Monday, June 6, 2011
Celebrating "The Art of Polish Cooking" by Alina Zeranska
At 18 years of age, I was the very first editor of The Art of Polish Cooking. Since English was not my Mom’s first language, she struggled a bit with spelling, grammar and tenses - all that stuff we were supposed to learn in middle school grammar class. So, under the assumption that some of that grammar actually stuck in my head, I was tasked to spend at least an hour a day, for weeks, reading and correcting each recipe and each story that told of the culture and tradition associated with Polish cuisine. I made hundreds of red pencil notes in the margins of smeary erasable typewriter paper. And the debates over how to turn a particular phrase…just went on and on. I was totally glad when the book was done. Today, as Mom is up in that “glorious kitchen above,” I can freely admit that I hurried through a lot of it. As we now read her pages more closely, my young age and anxiousness to “just get through it” kind of shows. But, I can also say very gratefully, that I was thoroughly enriched by going through the process (even though I had no clue back then). I tasted almost all the dishes she tested, and I absorbed volumes about the customs and traditions. There is a whole lot of great food in that book. Ours may be prettier and our recipes have been refreshed for modern kitchens, but for any serious advocate of Polish cuisine, there should be a place on your shelf for The Art of Polish Cooking by Alina Zeranska. Today I’m thankful for going through it all. Thanks Mom!
In Europe, back in the day, it was so tedious to squeeze cookies into different shapes from a pastry bag. Today with a modern cookie gun, creating and enjoying these old fashioned goodies can be a snap and more fun as well.
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 cups walnuts, ground
½ cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon rum
Combine all ingredients and mix well. Load the cook gun and create a variety of small fun shapes on a buttered cookie sheet. Bake at 275 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes. Smacznego!
Yields about 6 dozen, depending on size.