I was pleased to hear that so many of you enjoyed Baba's Favorite Monday Slovak/Polish Recipes. I was even happier that you wanted to know more about the woman who was so important in my becoming the person I am today. Without any formal education whatsoever, Baba was a vessel of wisdom and knowledge she willingly shared with anyone smart enough to listen. She had a glorious sense of humor, and a stubborn streak a mile wide. Mostly Baba had a deep faith in God which carried her over the hills and valleys of life without bitterness or despair.
I've decided to share more of my Baba's recipes with you on my Monday blogs for the next six weeks. I hope you treasure them as much as I do.
Upon arriving home from daily Mass, Baba hurriedly ate breakfast, then set up the ironing board in her kitchen. Before she actually started this tedious Tuesday task, Baba separated Zedo’s and Uncle Tom’s dress shirts from the rest of the clothes. Next she’d fill a bowl with water and grabbed the bottle-cleaning brush from the drawer. My grandmother spread the shirts out on the kitchen table one at a time and generously doused them. Finally she’d roll each one up tightly, wrap the entire bundle in a towel, and place it in the refrigerator. She always said her technique was the best way to crisply-ironed shirts with the least amount of effort.
Baba took a break at lunchtime, not so much to eat as to get off her feet for a little while. She’d enjoy a salami sandwich on rye, and a cold glass of milk. If there was a cookie around, Baba was sure to find it. Oh how she loved her sweets! I’m the same way. Without dessert, a meal just isn’t complete.
PAN-FRIED PORK CHOPS
Pan-Fried Pork Chops were not exclusive to Slovak or Polish kitchens. Baba often made them because Tuesdays were busy, and this dish was very easy to make.
When buying her chops at the local butcher shop, my grandmother insisted they were not too thin, and not too thick. Medium thickness insured that when frying them, the pork chops would be cooked thoroughly.
Baba floured the meat on both sides. She’d then let the chops sit on waxed paper for a while. Baba said that by allowing them to dry first, the flour wouldn’t stick to the skillet. She was definitely right. I use her method all the time and have never had that problem.
When the bacon grease was heating, Baba diced garlic cloves and sautéed them in the oil. As she placed the pork chops into the skillet, the meat sputtered for a few seconds. Baba fried one side of the chops for about three or four minutes, then turned them over for another three. She could tell when they were done by their color.
Once the pork chops were removed from the skillet and placed in the oven, Baba left the grease and garlic on the stove. During dinner, she’d warm up the skillet so we could dip bread into it, sop it up, and eat it with the meal. Yum!
(Potato Drop Dumplings)
A great side dish to go along with Pan-Fried Pork Chops was Baba’s potato drop dumplings mixed with cottage cheese. All she needed was three or four potatoes, flour, milk, and salt and pepper. Before she combined the ingredients, she’d fill a pot with water, add a pinch of salt, and light the burner. After the dough was made and the pot was boiling, Baba took a teaspoon, dipped it in the water, and then used it to scoop up a small amount of batter. Using a second spoon to nudge it off, she’d drop the dough into the boiling pot. Baba continued this process until all of it was gone. The dumplings were done after simmering for about twenty minutes.
Using a little butter, Baba prepared a large skillet to warm the cottage cheese. After draining the dumplings, she’d spill them in a pan and add the cottage cheese to it. If you aren’t a fan of cottage cheese, Baba oftentimes mixed in sweet cabbage or simply served the dumplings plain.
VANILLA ICE CREAM
Baba didn’t have time to make dessert on Tuesdays. Instead she’d pull out the carton of vanilla ice cream and place one or two scoops in a small bowl for each of us. It was always vanilla because that was Baba’s favorite. To this very day, I will choose vanilla over any other kind because vanilla is my favorite ice cream, too.
Baba never made her own ice cream and neither have I. But after finding this simple recipe on Pinterest, I’m planning on making it by the gallons and storing it in the fridge. I guarantee it will disappear quickly since both my hubby and I love the stuff!
I hope you will try some of Baba’s favorite Tuesday recipes. As a family we looked forward to every meal because we knew how much love and caring went into the preparation. We were never served anything that came out of a box or can. With Zedo seated at the head, we respectfully gathered around Baba’s kitchen table to share blessings, food, and conversation. We cherished this time together and were excused only when our plates were emptied and our stomachs, full.