After Baba and Mom finished preparations for Sunday’s chicken soup and noodles, my mother went about her cleaning chores while my grandmother concentrated on Saturday’s dinner menu. If she wasn’t sure of what to make, she’d occasionally ask for my input. One of her meals on my ‘favorites’ list was steak smothered in onions. It just happened to be Mom’s favorite dish as well.
My brother, Dan, however despised onions. So when steak and onions were served, he carefully removed every speck of the hated vegetable before eating the meat. He never complained because he loved steak.
Baba would make a quick run to the butcher shop located just behind Utes’ Grocery Store to purchase the freshest cuts of round steak. She’d usually pick up two or three pounds of kielbasa since it could be refrigerated for several days without being compromised. My grandmother would never think of freezing anything for convenience purposes.
STEAK SMOTHERED IN ONIONShttp://tinyurl.com/ood8xqv
September 9, 1944 was no different than any other Saturday with regard to cooking and chores. Although Mom was nine months pregnant with her second child, she helped Baba in the kitchen then went upstairs to clean out her refrigerator and mop down the floor. She hummed along as she smelled the wonderful aroma of steak and onions baking in my grandmother’s oven. Dinner was less than an hour away, and Mom looked forward to sitting around Baba’s table with her entire family enjoying one of everybody’s favorite meals.
Unfortunately for Mom, her water broke, labor began with a vengeance, and she was relegated to her bed to birth her baby daughter, yours truly!
Luckily Dr.Ruth Stimetz was our neighbor. After an urgent call from Baba, the kindly doctor appeared at the back door eager to render her services. According to what I’ve been told, I stubbornly refused to leave the safety of my mother’s womb without a fight. After an hour or two though, I made my debut to a happy, awaiting audience. Unfortunately Mom never got to eat her steak and onions that day!
In Prague, the word for this delicious, fragrant dessert is ‘babovka.’ In our family, we called it Baba’s pound cake. Although the recipe I’ve provided uses orange for flavoring, my grandmother usually preferred lemon. Whenever she made it, the whole house smelled of citrus goodness.
On the day I was born, the babovka was already cooling on the back porch. Right before dinner, Baba planned to sprinkle powdered sugar on it and serve a thick slice to each one of us.
I’ve been told that in all the excitement of my pending birth, my grandmother barely had time to set out the steak and onions before Dr. Stimetz called her to assist. Zedo and Uncle Tom ate their meal as usual while Dad, holding my two-year-old brother, Danny, paced in the hallway outside the bedroom. When my cry pierced the air, Dad, Danny, Zedo, and Uncle Tom stopped everything and came to see what I was. I think they were all happy to welcome a baby girl into our growing family.
No one ate the pound cake because Baba forgot about it until days later.
PUPPY LOVE (When We Were Kids, Bk. 2) is the second chapter book of this series. I originally wrote it for tweens and teens. However, because it takes place in the Fifties, I soon discovered that the baby boomers, folks born 1941-1944, are just as enamored with the story as the kids. PUPPY LOVE takes people back to their own childhood, which makes them able to identify with Betty Lou and Danny Kolinski on so many levels.
When Betty Lou and Danny experience their first taste of puppy love, they haven’t a clue how to deal with it. One minute Lou couldn’t be happier to have Bobby Stupar’s attention, and in the next instant she was pushing him to the ground in disgust. When Danny realized Emily Salay liked him, he was elated. However when school started, he avoided her so his friends wouldn’t tease him. When Emily discovered his inhibitions, she dropped him like the proverbial ‘hot potato.’
Only when Baba told Betty Lou the story of her dog, Millie, and her puppies, did the girl understand the highs and lows of first love.
I hope you will try some of Baba’s favorite Saturday 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.
I also hope you get a chance to read Puppy Love and the following three books in the series, Playing Hooky ,Pimples and Periods, and the newest addition, Promises. You won’t be disappointed, I promise.