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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Around the World in 12 Dishes: Exploring Ukraine through Food and Craft

With Ukraine in the news so much, it is a perfect time to explore the country through food, books and crafts. It is also a perfect time for lessons with older children about current events and such. Since we do not let Hazel know about current events or watch the news, we looked at tradition, food and crafts. 


Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe and is the largest country that is entirely in Europe. For more information, read the introduction post at Around the World in 12 Dishes. I shared the books we have read and not read about Ukraine. Have you read Jan Brett's The Mitten? I know it is really popular around here and it is the retelling of a Ukrainian folktale.

 We decided to try two different Ukrainian recipes. The first we found in the Ukraine book of the Festivals of the World series.  It is written by Volodymyer Bassis (or Vladimir Bassis--all the sites seem to list both spellings). The recipe is for Strawberry Kysil. Kysil can be made with different berries, but Bassis claims strawberries make the best one.

Strawberry Kysil 
(from Ukraine by Volodymyer Bassis)
Ingredients:
2 quarts of fresh strawberries (I am sure you could use frozen)
2 cups cold water
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon potato starch (we used tapioca starch since we could not find potato starch)

1) Wash and hull the strawberries. Put in pan with water and bring water to a boil. Boil on high for a minute then turn down to low and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. I let Hazel use the potato masher while the strawberries cooked to help get the juice out. This makes the next step a bit easier.

2) Push the strawberries through a fine mesh strainer with a wooden spoon. Put juice back in pan.

3) Stir in sugar and bring back to a boil. Boil over high heat for 2 minutes.

4) Reduce heat to medium and stir in starch and dissolve it (Hazel did not do a good job of dissolving our starch so we have chunks in it). Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes stirring until it thickens. 

5) Cool to lukewarm and then put in refrigerator to get cold for a few hours. Enjoy!



Strawberry Kysil is a bit like strawberry soup or eating a liquid form of strawberry jelly. It is delicious but you will not want to much at one time.

Our second recipe came from Ukrainian Classic Kitchen and International Cuisine and it is Ukrainian Yabluchnyy Korzh. Hazel likes to call it what it tastes like--apple pie. It is a type of cookie crust with apples inside. It is delicious!

Ukrainian Yabluchnyy Korzh
Adapted from Ukrainian Classic Kitchen and International Cuisine
Ingredients
Dough:
5 cups of flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
6 large egg yolks (if I made again I would use whole eggs)
1 cup sour cream

Filling:
7-8 large apples (we used Granny Smith)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Start by making the dough:
1) Stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. then add the butter and mix with your hands (Hazel loved this part) to make a coarse flaky mixture. 

2) In a small bowl mix egg yolks and sour cream together. Then add it to the dry ingredients. Work it with your hands into a firm, smooth, not sticky dough. (Ours never really formed a good firm smooth dough.)

3) Divide dough into 2 pieces, making one slightly larger than the other. 

4) Turn oven on to 375 and grease with butter (we used the wrappers) a 13 x 9 x 2 baking pan. Do not use baking spray to grease.

5) With the larger dough, cover bottom and sides of pan. The instructions say to roll it out, but I found ours was just too crumbly to do this. I pressed it into the pan.

6) Time to start filling. Peel and thinly slice the apples (we used our food processor). Mix with sugar and cinnamon.

7) Add apple mixture to bottom crust.

8) Roll out top crust or pat it on top. Try to seal apples in.

9) Bake for 45 to 55 minutes. It should be brown in color and the apples should be tender to a knife. Set on wire rack to cool for 20 minutes.

10) Now you can attempt to remove the pan (I did not attempt due to the crumbly nature). To remove: Run a sharp knife along the sides and then put a wire rack on top and flip it over. Remove pan and put other wire rack on bottom and flip back the correct way.

11) Serve at room temperature. You can dust it with powdered sugar (we didn't bother). Refrigerate leftovers but bring to room temperature before eating.


Since it tastes similar to apple pie (Steve's favorite dessert), we all love it!

We also have been reading Urkainian stories. We found a Cinderella tale, The Golden Slipper, which we shared last week. We also found many versions of a Christmas tale involving spiders. All the crafts I could find had to do with spiders as Christmas ornaments or pysanky (Ukrainian Easter eggs).
Ukrainskie pisanki
Pysanky Source: By Carl Fleischhauer (Library of Congress employee[1]) 
(http://www.loc.gov/folklife/cwc/) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Since we already posted about pysanky, we made a silver spider web and spider Christmas ornament. We found the instructions in Christmas Crafts from Around the World by Judy Ann Sadler. 


In the Christmas legend, the spider on a Christmas tree spins webs of silver for a poor family who has no money for Christmas. Thus why the ornament is done in silver!
Ukraine's Flag
Now it is time for the Around the World in 12 Dishes Blog Hop! Please visit the other posts and feel free to share any Ukrainian crafts, food, etc. posts that you have done.