the pierogi chronicles

December 31, 2012 § 2 Comments

Christmas pierogi waiting to be fried in butter (I think they look a pod of albino stingrays…)

Been reading several blogs about pierogi over the last few days and thought I should resurrect my previous Christmas post in honor of this polish holiday tradition. (By the way, I recently learned that pierogi is plural, you never add an S on the end of it).

It’s a Polish tradition! For Christmas and Easter every year, my family makes (and eats) Pierogi. Many people have never heard of this delectable doughy treat, but I have grown up with these little guys and can’t imagine Christmas or Easter without them. We typically make two types: Sauerkraut and Potato with Cheese (farmers cheese).

Typically, a few dozen are made the week prior to the holiday and they are boiled and then frantically fried in butter just moments prior to sitting down to dinner. The frying process gets them just a little browned and a little crispy. You don’t HAVE to fry them, but it does add a little crunch and a few calories which is always nice.

Making them is fun, especially if you have a wacky sister to help and an understanding, patient mom to guide you. The night before the pierogi manufacturing event,  you get the filling ready (otherwise the process takes TOO long and you will get crabby and start fighting with your kitchen mates). I know this.

Rolling the dough correctly is important—you must get the dough to be just the right thickness (or thinness) and then you punch out a bunch of circles with a little template, like maybe a tuna can (a clean one of course). The most fun is plopping a small wad of filling in the center of the dough circle, folding the dough in half and pinching the edges to close/seal. Then you laugh, laugh, laugh at how peculiar shaped you managed to make the finished sealed pierogi and hope you sealed it well enough so that the filling doesn’t come spewing out in the boiling process. If you want to be a little fancy, you can press a fork along the edge to seal it around the  perimeter which gives added reinforcement and a cute decorative edge treatment. My mummy doesn’t like the fork thing, but I do.

I am envious of the people that can make their pierogi all look the same and very neat and uniform looking. I have always thought ours come out a bit “disheveled.” No two alike. Maybe that’s ok.

PLEASE add a comment if you make pierogi and can offer any helpful hints or advice… or if you just like to eat them. I also am looking for ideas on how to differentiate the pierogi so you know which flavor is which, so you don’t have to keep them separated at all times. Does anyone do this by forming a unique decorative edge treatment for each kind?

Five toys I wanted for Christmas in the 1960s… but sadly, I didn’t get

December 29, 2012 § 3 Comments

I began thinking about what Christmas is like for a kid and I remembered a feeling of hope. Not the hope that is manifested in the season, such as the hope for mankind now that the Savior is born. The hope that comes from wanting cool toys. 

Toys I wanted that I didn’t get… (Why do I still remember these?) Worse yet, why am I still thinking about them? 

#1 the EASY-BAKE OVEN

This toy came out in 1963 (in turquoise) and only cost $15.95. The toy still exists today, but looks more like an ugly plastic microwave.

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See how happy the girl looks?

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Look at the baking delight that one can create. I don’t bake much these days–I blame it on the fact that I never received this toy.

#2 LITE BRITE

Lite Brite came out in 1967–wasn’t much to it. Just a light box, black paper and a billion little pegs you pushed through the paper to get them to light up. Fascinating technology that I just had to have… it was the start of my fascination with electronics. It had many small pieces/parts–that’s probably why my parents didn’t get it for me. I am pretty sure this toy still exists also. 

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#3 MYSTERY DATE GAME

mystery date

This cool game came out in 1965. You opened the door to reveal one of 5 mystery dates:

  • The formal guy in a tux (probably the one most little girls found the most appealing, mainly because he was dressed up)
  • The bowling date
  • The beach date
  • The skiing date
  • The “dud” of course (I didn’t think the dud was all that bad-looking)

My friend had this game so at least I was able to do a little mystery dating.

#4 ROCK ‘EM SOCK ‘EM ROBOTS

Not sure why I wanted this– it was really targeted toward little boys and their violent tendencies, but I liked it.

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#5 DON’T SPILL THE BEANS

spill beans

I am not sure why I wanted this game either–there wasn’t much to it. You just added beans until the bucket tipped over.

People Watching TV (18)

I think it was the TV commercials–the 1960 TV commercials could make a kid beg for just about anything.

It’s too quiet

December 26, 2012 § 2 Comments

I have spent just about 30 years working in various offices. Over that 30 years, I have seen many changes—carbon copies evolved into fancy copiers. Fax machines became scanners, pink “while you were out” hand-written phone messages morphed into electronic voicemail. I am grateful for technology, but there’s something unfulfilling for me in today’s modern office setting and I finally realized what it is. It’s too quiet. 

I want to hear telephones ringing, typewriters chunking out lines of carefully crafted words, people discussing things. I guess I associate noise with productivity and accomplishment. I walk through the office now and  usually hear nothing. Employees stare into their computer screens. No one calls anybody anymore—it’s too convenient and maybe more “appropriate” to send an email or a text. Why is this? Because we don’t want to “bother” the other person with a call–we assume they are very busy staring into their computer screen as well. 

 

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I have a soft spot for vintage telephones and typewriters and have amassed a small collection of the heavy clunky devices. I imagine it’s my way of holding on to an era when office machines were intricate and beautiful and had a rather commanding presence at your workspace. It’s a remembrance of a time when offices were noisy and abuzz with metal hitting metal–whether it be a phone receiver slamming into its cradle or a small bell reminding you to hit the carriage return. Things were being done. You could hear it and feel it. 

type collection

A sampling of my vintage office machine collection

I start a new job in a new office next week. I am not sure if I will even have a desk phone, desk phones have become pretty scarce these days. I may just have to bring one of my rotary dials for decoration or maybe to use as a paperweight. Oh, wait a minute, paper? What paper?  

gimme some Sweet Talk

February 1, 2012 § 3 Comments

I love those little chalky valentine heart candies with the sayings stamped on them. When I was a little girl, I was fascinated that you could actually print words on food. In my mind, candy was considered “food.” I enjoyed reading the different expressions and of course, found them extremely tasty (although now I think they taste like sweetened chalk). They were only around during Valentine’s day which added to their mystique.

English: A photograph of a heap of candy heart...

Image via Wikipedia

I was brought back to those days, purely by accident recently when I walked by the Philosophy Fragrance section at a local Von Maur Department Store. The fragrance counter was prominently showcasing a body lotion called “Sweet Talk,” in honor of Valentine’s Day no doubt. I smelled the tester bottle and was immediately compelled to squirt a pink gooey glob of it on my hand. Guess what? I couldn’t help but smile and was transported back to my childhood.

I was in love — in love with a moisturizing body lotion that smelled exactly like those old-fashion chalky hearts. I had to have it. I quickly grabbed a fresh pink bottle and paid the nice Philosophy lady, explaining how I just love those candies and just had to have this candy-smelling lotion. She smiled, counting the commission dollars in her head and mentioned that they also have shower gel and lip gloss in the Sweet Talk line. Thanking her, I said the lotion will be enough for me (for now) and mentioned that if they made a spray perfume, I probably would have bought a gallon of that as well. She’s checking on that –“Maybe it’s in the philosophy marketing plan.”

Sweet Talk is comforting. It’s little girl. It’s sweet and candy-like. I can’t stop smelling it.  

magical pink potion, philosophy Sweet Talk

can a typewriter be cute?

July 9, 2011 § 6 Comments

1961 Royal Typewriter, a real gem

I saw this baby in an antique market and just fell in love with it. Why? It’s cute. Simple as that. I am not sure if it is the mint & gray color scheme  or the red Royal logo button that you push to open the lid. It’s just likable and cute, innocent and unassuming. Sometimes things just hit you that way. It’s as if they shout out at you simply by quietly sitting on a high shelf.

This machine looks easygoing and simple, but that’s only on the surface—it weighs about 500 lbs and is built like a tank. It has integrity and class. That’s how they made things in 1961—built to last and made in the USA with pride. That’s why it’s still around for us to enjoy and admire. 

Now it’s mine and it’s cute. 



a special WWII veteran in my life… a re-post in honor of Memorial Day

May 29, 2011 § 3 Comments

There are people you meet in life that leave an impression that just never goes away. For me, that person is Chet. Except I never actually met Chet, he was just always there, from day one.

Chet wasn’t a blood relative. He was a close friend of grandmother’s, lived with her for many years, through thick and thin. It could be tough for them at times. He was a true member of my family and I’m not sure he ever realized it.

Chet was my grandfather without actually being a grandfather. He was there for every event in my life. His generosity was evident at birthdays, Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day. He and my grandmother loaded up the car and took us on summer excursions. Many miles were consumed seeking out motels that met my grandmother’s requirements for “clean” and Chet’s determination that the place needed to have a swimming pool. I loved to swim—he taught me how to dive during one of those trips.

He took us to amusements parks, circuses, museums and baseball games. We even descended beneath the city to visit the dark and creepy yet intriguing world of a working salt mine. I still clearly remember the smell and the cave-like surroundings, with walls composed of sparkly salt, eerie yet beautiful at the same time.

We were the only kids in the neighborhood to have a little roller coaster in our backyard thanks to Chet.

As I reflect back, it was not the monetary generosity that mattered most, although that was always apparent. It was a deeper, richer generosity. Don Rickles once said the key to a happy life is to surround yourself with people who care. Chet cared. Simple as that. My whole family cared.

Chet passed away twenty-some years ago at age 69 from heart issues that troubled him for several years of his life. Heart issues that I am sure medical science could intervene with very easily these days thanks to coronary stents and the plethora of pharmaceuticals that are catapulted at us now, but that wasn’t meant to be for him.

He’d probably be a little embarassed to be written about this way. He never did anything famous, he never owned a home, never married, never had children. He quietly fought in WWII and like all the veterans of that war, didn’t expect much for his efforts there and rarely spoke about it.

I found this old photo of him and written on the back in his own writing were the words, “A little dog I met at the Beach, 9-24-42.” I love this photo. It represents what this man was all about—a quiet, unassuming guy, always there if you needed him. A man who wouldn’t hesitate to pick you up, smile, lend a hand, expecting nothing in return.

I wish he could be here now to see what became of us and I wish I had an opportunity to tell him he mattered.

Thank you for being there, for taking part. I think of you often.

stop pushing the credit card

March 17, 2011 § 2 Comments

Macy's Gold Card IMG_2059

Image by stevendepolo via Flickr

Hey Target, Kohls, Pier One, Macy’s — all you giant retailers out there—STOP pushin’ the credit cards. When you ask me if I want to save 20% on my purchase by opening a credit card, I will politely say NO. Stop there. Don’t calculate the 20% off savings on my current purchase, I am more than capable of simple math. I simply don’t want to open up any more credit and I’ll tell you that. I don’t mind being asked the question, but STOP once I say NO. I realize that you are compensated if I “sign up”, but it’s wrong to push credit. It can get in the wrong hands and that’s disastrous. It’s wrong for you to be compensated by pushing credit cards…and you should tell your employer that.

Some people, especially the younger ones, will sign up for your credit card and not realize how much they are spending or  how much interest they are paying. They will get into trouble. You are preying on these people.  Be a responsible retailer. Stop pushing credit.

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