Sometimes world events touch a place deep inside of us where identity itself resides.
For some time now, reclaiming my culture by learning the traditional recipes of Ukraine has been a priority. Some of these recipes come from family, and others I have pieced together through research and cookbooks.
The last independence from Russia was in 1991. That is within my lifetime.
I’m sure that now is the time to take a tighter grasp on tradition. This is a culture which, by force, has slipped through the fingers of its people more than once.
Syrniki (Cottage Cheese Griddle Cakes)
1 lb farmer’s cheese
2 tbsp vanilla sugar
1/4 tsp salt
5 tbsp rye flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
seeds of 1 vanilla bean
butter, for frying
Combine all ingredients, except for butter, in a blender. Blend on high until the mixture is smooth and only tiny cheese lumps remain. Cover the batter and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
Heat a skillet over medium-low heat. Spoon the batter into the skillet. You will have to spread the batter into a circle, as it is very thick. Fry gently until the underside is golden, then flip and do the same to the other side.
Strawberry Varenye (Stewed Strawberry Preserve)
1 lb fresh strawberries, hulled
squeeze of lemon juice
2 oz honey
pinch of salt
Put the strawberries and honey in a saucepan over low heat. Once the strawberry juices start to run, turn up the heat to boil. Once the mixture hits a boil, immediately reduce the heat to medium low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the strawberries are very soft and the syrup has thickened. Cool and store in a jar in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.