Thursday, April 1, 2010
I grew up in the glory years of Detroit and its surrounding area of southeastern Michigan. World War II was in the past, and the boom times were in full gear. I was born in 1950, on a farm, part of an 80 acre plot my father's mother and stepmother, my grandparents, acquired after working in the factories in Detroit. We lived on two acres of the plot where my father built a solid two-story red brick house in mock-Tudor style, with a detached garage, also of red brick. In a small farming community of mostly wood clapboard farmhouses, our brick house stood out: It spoke of middle class and success. It was an age of anticipation, of transition; we wanted to hold on to the past, but we were looking forward to the future.
The 1950s were glory years for me and a booming Detroit. But as the decade waned, people started leaving Detroit for bigger and better things in the suburbs. The elderly and those who did not have the resources to leave Detroit were left behind. With rising unemployment and crime the city began to die. But for me the 1950s were golden years and figure large in my story.
The Polish recipes I remember reflect our origins as Polish peasants. Many of the recipes include cabbage, potatoes, mushrooms, and smoked meats. These were hearty recipes that could sustain a family through hard times. My ancestors fled Poland in the early 1900s for the promise of a better life in America. They found jobs in the autombile industry in Detroit. Then the Depression came, followed by World War II, lean and difficult times.
I was born in a lucky time. Life was good and food was plenty. My first plan for this cookbook was to include only Polish recipes that were associated with our family and for the most part it will be just that.
As I build upon the blog, however, I will also include recipes that have become favorites of mine through my world travels. As an adult I spent many ears living overseas as a teacher for the U.S. Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DoDDS) and also working for the Arabian American Oil Company in Saudi Arabia for a number of years. So many recipes from those times have become part of my own life. They are not always Polish recipes, but I have decided to include them because I continue to make them or if there is a story attached to a recipe.
To all who enjoy my contribution to the tradition of Polish recipes, embellished with my lifetime of travel, I wish you "Smacznego - Bon Appetite"!