buy an 8-oz jar of plain marinated herring (not in wine sauce and not creamed) and serve as is or in any of the herring recipes below. Any of the herring can be served either with hot boiled potatoes or with rye bread.
CREAMED HERRING (sledz w smietanie): ): Soak 1 to 1-1/2 lbs Matyjas herring fillets in cold water 2 hrs and drain well. Cut into bite-size pieces and arrange in serving dish. Coarsely grate 2 peeled, tart apples, sprinkle with juice of 1/2 a lemon so apples do not turn dark. Chop 2 onions fine and mix with apples. Top herring with apple-onion mixture and drench with 1 c sour cream fork-blended with a little sugar, lemon juice, salt & pepper to taste. Optional: Garnish with a little chopped parsley.
HERRING IN OIL (sledz w oleju): Use the home-made pickled herring above or drain one or more jars of pickled herring, discarding onions and spices. Plunge herring into cold water for a min or so and drain well. Transfer to jar, interspersing each layer of herring with a layer of chopped onions. Fill jar with salad oil and refrigerate several hrs or over night. Turn out onto lettuce-lined serving platter with only as much oil as clings to the herring. Top with fresh, fine-chopped onions.
MAZURIAN HERRING SALAD (salatka sledziowa po mazursku): Soak 4 Maytjas herring fillets in cold water 2 hrs. Dry well and dice. Combine in bowl with 1 c drained (uncooked) sauerkraut, 3 med cold, cooked, diced potatoes, a chopped onion. Fork-blend 4 T salad oil with 1 T sharp brown mustard and season with a little sugar and pepper to taste. Pour over salad and toss well.
HERRING-VEGETABLE SALAD (salatka sledziowo-jarzynowa): In salad bowl combine: 1 c diced, drained marinated herring or pre-soaked (for 2 hrs), dried and diced Matyjas herring, 2 chopped dill pickles, 2 chopped onions or 1 bunch chopped green onions, 2 apples, peeled, cored and diced, 1 c drained canned navy beans or pea-beans, 1 c drained canned peas & carrots, 2 c diced cooked potatoes, 1 green or red bell pepper, chopped, and (optional) 1 heaping T capers. Toss gently. Lace with sour cream-mayonnaise sauce: for 1 c fork-blend 1/2 c each sour cream and mayonnaise and season to taste with salt, pepper, lemon juice, brown mustard and (optional) confectioner’s sugar.
MIXED VEGETABLE SALAD (salatka jarzynowa): Omit the herring from the above recipe for a plain vegetable salad.
EASY CLEAR BEETROOT SOUP (latwy czysty czerwony barszcz): In pot combine 3 c beet juice (from canned beets), 2 c apple juice and 1/2 a mushroom cube dissolved in 1 c boiling water. Heat to boiling. Season with salt & pepper, a dash of garlic powder, a pinch of marjoram, 1 T dry red wine and a little lemon juice and (optional) sugar to get a balanced tangy, tart & sweet flavor. Diced the leftover canned beets and mix with horseradish to taste and a little lemon juice to prepare cwikla, the ideal go-together with ham, kiełbasa and other meats served on Christmas Day.
EASIEST CLEAR BEETROOT BARSZCZ (najlatwiejszy czysty barszcz): The Polish deli, grocery of import shop near you may stock Polish brands (Hortex, Krakus) of heat-and-eat clear beetroot barszcz that comes in a carton like juice. It may be “doctored up” to taste with a little garlic powder, dry red wine, lemon juice or marjoram if desired.
SAVORY PIE TO GO WITH BARSZCZ (kulebiak do barszczu): An easy way to whip up this old favorite is to use store-bought refrigerator crescent-roll dough. After opening tube, unroll dough on floured board and with floured thumb press down to obliterate manufacturer's perforations. Run filling down center of dough-sheet and fold parallel sides over it to overlap. Pinch seam to seal. Also pinch together any other openings that appear in dough where perforations had been. Place seam-side-down on baking sheet, tuck ends under, brush with beaten egg and bake according to pkg directions or to a nice golden brown. Let cool at least 15 min at room temp before slicing and serving. For the filling, combine 1-1/2 c cooked rice, 5 chopped hard-cooked eggs, 2 chopped onions sautéed in 2 T butter or oil until lightly browned. Combine ingredients with 1 beaten uncooked egg 1 - 2 heaping T chopped dill and salt & pepper rather generously to taste.
BARSZCZ-ACCOMPANYING TURNOVERS/PASTIES (paszteciki do barszczu): Proceed as in savory pie recipe above, but after obliterating manufacturer's perforations with floured thumb, cut dough sheet into 8 small rectangles. Place filling on each, roll up, tuck ends under and bake on baking sheet as above.
EASY CLEAR MUSHROOM SOUP (czysta zupa grzybowa latwa): Wash, dry and slice 5-6 smallish fresh portobello mushrooms and fry in 1 T butter until moisture evaporates and mushrooms begin to sizzle. Set aside. Dissolve 2 mushroom cubes in 6 c boiling water, add the fried mushrooms and simmer several min. Darken with 1/8 t Kitchen Bouquet and season to taste with a little pepper and lemon juice. Serve over cooked egg noodles. Garnish with chopped parsley if desired.
CLEAR MUSHROOM SOUP (czysta zupa grzybowa): Drench 2 oz dried bolete mushrooms with 2 c hot water and let stand 2 hrs, then cook in same water until tender. Remove mushrooms and use in the uszka recipe that follows.
LITTLE-EAR DUMPLINGS (uszka): Soak 1 slice French bread in ½ c warm water until soggy. Chop and sauté 1 coarsely-chopped onion in 2 T butter until tender and lightly browned. Run cooked recipes (from preceding recipe), onion and squeezed-out pre-soaked bread through food chopper or process briefly. Add ¼ c bread crumbs or more, stir in 1 egg white, add 1 t chopped parsley and/or dill, salt & pepper to taste and mix well. For the dough, sift 1 c flour onto bread-board, work in egg yolk and just enough water to bind ingredients into a dough. Knead until smooth, roll out very thin and cut into 1½” squares. Place a little filling on each square, fold 2 opposite points together to form a triangle and pinch shut. Gently pull 2 ends of the triangle together into a ring and pinch them together. Cook in lightly-salted boiling water without crowding until uszka float up. Remove with slotted spoon and serve in clear beetroot soup.
MUSHROOM/CABBAGE-FILLED PASTIES (paszteciki z kapusta i grzybami): Place 2 c shredded cabbage in small pot, scald with boiling water and cook until tender. Drain in colander. In skillet brown 8 oz diced fresh white and/or portobello mushrooms with 2 chopped onions in 3 T oil until fully cooked and nicely browned. Chop mushrooms & onion and cooked cabbage in food-processor. Place mixture in sieve and force out excess moisture. If still too mushy, stir in 1 T or so bread crumbs. Salt & pepper to taste. Open pkg of refrigerator crescent-roll dough. Obliterate manufacturer’s perforations by pressing down on them with floured thumb. Cut into 2” or larger squares, spread each with a little mushroom filling and roll up jelly-roll fashion, pinching ends shut and tucking underneath. Bake according to package directions and serve hot as a hand-held accompaniment to the clear beetroot soup.
BAKED MUSHROOM PIEROGI (pieczone pierozki z grzybami): Soak 8 dried Bolete mushrooms in water several hrs, and cook in same water until tender. Separately, cut 1/2 c soft butter in 3/4 c flour, stir in 2 beaten egg yolks, 1 T sour cream and a pinch of salt and quickly work into a dough by hand. Wrap in foil and chill in fridge 30 min. Chop cooked, drained mushrooms and brown in 1 T or so butter or oil with 1 finely chopped onion until tender. Transfer to bowl and stir in 1 T sour cream and 2-3 T plain bread crumbs. Salt & pepper to taste and (optional) add 1 t chopped fresh parsley. Roll out dough, cut into circles with pastry cutter (or drinking glass), place a spoonful of filling on each, pinch ends together and bake in preheated 390° oven to a nice golden brown. Serve hot with clear barzscz or clear mushroom soup.
FRIED BATTERED MUSHROOMS (grzyby smażone w ciescie): Soak 8-12 dried Bolete mushroom caps in water several hrs, and cook in same water until tender. Transfer cooked caps to paper towel and cover with another sheet to dry thoroughly. (Note: Add leftover mushroom water to sauerkraut dishes or savory soups.) Beat together 1 c flour, 1 c milk (or 1/2 c milk and 1/2 c water), 1 egg and 1/2 salt to form a smooth batter. Dredge mushroom caps in flour, shaking off excess, dip in batter and fry on both sides in hot oil to a nice golden brown. Drain on paper towel before serving.
ZUREK WIGILIJNY (ryemeal-mushroom soup): Wash, slice or dice and fry 1/4 fresh Portobello mushrooms and 1 chopped onions in 3 T butter until tender In pot combine 5 c water, 1 c liquid rye sour (żur is available at Polish delis*) and 1 mushroom cube. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer several min. Add mushrooms and cook a while longer. Season to taste with salt, pepper and marjoram. 1 - 1-1/2 c peeled diced potatoes may be cooked in soup until tender. Thicken with 1/2 sour cream fork-blended with a heaped T flour. *If you cannot get żur liquid, sour your soup with 3-4 pinches citric acid crystals, 1 T vinegar or lemon juice and add an extra c water.
POLISH FISH CHOWDER (zupa rybna): Clean and behead ½ - 1 lb small panfish (perch, bluegills, chubs, crappies, bullheads) or use 1 or 2 heads (with eyes and gills removed) of a larger fish (carp, pike, walleye, whitefish, etc.). Rinse well and place in pot, add 6-8 c water and 1 t salt and cook 1 hr. Drain. If using panfish, force them through a sieve into stock. If using large fish, remove all meat from heads and return to stock. To stock add 2 sliced carrots, 1/2 a small celeriac (or 1 stalk celery) diced, 1 small sliced parsley root, 2 quartered onions, and 2 peeled diced potatoes, 1 bay leaf, 6 peppercorns and 2 grains allspice and cook until vegetables are tender. Remove soup from flame. Fork-blend 3/4 c sour cream with 2 T flour and 1 T vinegar and gradually stir into soup. Simmer several min longer. Salt & pepper to taste and add 2 - 3 gratings nutmeg. Garnish with a heaping T fresh or frozen finely chopped dill.
FRIED FISH (ryba smazona): Carp and pike are the traditional Wigilia fishes but any fresh-water species (esp. walleye, perch, trout, bass, catfish, etc.) will do. Slice larger, cleaned (gutted, scaled, beheaded and fin-trimmed) fish into 1 to 1-1/2” steaks. Smaller panfish may be left whole. Intersperse with onion and lemon slices, salt well, sprinkle with lemon juice and refrigerate covered overnight or at least 2 hrs. Rinse and pat dry fish (discard onion and lemon slices.) Season fish with pepper and paprika, dredge in flour, shaking off excess, and fry in hot oil to a nice golden brown on both sides. Variation: After dredging in flour, dip in beaten egg, roll in plain bread crumbs and fry in hot oil 1/2-inch deep to a nice golden-brown on both sides. When fully cooked, drain on paper towel and serve immediately.
SAUERKRAUT & PRUNES (kapusta ze sliwkami): Drain, reserving juice, from 33 oz jar of imported Polish sauerkraut, rinse lightly, drain again, chop coarsely and place in pot with 8 oz chopped, pitted prunes. Add 2 c water, 1/2 a mushroom bouillon cube and 1 bayleaf, bring to boil, reduce heat to med for 15 min, then reduce to low, cover and simmer until tender, stirring occasionally (1 hr or more). Brown a large chopped onion in 2 T oil, add 1 c liquid from sauerkraut pot, cool slightly and in it dissolve 1 heaped T flour. Stir mixture into sauerkraut and simmer a while longer. Season with pepper and 1 t or so liquid Maggi seasoning. Serve with fried fish.
SAUERKRAUT SALAD (surowka z kwaszonej kapusty): Drain and rinse 1 pt (preferably imported Polish) sauerkraut, press out moisture and chop. Place in salad bowl and tear apart so it doesn’t stick together. Add 1 chopped onion, 1 finely grated carrot and 1 finely diced, peeled apple. Season with pepper and sugar, drizzle with salad oil and toss. Garnish with chopped chives. Excellent with fried fish Optional: Salad may also be seasoned with a sprinkling of caraway seeds.
FRIED FISH FILLETS (smazone filety rybne): Using fillets is a more convenient and less messy than bone-in fish. Whole fresh-water fillets are preferred, but the pressed, frozen, ocean-fish squares are also OK. Marinate fillets in salt, lemon and onions as above, pat dry, dip in egg wash, roll in bread crumb-flour mixture and fry in hot oil to a nice golden brown on both side. Drain on absorbent paper and serve immediate with horseradish sauce (below).
HORSERADISH SAUCE FOR FRIED FISH (son chrzanowy do smażonej ryby): Fork-blend 1/3 c each: sour cream, mayonnaise and prepared (non-creamed) horseradish). Season with salt, white pepper, lemon juice and a little confectioner’s sugar to taste. Serve cold in sauce bowl.
POACHED FISH (ryba z wody): Delicate and delicious poached fish is recommended for weight-watchers and those who must avoid hard-to-digest fried foods. To 4 c vegetable stock (home-made or bouillon cube) add 2 T vinegar and (optional) 1/4 c dry white wine. Bring to boil and in it cook 2-1/2 lbs portion-sized fish (1 fish per person – whole perch or rainbow trout with heads and tails intact are especially good)) until done: app. 20 min. The stock should cover the fish during poaching. Carefully remove cooked fish with slotted spoon to platter. Pour off water that collects on platter. Drizzle with melted butter and lemon juice and garnish with chopped dill. Note: If poaching fillets, reduce cooking time.
POACHED FISH POLONAISE (ryba z wody po polsku): Prepare poached fish as above. While it cooks, melt 3 T butter in sauce pan, add 3-5 chopped hard-cooked eggs, toss to coat evenly with melted butter, salt & pepper and garnish with chopped dill. Do not fry – only heat through and garnish portions of poached fish with egg topping.
CHRISTMAS EVE CABBAGE ROLLS (golabki wigilijne): Core cabbage and wilt cabbage leaves in boiling water cored-side-down, remove wilted leaves and set aside to dry. Chop and fry 8-16 oz fresh Portobello mushrooms and 2 onions in 3-4 T butter until tender and combine with 3 c slightly undercooked groats (buckwheat, barley, millet) or rice. Stir in 1 egg, salt & pepper generously and add a heaping T fresh, finely chopped dill and/or parsley. Form gołąbki and place snugly in no more than 2 layers in roasting pan or casserole. Drench with 2 mushroom cubes dissolved in 4 c hot water and bake covered at 350° 2 hrs or more. Combine pan drippings with a heaping T flour dissolved in milk to make a sauce.
SAUERKRAUT & MUSHROOMS (kapusta z grzybami): Drain, rinse, re-drain and cook a (preferably Polish imported) 1-liter jar of sauerkraut and chop coarsely. Place in pot, scald with boiling water to cover, add 1 mushroom cube, 1 bay leaf and cook 1 hr or until it looses its crunch. In 3 T hot oil fry 8 - 12 oz fresh diced Portobello mushrooms and 1 large diced onion, stirring frequently until liquid evaporates and mushrooms begin to sizzle. Sprinkle with 1 heaping T flour, add several T sauerkraut liquid and simmer briefly. Stir into sauerkraut and simmer on stove-top or bake in 350° 1 hr. Season to taste with salt, pepper, a little ground caraway and/or marjoram and a 1-2 t sugar. Simmer a while longer.
SAUERKRAUT & PEAS (kapusta z grochem): Proceed as in kapusta z grzybami (above), but use only 1/2 the amt of mushrooms. When adding mushroom-onion mixture to sauerkraut, add 1 c drained, canned chickpeas, stir and simmer another hr on stove-top or in oven.
SAUERKRAUT & NOODLE SQUAURES (kapusta z lazankami): Prepare sauerkraut as in preceding recipe but omit chickpeas or beans. Cook a pkg of lasagna longer than directions on package indicate, so it is no longer “al dente” (rubbery), but fully cooked. Drain, rinse under cold running water in colander, drip dry and cut into squares. Combine with the hot sauerkraut and serve.
BUCKWHEAT GROATS (kasza gryczana): For 3 cups, bring 2 c water containing 2 t salt and 1 T oil or butter to boil. Rinse and drain well 1 c (white, med. brown or darker brown) buckwheat groats. Add to boiling water a little at a time so boiling does not cease. Stir, reduce heat, cover and pop into 325°oven for at least 30 min.
BUCKWHEAT GROATS WITH MUSHROOMS (kasza gryczana z grzybami): In 3 T butter sauté 12 - 16 oz fresh diced portobello mushrooms and 1 large diced onion, stirring frequently. When moisture evaporates and mushrooms begin to sizzle stir in 2 c milk in which 1 mushroom bouillon cube and 1 heaped T flour have been dissolved. Stir and simmer into a smooth sauce, stirring in a heaping T sour cream. Season with salt & pepper and (optional) garnish with a little fresh chopped dill and/or parsley. Serve over hot buckwheat groats.
BEANS & PRUNES (fasola ze sliwkami): Cover 10 - 15 diced pitted prunes with warm water and let stand 30 min. In 2 T butter sauté 1 chopped onion until tender and lightly browned. Cook prunes in the water they were soaked 20 min, adding a little more water if all of it was absorbed. Add the onions, 2 T vinegar and season with salt, pepper and marjoram. Pour over about 1 qt Prepare the beans as directed in previous recipe. Pour hot stewed-prune mixture over 1 qt or so heated, drained, canned beans (navy, great northern, pea-beans, lima).
PIEROGI/FILLED POLISH DUMPLINGS (pierogi): Sift 3 c flour onto bread-board, sprinkle with ½ t salt and 1-2 T salad oil, deposit 1 egg in the “crater” and pour about 1 c hot water over flour, bringing flour towards center with flat of large knife. Continue mixing by hand until uniform and knead until dough is smooth, elastic and dotted with air holes. Cover with warm bowl and allow to rest 30 min. Divide in two (keeping the temporarily unused half under bowl) and roll out thin. Cut into rounds with drinking glass or pastry-cutter, place a spoonful of filling on one side of circle, fold other side over and crimp to seal. Transfer to large pot of lightly salted boiling water. When boiling resumes, reduce heat to a gentle, rolling boil and cover. When pierogi float up, remove with slotted spoon to colander drip-dry. Combine and roll out dough scraps and repeat process if there is some filling left over.
PIEROGI FILLINGS (nadzienia pierogowe):
• CHEESE & POTATO (z serem i kartoflami, “ruskie”): Cook 1-1/4 lb peeled potatoes in boiling salted water until tender, drain, mash and set aside to cool. To potatoes add 3/4 lb farmer cheese or dry cottage cheese, mashed in with potato-masher or processed to a ground-like consistency in processor, 2 med. finely chopped onions sautéed in 2 T oil until tender and lightly browned. Mix ingredients well and season with salt & pepper.
• FARMER CHEESE (pierogi z serem): Combine 1 lb farmer cheese or dry cottage cheese, pulverized to a powder in food-processor, 1/4 t salt, 1 t sugar and 1 raw egg yolk into a smooth filling. Variation: Those that prefer sweet cheese pierogi may add 2 - 3 T sugar and (optional) 1/4 t vanilla extract. 1/4 - 1/3 c plumped raisins and/or 1/4 t grated lemon zest may also be added.
• POTATO & ONION (pierogi z kartoflami): Cook 6-7 med potatoes until tender, drain well, steaming off moisture, and mash thoroughly or run through ricer. Lightly brown 2-3 onions chopped fine in 3 T butter or oil. Add fried mixture to potatoes, stir in 1 egg and (optional) 1 T bread crumbs. Salt & pepper to taste.
• SAUERKRAUT & MUSHROOM (z kapusta i grzybami): Rehydrate, cook and chop 1 oz dried mushrooms. Drain, rinse and re-drain 1 qt sauerkraut and cook in water to cover containing 1 mushroom cube covered 30 min. Uncover and allow liquid to steam away. Transfer to colander and when cool enough to handle chop. Return sauerkraut to pot, add cooked mushrooms & liquid and 1 chopped, butter browned onion and simmer covered about 20. Drain in colander pressing out all moisture. Salt & pepper to taste.
• CABBAGE & MUSHROOM (ze slodka kapusta): Core, and shred 1-3/4 lb cabbage, place in pot cover with water add 1 mushroom bouillon cube and cook 30 min from the time it comes to a boil. Drain in colander and press out moisture. Brown 1-2 chopped onion in 3 T butter or oil. Combine with cabbage and simmer 15 min, stirring to allow moisture to evaporate. Drain and press out moisture. Add 1 T bread crumbs and salt & pepper to taste. 6-8 oz fir4ed fresh mushrooms or 1 oz cooked rehydrated dried mushrooms may be added.
• MUSHROOM (z grzybami): Soak 1 slice crumbled-up stale French or Vienna bread or a small roll in 1/2 c milk. Wash and slice 1 lb fresh portobello or white mushrooms (or some of each), and cook with 1-2 onions finely chopped onions in 3 T butter or oil until moisture evaporates. Grind of process mushrooms, onions and soaked bread, add 1/4 c bread crumbs, 1 small egg and mix well. Salt & pepper to taste and (optional) garnish with 1 T chopped fresh dill and/or parsley.
• GROAT & CHEESE (z kasza i serem): Combine 3 c cooked buckwheat groats with 2 c mashed farmer cheese and 2 small chopped onions sautéed in 3 T butter, margarine or oil. Mix well to get a uniform consistency. Stir in 1 small egg and salt & pepper to taste. Optional: Season with a pinch or two of ground dried mint leaves.
KLUSKI Z MAKIEM (noodles & poppyseed) Cook 1 lb pkg of wide or medium-wide egg noodles according to directions or until tender. Dot hot, freshly-drained noodles with a little butter and stir in 1 c ready-to-use poppyseed pastry filling. If store-bought filling does not contain raisins, add 1/2 c plumped raisins and toss gently to distribute evenly. May be served warm, room temp or chilled.
KUTIA (grain, honey & poppyseed pudding): Soak wheat 1 c bulgur wheat in about 2 c hot water 30 minutes. Bring to a boil and cook covered until tender. Mix in 1/2 c poppy seeds. Bring 1 c honey and 2 c water to gentle boil, reduce heat and simmer on low 20 min. When cool, stir into wheat & poppyseed mixture. May be served with cold coffee cream. Optional: 1/2 t vanilla extract, 1/4 - 1/2 c. ground or chopped almonds or walnuts and/or 1/2 c plumped raisins may be added. Note: Instead of wheat, kutia can be made with cooked barley or rice.
ALMOND SOUP (zupa migdalowa): Dry out 3 oz blanched almonds and 5 bitter almonds on baking sheet in 200° oven. Grind or briefly process almonds with 1/4 c sugar, adding several T milk so they do not release their oil. Set aside. Scald 1/4 c rice with 1/2 c boiling milk and cook covered on low heat until fluffy. Scald ground almond mixture with 1 qt hot milk, add a pinch of salt and cook covered on low 15 min. Add 3/4 c raisins. When they plump, add the rice. This soup can be served hot or cold. Optional: 1-2 drops almond and/or vanilla extract may be added.
GROATS & FRUIT (kasza z owocami): An old sweet dish of Wigilia is cooked rice, barley, buckwheat or millet groats (kasza jaglana) topped with fruit. The cooked grain is placed in a serving bowl and topped with: stewed-fruit compote (below), preserves, powidla (Polish plum butter), jam, canned pie filling, etc. There is no set recipe, so use your judgment as to how much topping you like on your rice or groats. The hot grain can be dotted with butter and sprinkled with a pinch of cinnamon before the fruit topping is added.
BAKED RICE & APPLES (ryz zapiekany z jablkami): Place 4-5 c cooked rice (preferably cooked in milk or half water, half milk) in well-buttered casserole. Top with 2 c canned apple-pie filling, dot with butter and bake covered 45 min at 350°. Naturally, you can stew your own diced apples with sugar to taste and a pinch of cinnamon until tender. Raisins may also be added.
NOODLES & FRUIT (kluski z owocami): Cook 1 pkg egg noodles according to pkg directions or slightly longer, drain well, dot with butter and drench with compote (below), preserves, canned pie filling, powidła or jam of choice.
CHRISTMAS EVE COMPOTE (kompot wigilijny): Soak 1 c pitted prunes, 1 c mixed dried fruit 1/2 c raisins and 1/2 c diced dried figs in hot water to cover 1 hr. Add a little more water if all has been absorbed and cook on low heat about 15 min from the time mixture boils. Switch off heat and let stand covered until cooled to room temp. Perk up the flavor with a little lemon juice. Note: 1/2 c sugar may be added to compote during cooking. Serve as a stewed-fruit dessert or dilute with 1-2 parts pre-boiled water for a beverage.
STEWED PRUNES, FIGS & RAISINS (kompot z suszonych sliwek, fig i rodzynkow): In bowl combine 1 c whole pitted prunes, ½ c chopped figs and ½ c raisins. Scald with boiling water to cover and let stand 1 hr. Add 1 thinly sliced, peeled lemon with seeds removed and cook 15 min, adding a little more water if all has been absorbed. Serve chilled in dessert dishes.
POLISH PANCAKES: (racuszki): Use American-style plain or buckwheat pancake mix for this recipe and prepare according to instructions on pkg, but use buttermilk instead of milk. Stir 1/2 t baking soda and 1/2 t vanilla into batter but add no oil. Into large skillet pour oil to a depth of 1/4” and heat until fairly hot. Spoon batter into hot oil and fry roughly 3” pancakes to a nice golden-brown on both sides. Drain on absorbent paper and serve at once dusted with confectioner’s sugar or drenched with any of the fruit toppings indicated in noodles & fruit above.
OAT PUDDING (kisiel owsiany): Scald 2 c oat flour (you can make your own by processing rolled oats to a powder) with 4 c boiling water, stir and set aside in warm place overnight. Next day, add 1 c warm water and stir well. Strain through sieve, pressing out as much liquid as possible. Discard content of sieve and cook liquid 20-30 min on low heat, stirring frequently. Transfer to bowl and, when cooled to room temp, refrigerate. Serve with fruit syrups or preserves of choice.
CRANBERRY GEL (kisiel zurawinowy): Rinse 16 oz fresh cranberries under running water, place in pot with 1 c water, a small piece of cinnamon bark and 1-2 cloves, bring to boil, reduce heat and cook several min. Discard spices and process cranberries, then force through sieve. Add 7 T sugar and cook on low, stirring frequently, 10 min. Remove from heat to cool slightly. dissolve 5 T potato starch (or cornstarch) in 1 c ice-cold water and stir into cranberry mixture. Cook several min longer. Set aside to set. Serve warm or cold with coffee cream.
COUNTRY-STYLE FRUIT CAKE (keks wiejski): Beat 5 whole eggs and 5 yolks with 1 slightly heaped c sugar until fluffy. Combine 1-3/4 c flour with 1 level T baking powder and stir into egg mixture, beating until smooth. Stir in 1/4 c melted butter. Rinse 1 c raisins and 1 c chopped prunes, drain, shake in plastic bag to coat with flour and stir into dough. Add 3 T finely chopped candied orange rind. Mix gently to evenly distribute fruit. Transfer to well-greased narrow loaf pan(s) and bake in preheated 375° oven about 1 hr. After it cools, serve as is, or dust with confectioner’s sugar or glaze with icing.
POPPYSEED ROLL (makowiec/ strucla z makiem): Sift 3 c flour onto bread board and cut in 1/3 lb butter chopping to achieve a groat-like consistency. Add 2 eggs and 3 yolks, lightly beaten, 1/2 c sour cream, 1 scant c confectioner’s sugar, 1 t grated lemon zest, 1 t vanilla and 1 cake yeast mashed with 1 T sugar. Quickly work ingredients into a dough, adding a little sour cream if it is too stiff to handle. Divide in two and roll each half out into a roughly 10” x 14” rectangle. Spread each rectangle with ready-to-use poppyseed pastry filling, leaving a 3/4” margin round the edges, and roll up jelly-roll fashion. Transfer to baking pan, cover with cloth and leave in warm place to rise. Bake in preheated 390° oven 40-50 min. Dust with confectioner’s sugar or glaze with white icing. Optional: Before it sets, soft icing may be sprinkled with whole poppyseeds, chopped candied orange peel, raisins, slivered almonds or chopped walnuts.
HONEY-SPICE CAKE/GINGERBREAD (piernik): Heat 2 c honey over small flame, stir in 1/2 c butter or margarine and 1-2 T honey-spice-cake seasoning (“przyprawa do piernikow” – available at Polish imports shops and delis; you can also make your own by combining equal parts ground cloves, cinnamon, ginger and pepper). Separately, beat 6 eggs with 1 c sugar, stirring in slightly cooled honey mixture. Beating constantly, gradually sift in 4 c cake flour mixed with 1 T baking soda, and continue beating until fully blended and smooth. Optional: stir in 1 c chopped walnuts. Transfer batter to narrow loaf pans and bake in preheated 340° about 70 min. When cool, remove from tins. Slice in half lengthwise, spread bottom half with powidła (Polish plum butter), replace top half and glaze with white or chocolate icing.
POPPYSEED COOKIES (ciasteczka z makiem): Work 2 c flour, 1/3 honey, 1/3 c sugar, 1/3 butter, 1/3 c poppyseeds, 4 whole eggs and a pinch of salt into a uniform dough. Roll out thin, cut into circles, stars, crescents, etc. with pastry cutter, arrange on greased baking sheet, puncture each cookie with fork in several places and bake in 360° oven 15-20 min. Decorate with icing after they cool off, if desired.