Monday, November 29, 2010

If loving this fruitcake is wrong - I don't want to be right!

Fruitcakes? Really?!?

Yes, really. I'm the first one to make a fruitcake joke (pun intended!), but I'm convinced the reason why so many people detest these annual holiday cake-bricks is that they have experienced so many awful ones. I know chewed on a few dense, tasteless versions. I have also had the extreme pleasure of sinking my teeth into some luscious, choc-full-of-everything-good, festive fruitcakes. (Pictured - Dad chopping up 2+ pounds of roasted pecans for the batter.)

When you see really good fruitcakes in the bakery or story, they might seem pricey considering their size. There's a couple of things at work here. First, they are not meant to be eaten like Moon-Pies, devoured one after the other (that's how everyone eats their Moon-Pies, right?). A good fruitcake is savored in small slices, sometimes with coffee or tea, or with a nice glass of brandy or egg nog. A little goes a long way.

The second reason for the hefty price, the stuff that goes in them are expensive, comparatively speaking, to the ingredients of many other Christmas baked goods. (Pictured - pounds of candied cherries and pineapples - yes some of them are GREEN - and a couple more pounds of golden raisins and dates. In the background - a pound of butter softening up.)

Sometime during Thanksgiving weekend, Dad, Marianne (aka "Sister") and I make up our fruitcakes for holiday entertaining. When mom was still with us, she generally made them at this time, so that they would have a month or so to cure with the wine-soaked cheese cloths prior to that first cut. We use the same recipe that mom and my grandma used - it came from my Aunt Helen, actually my great-aunt, she was one of grandpa's sisters and never turned down a cold beer - my kind of girl! (Pictured - creaming the butter before the dry ingredients get mixed in.)
While the recipe is not complicated, it's not something you can throw together in a few minutes. There are a number of steps, beginning with chopping the pounds of nuts and fruits that will get folded into the batter. The batter itself, which uses a pound of butter and ten eggs (how bad can that be?!?) flour, baking soda, a little mace, vanilla and sugar, really puts the test to any mixer. I'm sure when Aunt Helen started making this recipe, she probably didn't have a Kitchen Aid stand mixer like I have, and probably used the biggest bowl she could find and a wooden spoon. Even now, the mixer will only take the batter so far. the fruit and nuts must be mixed in by hand. (Pictured - Dad getting a workout by mixing pounds of nuts and fruit into the stiff cake batter and making sure that each part of the batter gets a little bit of everything.)
One recipe makes four standard loaf pans. Once the pans are greased, the batter goes in almost to the top - this cake does not rise much - it's too heavy! Once the batter is in the pans, we decorate the tops of the cakes with pecans (that makes it fancy!) and in the oven they go. These bake in a somewhat slow oven (285 degrees) for two hours. You know they are done when they are lightly golden on the tops.

Pictured is the finished product, right out of the oven. I can't tell you how awesome the smell is in the house while these are baking. There is something very old-fashioned about these cakes, and something very comforting. Like most heirloom food, they remind me of the people I loved who make these cakes before it was my turn to do so. So, I look back and know that my mom is, like always, in the kitchen with us as we bake these wonderful traditions. And I look forward, knowing that these cakes will be shared as we celebrate Christmas, and all that it means, with the people we love today and are fortunate to have close.

After the cakes cool for a couple of hours I remove them from the pans and let them sit on a baking rack for another hour or so. Then it is time to give them their first wrap. Wine is poured in a bowl (I like to use a white semi-dry) and cheesecloth is soaked in the wine. The cloth is then wrapped around the cake, as the wine will gradually be absorbed. Then, I wrap it in Saran Wrap, then in foil, and in the fridge it goes for a couple of weeks. It will come out again and for a second soaking of the cheesecloth in wine, and wrapped back up.

This is a fruitcake to love!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Come Cook With Me - Let's Make Golabki! (Stuffed Cabbage)

Let's face it, who can turn down a GIGANTIC head of cabbage for only a dollar? When walking through Detroit's Eastern Market on Saturday, I was bombarded with huge cabbages, cauliflower, squash of every variety and literally tons and tons of beautiful Michigan apples. I couldn't buy it all, but for my money, the huge cabbage was a must-have!

I love cabbage. It gets a pretty bad wrap, and it seems more and more, the hearty cabbage seems to be fading from the everyday culinary landscape. I'm not on a cabbage crusade by any stretch of the imagination, but there are a couple of things that one can make with cabbage that are among life's greatest pleasures. A hundred variations on cole slaw would be one, and golabki (this is the Polish word), or stuffed cabbage is another.

Often, I will hear people say things like, "making golabki is so much work - I don't bother anymore." Yes, it's work to make stuffed cabbage, just like it's work to make bread, or cook a roast, or make mashed potatoes, so what's the difference?? Either you're going to work and make stuff, or you can fill your pantry with shoes and just go out to eat all the time.

So, I had the big, beautiful head of cabbage. Now I had to do something with it. I made up my mind we (meaning dear sister Marianne, Dad and myself) would make golabki. With the holidays coming up, there would be any number of occasions where we could serve them. So, yesterday Dad went to our favorite Polish butcher - Joyview Meats (on Joy Rd. just east of Telegraph in Redford) and got two pounds of pork and one pound of beef (chuck) ground together. When I got home from work, I sauteed one large onion in butter with a little salt and pepper and then added the onion, a cup of cooked rice, a couple of crumbled chicken bouillon cubes and some salt and pepper to the meat. It went in a ziplock back and back in the fridge.

When I got home today, it was time to begin. With the meat filling ready to go, we got into the kitchen. I got the largest pot I have (I use it for canning) and filled it two-thirds with water and got in on the stove. You really can't start until you have your water at full boil. Dad cut the core (stem) out of the bottom of the cabbage. This helps the leaves to release when they are in the hot water. We put out some towels and got out the food scale. (Photo - there's Dad carefully lifting the cabbage leaves off the head as they blanch in the water and soften up a little)

Once the leaves come out of the pot, they have to be trimmed before they can be used. This was my job. You take the leaf and cut the center vein off the outside. This vein is always tough, and it prevents the leaf from rolling easily, so it really needs to be removed. With the vein off, the entire leaf is now the same thickness and the golabki are more uniform. But be careful, these leaves are hot coming out of the water and you don't want to tear them while trimming. Practice makes perfect! (Photo - me trimming the outside center vein of the cabbage leaf)

Once the leaf is trimmed, it's ready to roll! You can see the photo of the meat mixture (pork, beef, rice, onion and seasoning). Determining how much filling to put in each leaf depends on how large your leaves are and how much filling you have. We had nice, big leaves - so after some reviewing, we decided on 3 1/2 ounces of filling per leaf. As you continue to peel away at the cabbage, the leaves naturally get smaller, so the last few we did we only put in 3 ounces of filling.

It is usually easier to portion out the filling in advance. This way, when the cabbage leaves start coming to the table, you can start rolling. Sister was in charge of the rolling, and using a food scale she made up the filling portions and was ready to go! (Photo: Marianne at the table making up the filling for the golabki)

There is a little technique to rolling the golabki. Marianne has it down - you start with the filling at the bottom and roll once around, then you fold in the sides, and complete the rolling. This makes a nice, tight seal for the filling and totally surrounds it with cabbage goodness.

Notice (photo left) that before the golabki are put into the roasting pan, the pan is lined with cabbage leaves. These are either the outside leaves that are torn, or very thick and wouldn't work well for a roll. By doing this the golabki are sort of kept in a cabbage cocoon - never touching the sides of the roasting pan. It helps prevent browning of the golabki and infuses even more cabbage flavor.

Once the roasting pan is full, then the golabki is topped with it's tomato sauce. Nothing complicated here - we had a total of 18 golabki. I used two cans of condensed tomato soup along with one can of water. Heat in a sauce pan on the stove, and then ladle over the golabki.

After the tomato soup, sprinkle a little brown sugar on top (maybe 3 or 4 tablespoons). This gives just a hint of sweetness and deepens the flavor. It also cuts a bit of the acid from the tomato soup and the cabbage.

Just like the bottom of the pan, put cabbage leaves on top of the golabki once you have finished with the tomato soup and brown sugar. This will insure that the rolls don't brown from contact with the foil (which will go on top of the pan) and it will keep that cabbage flavor circulating while it bakes.

Finally, the golabki are ready to go in the oven. For the first bake, put them in for one and a half hour at 350 degrees. When you take them out, keep them covered. Let them cool. Put them in the refrigerator. DO NOT EAT THEM!! They haven't achieved their full potential - they must sit for a day (or two) and then, and only then, can you put them back in the oven for a second bake - one hour at 325 degrees, and enjoy every succulent bite! Or, you can put them in the freezer (like we're doing tonight) for a later time.

Monday, August 9, 2010

On the Road: Baltimore and Beyond!

Sometimes, if you're lucky, life gets peppered with accidental traditions. One such example in this life of mine is making periodic trips to the Baltimore/Washington DC area to pay a visit on my very dear friends, Liz and R.M. Kelley - otherwise known in my household as "The Fabulous Kelley Sisters." For 15 years now I have been making my way by land or sky to visit them, and without exception, each trip brings memorable adventures in good eating! (R.M., Liz and me in front of Cafe Hon in Baltimore)

Ralph and I set out by plane this time (got a great deal from Southwest) and was greeted by Liz at BWI. It was an evening flight, so after arriving back at her house, some quick catching up and a couple glasses of wine, we were off to bed. The weather was INCREDIBLY HOT (record-breaking temps - 100+ degrees). Our first junket was out to explore Baltimore, particularly it's "Little Italy" neighborhood downtown near the inner-harbor and the Fells Point neighborhood. We stopped and picked up R.M., and had the chance to meet the beautiful and delightful Terry and see their charming house. Upon our arrival they made us tomato sandwiches with these incredible fresh summer tomatoes on top of a thin layer of mayonnaise on toasted bread. Dee-lish! It was the perfect summer appetizer.

When we got to the Italian section of Baltimore, we ventured into a new place called "Vino Rosina." The decor was ultra contemporary, and I was worried that it would be one of those places that try very hard to be trendy and cool, which generally means small portions and mediocre food! Not the case here. We were seated right away - the place was fairly busy and it felt good to get out of the oppressive heat and into the air conditioning. One of the things they specialize in is panini sandwiches, and each of the four of us ordered a different one. They were all delicious, but the most memorable part of the meal was our appetizer: Olive Hummus. Was it wonderful! Served with warm crusty Italian bread and olive oil/balsamic vinegar, I could have just eaten all this and been satisfied. It had a good olive flavor, slightly garlic, and it spread nicely on the bread. (Olive Hummus - our appetizer at Vino Rosina in Baltimore)

After lunch, we proceeded into the Fells Point neighborhood of Baltimore. I've been here before and love to walk around to the many quirky unique shops and take in the great variety of architecture and history. I'm amazed at the the small narrow townhouses people live in here - one right after the other, block after block. Detroit never had housing like this, so compact. After walking around for a while and shopping, we headed back to where we were parked. As we walked, the air was full of the wonderful aroma of baking bread. Sure enough, there is a large commercial bakery in Fells Point, H&S Bakery. They make lots of local bread sold in area supermarkets and wouldn't you know we walked right past the H&S Bakery Thrift Store on our way to the car? How could I pass up this chance? I could have bought a dozen loaves of bread and other baked goodies, but something that caught my eye was a box of heavily frosted cookies called "Bergers Chocolate Cremes." Liz and R.M. explained that Bergers Cookies are a local icon, and that if I wanted to experience a real part of Baltimore life, then I should get a box. Say no more! I could hardly wait to get back to R.M. and Terry's house to try these cookies. The cookie itself is a white cakey wafer - not much to it. But the cookie really serves as a frosting delivery device, as it holds a thick layer of rich, creamy chocolate fudge frosting. Out of this world!

After the Bergers Cookie coma wore off, we were ready to venture out into the furnace and head to another Baltimore neighborhood called Hampden. I had never been to this part of the city before, but we were set on going to Cafe Hon for dinner. "Hon," short for "honey," is a local expression that people call each other. The epicenter of hon-ness is the Cafe Hon, which is adorned by a three-story pink flamingo in the front. More than just fun and kitschy, the food at Cafe Hon is original and terrific. Everything is homemade and you can tell. There are a lot of choices on the menu, but it's foundation is good comfort-food, including some regional dishes like crab everything. (I wanted to get a t-shirt that said, "I got crabs in Baltimore" but Ralph wouldn't let me!) As we like to do, everyone ordered something different. Ralph started with Maryland Crab Soup - a house specialty, and I had the Cream of Crab soup. (Liz and Ralph standing outside of Cafe Hon and wondering when am I going to finally snap the picture!)

For dinner I ordered one of the daily specials, the coconut crusted tilapia. Ralph ordered another special, crab cake sliders! R.M. ordered the black bean burger and Liz ordered the crab cake. (The Maryland Crab soup at Cafe Hon)

Here's a photo of my dish - the coconut tilapia. It was a little adventurous to put coconut and fish together, but this delicate piece of fish along with a salsa of tomato and pineapple worked beautifully. And as a side, I sampled their homemade macaroni and cheese. The plate was very large, and you can see that the fish took up half the plate, so no one was going home hungry tonight!

Here's the crab cake sliders that Ralph ordered. These mini crab cakes on soft hamburger buns served with a sour dill pickle on top and lots of fries. He's holding the side of spinach he ordered, which was steamed with garlic. It was comfort food redesigned in a fun and delicious way.

My feeling is, if you're on vacation and don't order dessert when you're out then you might as well stay home! The Cafe Hon offered a long list of desserts, including lots of homemade cakes and pies. When we walked in, we happened to pass the counter where the desserts were on display, and since I'm a sucker for anything coconut, I couldn't help but notice this giant coconut cake sitting on a pedestal. I knew it would be mine!
Our waitress also told us that their bread pudding had just won an award as "Baltimore's Best." Since bread pudding lists as one of Ralph's favorites, it seemed clear that we were going to be ordering a couple of desserts. Common sense got the better of me and we only ordered those two, but I could have kept ordering! (R.M. samples the luscious coconut cake)

Here is Cafe Hon's award-winning bread putting in the process of being eaten by four forks.

Our last full day took us to our nation's capital to check out an exhibit at the Corcoran Gallery of Art and get a bite to eat. It was 104 degrees outside. Needless to say, we kept the walking outside to a minimum. We went into the DuPont Circle neighborhood and had lunch there at Pizzeria Paradiso. In addition to offering really unique artisan pizzas, they also offered an incredible selection of beers from both local breweries and around the world. Two people in my party ordered a beer called "Raging Bitch" - I won't say who ordered it but they found the name fitting!
So, on this blazing hot day with humidity almost in the triple digits, we got some cold drinks, salads and ordered up a couple of pizza pies. (Veggie pizza from Pizza Paradiso)

One of the pizzas was the veggie - very yummy. I ordered one of the pizza specials, which was a peach/cheese pizza that had feta, fresh peaches and prosciutto on top. It was a salt/sweet combination, very light. It was interesting, not something I would eat all the time, but it was fun to try something different. We hated to leave the cool of the restaurant, but we managed to not totally wither and walked ourselves around DuPont Circle for a little while.

As I've said on this blog many times before, part of the fun of any trip is to sample the local specialties - things you can't find at home. Such is the case with Utz potato chips. They are actually made in Pennsylvania, but they are a staple in Baltimore area snacking. What's more, they actually make a "crab chip," which is a chip lightly coated with Old Bay seasoning. Talk about awesome! I love my made-in-Detroit Better Made chips, but these Utz chips were a quality product. Light, crispy, not greasy and a good potato flavor. The crab chips were over the top - as you can see, I had no problem putting away this small bag in mere minutes.

Our last official function before getting on the plane and heading back to Detroit was, of course, food related. I couldn't get my mind off of those Bergers Cookies, and wanted to take some home for my dad and friends. Liz got online and I started calling around, and we found that we could buy them at a grocery store called "Giant." What's better than a giant - a Super Giant! So, before dropping us off at the airport Liz took us to her local Super Giant and there in the bakery department was boxes and boxes of Bergers Cookies. I grabbed three boxes and didn't worry about how I was going to manage them on the plane. I happy to report that they made it home in good shape and are LONG GONE!

Yes, it was another wonderful weekend with the fabulous Kelley sisters - such generous hosts and dear friends. Spending time with them made every meal special, every trip an adventure, and gave us a weekend to remember. When you are with people who love food, you are with friends! We're looking forward to seeing them again soon! (R.M., Liz and Ralph in front of Cafe Hon)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Orange Pineapple Cake

I ran across this recipe for orange-pineapple cake a few months ago and had been meaning to make it for a while, but kept forgetting about it (so many recipes, so little time!).

Last night, I decided to just make it, and if people seemed to like it, add it to the rotation of cakes served up at St. Josaphat's during church dinners, parties or luncheons.

It wasn't a hard recipe, but as is always the case, the trick is having ALL of the ingredients on hand. A stop at my neighborhood Kroger insured that I had everything that was needed.

An interesting note about the cake batter - no oil or fat added. It did call for a half-cup of applesauce and an 11oz can of mandarin oranges (including syrup) as well as four egg whites. The cake was light but moist and orangey. The topping was a breeze - CoolWhip, a can of crush pineapple (un-drained) and a package of vanilla pudding.

I served it up this afternoon with a pot of piping hot coffee and we all took a mid-afternoon cake break. I vote that we make this a daily thing.

Many thanks to food-porn photog extraordinaire Liza Lagman-Sperl who makes everything look even more luscious than it really is for her wonderful pictures. Check them all out at:

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Feeding Detroit: Pork Chops ala Polska

On the face of it, 280 pork chops sounds like a lot, but in a matter of about 25 minutes, they all disappeared. Today was the annual Polish Pork Chop dinner at St. Josaphat Church. It's hard to say what makes these pork chops Polish - maybe it's the Polish butcher who cuts them to order (about 1/2" thick with the bone left in), or the Polish folks who cook them up, or the fact that they are served at an old Polish parish. Either way, these pork chops are prepared the way my mom always made them. They are dipped in egg wash, coated with seasoned flour and browned in a frying pan. After that, the chops go in the oven with ton of sauteed onions and bake low and slow until they are fork tender and melt in your mouth. (The west dining room is ready for service)

We usually serve these with boiled redskin potatoes topped with lots of melted butter and parsley. This year, at the request of the dinner's sponsors, we made Potatoes Supreme. Some people call these cheesy potatoes, others call them creamy potatoes, but whatever you call them, they are one of those dishes that you eat at some sort of special celebration. The base is diced potatoes and then you add melted butter, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, onions, cream of chicken soup and some seasoning. They are baked until a golden brown top crust appears.

(The pork chops are ready to go into the oven and bake)

We always make kapusta (Polish sauerkraut) at this dinner. You'll see it mentioned in previous blogs - it cooks for 10 hours and has an aroma that anyone who had a Polish grandma will recognize. (Ken is mixing up the Potatoes Supreme - three huge batches to feed this hungry crowd)

The other items on the buffet included peas and carrots, cucumbers and sour cream (our sponsor always makes these-they are incredible), pickled beets, dill pickles, applesauce, rye bread and butter, ice cream and cookies. (Dad is getting the peas and carrots ready to cook)

This was a record crowd for this dinner. Tickets sold-out in a matter of a couple of weeks. It always amazes me that as much as people come for the food, they also come for the fellowship. When the hall is filled with people eating, laughing and celebrating the community of our parish, it's a beautiful thing. (One of two roasters filled with kapusta, cooking away and getting ready for the buffet)

(Dear friends Marianne and Helen making their way through the line - it's so wonderful to share these dinners with family and having a party!)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Feeding Detroit: Sweetest Heart of Mary Fish Fry

On Friday, it was my turn to help out at the Lenten fish fry at my sister parish, Sweetest Heart of Mary. This annual event started about five or six years ago when the parish started having a fish fry. My parish, St. Josaphat, clustered with Sweetest Heart of Mary in 2003 and I have met so many wonderful people there. The SHM fish fry is unique in many ways. In addition to the traditional fried cod, they also offer baked flounder, pierogi (they make their own), soup, macaroni and cheese, a salad bar and every Friday there is a special of the day. (Pictured: the ladies are getting the bread ready for the tables prior to opening for the day.)

Last year, Fr. Mark asked me if I would consider cooking one of the Friday specials. I was happy to and thought that instead of offering another seafood dish, I would make a favorite dish of my mom's - spinach lasagna. Mom made this lasagna many times, not necessarily for Lent, but every now and again. So, last year I made three pans (36 servings) and it all sold. This year's fish fry was even busier than last year's - word is getting out about this wonderful event - so I made four pans (48 servings) for this year. I'm glad I did! The SHM fish fry opens at 3:00pm and closes at 8:00pm, and by 6:30pm, and we served our last piece of spinach lasagna at 6:30pm! Who knows, maybe next year I'll need to make five pans! (pictured: the kitchen crew is busy filling orders during one of the dinner rushes before Stations of the Cross.)
A lot of people always ask about how the lasagna is made. Like most pasta dishes, it starts with the sauce. Everyone has their own sauce recipe, and I was never sure what my mom put in her sauce, but I used to watch her put it together. I made about four gallons of sauce, not only for putting the lasagna together, but for putting on top of it when it's served. Then, I use frozen chopped spinach, ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses and Barilla lasagna noodles (the no-bake thing since sliced bread!). All told, there are four layers of cheesy spinach goodness. (Pictured: the spinach lasagna waiting to go out of the kitchen)

Putting this much of anything together requires a bit of an assembly line, and my dad and sister are always in the kitchen with me helping out on all these crazy projects I get involved in. But, when people come together to enjoy good food and each other's company, it really doesn't feel like work at all. This coming Friday - Good Friday - is the last fish fry. There won't be any spinach lasagna this week, but there will be lots of good people and lots of good food. Sweetest Heart of Mary is at the corner of Russell and Canfield in Detroit and the fish fry is from 3pm to 8pm. Stations of the Cross takes place at 6:30pm - if you've never been there, I think you'll agree that it's one of Detroit's most beautiful churches. (Pictured: pan one of four filled with spinach lasagna for the fish fry)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Feeding Detroit: Corned Beef & Cabbage Dinner @ St. Josaphat

Well, we may have missed St. Patrick's Day by a little, but that fact certainly didn't dampen the spirit of this afternoon's festivities at St. Josaphat's. A tradition for many years, the Sunday preceding or following St. Patrick's has always been celebrated with a corned beef and cabbage dinner. While the parish's roots may be Polish, it's true that everyone likes to be Irish for this holiday. Knowing some people who are actually from Ireland, they don't eat corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick's Day. Leave it to us Americans to invent new traditions for others! (Pictured: many hands make light work - 50 lbs. of carrots peeled in 25 minutes!)

There are a few dinners a year at St. Josaphat that can usually be counted on to sell out - this is one of them. Going into this weekend, I knew that we were going to have about 140 dinners to serve, and, the Polish cook in me always makes a little extra "just in case." The corned beef is the star of the show, and before going into work on Friday morning, I found myself at the plant where the corned beef is processed picking up 100 pounds. I get our corned beef from Wigley's in Detroit's Eastern Market. I generally order the "supreme trim," which is exceptionally lean. As a matter of fact, Wigley's always gives me extra fat to add to the pot when I'm cooking the meat for extra flavor. In total, I cook the corned beef for well over five hours. On Saturday, it cooked for three hours, then I take it out, let it cool and then dad and I start slicing. My sister counts the slices (not an easy job!) and then we kind of figure out how many slices we can give to each person. I put the slices in buffet pans with some of the cooking liquid and cover with foil. (Pictured: carrots are peeled - dad starts slicing them up for the pot)

This morning, the corned beef went back in a low oven for almost another three hours. Talk about tender! No knives needed - this corned beef you cut with your fork. We also cooked up 50 pounds of potatoes, 50 pounds of carrots and about 20 head of cabbage. We also served a tossed salad, rolls and butter, dill pickles and pickled beets (hey, we're Polish after all!) and cake and coffee. If anyone ever leaves St. Josaphat hungry it's their own fault! (Pictured: Shirley and Busia cutting 140 slices of cake)

I don't know what I would do without my most excellent cooking crew: dad, sis, Ken, Shirley, "Busia," and Delphine. Thanks to all their help, we pulled another dinner off! More than just the prep and the cooking, there's the serving and all the clean up after it's all over. A lot of parishioners and friends help out with every dinner, from picking up dirty plates and silverware to keeping the coffee pots full. It's really a collective effort - I'm just the ring master! (Pictured: a batch of cabbage cut and ready to get cooked - there's something about the smell of cabbage that makes me feel good!)
My friends Helen, Marianne and Adrienne (all good cooks themselves) came to the dinner today with their friend Rosemary. This was their first St. Josaphat dinner and I think they had a good time - I know they were all winners at the raffle! I love having new folks come and join us for these celebrations of food, faith, family and friends. (Pictured: friends and family at one table - Helen, Marianne, Adrienne and Rosemary sit with my cousin Robbie, his lovely wife Michelle and a couple of their kids)

We're not cooking a dinner in April what with all the preparations for Easter and other doings at this time of the year. But, we'll be back in May with our Polish Pork Chop dinner - another favorite. These are the pork chops my mom made: thin, with the bone in, lightly breaded, browned and then baked in the oven with slices of onions. Until then, there will be more life to live and food to eat!
(Pictured: what it's all about - the corned beef at the buffet. Below - boiled potatoes with lots of butter and parsley.)