Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Signing virgins no more!

Witamy! This weekend we lost our book signing virginity. Saturday we were at the open house of The Polish Embassy in Washington DC, where over 1500 people visited.  Our table was in the room with food samples which could not have been better.  Location! Location! Location!  The embassy officials expected a lot of people, so we brought a carload of books to sell. Our friends Karen and Joe arrived at the Embassy well before the doors opened and were verbally “supporting” our efforts to unload the car, through the big black iron fence.  Our son-in-law BJ Ketchem was with us to take the money and was a great help all day. We were shown to our “home” for the next 7 hours and got set up.  A box for the cash...posters...copies of the book on the table, and a box of Sharpies for signing.  We were told that a fresh Sharpie is the weapon of choice for autographs – good black color, writes smooth, and the ink dries right away.

Here’s what our table looked like, and here also is a picture of Laura signing one of the books.  Karen and Joe were among the first to come through and bought the very first book we ever sold at a signing event – thanks to our Dance Budz!  We got the signing process down pretty quickly but had to be very sure that we had the spelling right for the dedications...I did screw up a couple of times but recovered seamlessly.

Right across our room were a few long tables holding the food – two types of pierogi, kielbasa, a tiny cup of Polish beer and chairs around the room for weary Embassy visitors to take a load off.  All the embassies of the European Union participated in the open house, and a lot of folks were making every stop.  The food smelled amazing - ALL DAY LONG!  It was killing us sitting there with those aromas wafting past our noses.  I did sneak through the line a few times - had to test the food you see.  The Embassy had sent trucks up to New York to factories where pierogi and kielbasa is mass-produced.  I have to say that the pierogi were pretty good for not being home-made...the dough was light and the fillings were quite flavorful.  One was with sauerkraut and the other was with a shredded meat.   The kielbasa was aromatic and had a great crunch.  I didn’t try the beer because we were working. By 4 PM we sold and signed quite a few books.  Great exposure for these fledgling authors and a great time was had by all.

The next day, Mother’s Day, we were signing books at Kielbasa Factory in Rockville Md.  This is a serious Polish deli frequented by many Poles in this area.  Many varieties of kielbasa, ham and other traditional meats, imported foods and other products from Poland, all the latest magazines, folk art, and of course our book.  Laura got an bright red apron that said “Pierogi Queen.”  Here is a picture of us with owner Krystyna Ahrens.  Traffic was a bit light because of Mothers Day and because the local Polish Church had an event at the same time, but never-the-less we sold and signed quite a few books during our time there.  Gratefully, we were able to study the deli cases and plan out what goodies we need to buy for an upcoming party starring dishes from our book.  So it all worked out well, and we promised to come back to Kielbasa Factory closer to the holidays, when folks from all over the area will flood the store to get their holiday goodies.

By the end of the weekend we were beat and couldn’t wait to dive into a festive adult beverage and just “veg” in front of the tube.  And we did – on both counts!


Prune Vodka
With our party coming up, I’d like to serve a traditional Polish drink to accompany the bigos, stuffed cabbage rolls, kielbasa, vegetable salad, and other dishes from our book.  Poles love flavored vodkas, and Prune Vodka is a very traditional recipe that goes back hundreds of years.  It’s a not-so-distant cousin to Slivovitz (plum brandy) since prunes are nothing but dried plums.

1 cup of dried prunes, pitted and sliced
1 bottle of good Polish vodka  (Luksusowa is a mid priced brand of Polish potato vodka that I think is especially smooth, but you should choose your favorite.)

Add the prunes to the vodka; stick in the freezer for 3 to 6 weeks.  Shake the bottle gently every 2nd day.  Just before serving, strain vodka through double thickness of cheese cloth.  Stick bottle back in the freezer until the last minute.  Serve ice cold.

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