Tag Archives: Poland

The History of Easter Eggs

Easter EggThe tradition of dyeing eggs in the spring actually predates Christianity, although it is very heavily associated with the Christian holiday of Easter.

Ancient Egyptians, Persians, Phoenicians, and Hindus all believed that the world began with a giant egg, so it was natural to adapt the egg as a symbol of new life and rebirth in the spring.

More than 2,500 years ago, Zoroastrians decorated eggs for their New Year celebration, called Nowrooz.

During the Passover Seder, Jewish tradition holds that hard-boiled eggs, called Beitzah, are dipped in salt water and eaten.

Some of the most famous egg-decorators are Christian, however.

At Greek Easter, believers dye eggs red to represent the blood of Jesus Christ and his suffering on the cross. The hard shell of the egg represents the sealed tomb. Cracking it represents his resurrection.

In fact, a common game at Greek Easter is to crack eggs against each other to replicate the cracking of the tomb. The person whose egg lasts the longest (by not cracking) is the winner and is assured good luck over the coming year. Recipes and information about Greek Easter celebrations are available here.

Ukrainian eggs are famous around the world. Pyysanka are brilliantly and painstakingly decorated. The eggs are usually raw although baked eggs were sometimes used. The colors came from dried plants, roots, bark, berries, and some insects. The eggs were decorated at night after the children were asleep. A group of women would work together on their designs. Beeswax was used to create designs.

Other well-known eggs include Drapanka from Poland, which are dyed shades of brown using onion skins and etched to create beautiful designs.

However you choose to decorate your eggs, they are a nearly universal symbol of new life, fresh starts, and optimism.

Happy Spring!

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Cookies 11: Kolaczki

kolaczkiKolaczki is a light, flaky pastry whose country of origin is a little in doubt. Although claimed by Poland, there are many culinary historians who believe they are actually from the Czech Republic.

But no matter where they were actually born, they inspire a global following now.

This is another adaptable cookie. It can be folded into many different shapes, including diamonds and squares, and be filled with a variety of flavors. One thing is for sure, these little cookies inspire a dedicated following online!

This kolaczki recipe is from AllRecipes, shared by Yvonne.

Kolaczki

Ingredients

  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 pound shortening
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup any flavor fruit jam
  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar for decoration

Directions

  1. Warm milk to just above room temperature. Dissolve the yeast in the milk, set aside. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, salt and baking powder. Cut in the shortening until the mixture is mealy. Stir in the egg yolks and milk mixture. Knead the dough together and then refrigerate overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  3. Dust a clean, dry surface with confectioners’ sugar. Knead the dough for a few minutes. Carefully roll out your dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out circles with a cookie cutter. Place a teaspoon of jam on the center of each circle, fold the dough over, and seal the edge with a fork.
  4. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Do not store in an airtight container or they will become soggy.

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Golabki for Great-Grandmom

Unlike a lot of families in the United States, my family is lucky to have four generations thriving together.  One of the many benefits of having 80 year olds, 60 year olds, 30 year olds, and six year olds living in close proximity is sharing the stories that have shaped our family.  Among these is the search for the lost recipe of stuffed cabbage.

My grandmother’s parents were Hungarian and German.  They enjoyed traditional Eastern European 

cuisine.  However, when the Great Depression struck many of the recipes were altered to reflect the changed financial situation.  Ingredients were omitted or substituted.  One of these “lost” recipes was for stuffed cabbage.  Although we could piece together the recipe as it had been changed, it appeared that the original was no longer circulating in the family.  

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Fortunately, a friend told me about golabki, the Polish version of stuffed cabbage.  As she described the process, it struck me that this sounded exactly like what my grandmother had been able to describe to me.  After gathering the ingredients, we breathlessly attempted to recreate my grandmother’s childhood memory.  When it all came together, she was thrilled enough with the results to telephone each of my great-aunts to brag about our recovery of the lost recipe.

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