One of our sisters has a special interest in cooking the foods of other countries. Over time she has heard me repeat many stories of my Ukrainian mother’s experiences with food and what I learned about it through her.
Perhaps my favorite memory is that of packing our picnic boxes for our all-day blueberry picking excursions. These always contained fresh baked babka, lots of butter some fresh boiled eggs from our chickens and a little horseradish root from our garden. Today’s blog features a glorified babka bread filled with chocolate…enjoy!
“Think the rain will hurt the rhubarb?”
Well, I certainly hope not, because this has been the best year yet for our rhubarb patches. Never have they produced so much fruit and never have we tried so many new rhubarb recipes. We’ve had many more compliments and requests for more rhubarb in any form we’ve made it!
Personally, I don’t think anything can top a lovely dish of plain rhubarb or strawberry rhubarb sauce for the finishing touch on a favorite meal. Make it now while the fruit is available, and freeze a good amount for when it’s not.
A favorite breakfast we often serve for those on retreat (or sisters!), is a strawberry rhubarb parfait made with our own yogurt, and topped with homemade granola. By the way, rhubarb is chock full of nutritional value which many people do not know!
Years ago before pita pockets, as we now know them, had become so common and readily available commercially, they were a regular everyday staple in our home. We called these Syrian bread, because we had an authentic Syrian neighbor who baked it regularly for her household and taught my mother how to make it. I have many happy memories of helping my mother shape the dough into the round loaves. I loved watching these magically puff up into inflated discs in the oven as they baked; and then settle back down into their original shapes after they came out of the oven and cooled.
Always we would roll some of the bread up into towels while still warm; when it cooled this way it had a much chewier texture which I especially liked just with plain butter. However there are so many ways to enjoy it. Sisters particularly love it stuffed with fried or roasted eggplant and fresh sliced tomatoes, roasted onions, peppers, and zucchini or yellow squash slices, with a sprig of fresh basil.
Another favorite way we eat it is split in half, brushed with oil, herbs of choice, onion salt and grated Parmesan. Then baked in 400 degree oven for 5-10 minutes until brown and crisp. It is a fun bread to bake and a fun bread to eat in whatever way you like.
As our choir was preparing for our Lenten concert program this past week, we reminded ourselves that the English word Lent is a shortened form of Old English len(c)ten, which means ‘spring’. This means that Lent refers to ideas of rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal, resurrection and regrowth.
What could be more spring-like than a warm tart and sweet lemon soufflé? As I was preparing this dessert as a gift for a friend, I looked out into our snow-covered yard imagining crocuses budding their heads out of the frozen earth as a promise of what lies ahead.