Monday, April 10, 2017

Happy Easter from my Family to Yours!

Pysanky, Pisanki, Polish Easter Eggs, Ukrainian Easter Eggs
These are my latest additions to my Pysanky (Easter Egg) collection. These are all in the Ukrainian style.

On Good Friday, when I was young, we went to church from 12 to 3. I remember the lamentation, Stabat Mater, being sung in Latin. Here is one particularly beautiful and simple version for those who remember this beautiful song:

 Link to Stabat Mater
Image of Christ on the Cross used with permission from the Morgue file.

Wesolego Alleluja!, Happy Easter in Polish
Happy Easter in Polish.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Yummy Baked Chicken Thighs

I have chickens on my mind. Chicken was a staple on our table when I was growing up, though rarely fried chicken. I don't even think my mother even owned an iron skillet. Today, I have a skillet, but, like my mother, rarely make pan-fried chicken.

I remember mom cleaning dead chickens that had been raised on the farm. There were times that I was forced to help her remove pin feathers, either plucking them by hand or burning them off with alcohol, which gagged me unbearably. Mom would save the formed eggs that were still in the chicken, but had not yet grown hard shells. 

When I think back to the "golden years" of the 50s and 60s, I am sure that my mother didn't miss leaving the killing of chickens and plucking their feathers behind. I surely don’t.

I also remember my grandmother retrieving errant chicks that had fled the chicken coop in the spring. My grandmother wore long cotton shirts and skirts, a “babushka” (a triangular piece of cloth) on her head, and usually a long apron. She would gather the ends of the apron together, and scoop up errant chicks and return them to the coop.

Dad got chicks from the feed store in Willis in the spring. We kept them in the basement with a light on that would give the chicks enough warmth to survive. He fed the chicks chopped hard-boiled eggs. I found it a bit strange—chicks eating their potential brothers and sisters. I kept my concerns to myself.
I made this chicken recipe recently using a number of sources for ideas and ended up making baked chicken thighs that were absolutely delish! The crust was crispy and the chicken was juicy and the flavors melded together well.

I think were my best chicken thighs ever and I would love to hear from you if you decide to make them!

Serve with green beans and store-bought potato salad for a delicious and easy weekday dinner.

Roasted Chicken Thighs
6 whole Bone-In, Skin-On Chicken Thighs
2 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups Panko
1 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Chicken seasoning
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Butter-flavored baking spray

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line cookie sheet with tinfoil. Spray foil with butter-flavored baking spray.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, mustard, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Place chicken thighs in bowl and mix together until chicken is completely coated with mixture.
In another large mixing bowl, stir together, Panko, Parmesan cheese, and spices.
Remove chicken thighs, one piece at a time, draining well, then dipping piece into bread crumb mixture. Pat crumbs to chicken to adhere.
Place thighs on cookie sheet, skin-side down.
When all thighs have been coated with bread crumbs, spray each generously with baking spray.
Bake thighs for 50 to sixty minutes, turning once after 30 minutes.

Serve with green beans and potato salad for a delicious weekday dinner. Leftover chicken is great either cold or gently warmed in the microwave.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Christmas on Florida Street and other Stories: Our Interview with NPR StoryCorp

Florida Street in Detroit, Michigan. The neighborhood was almost exclusively Polish in the 1950s.

In January, 2017, my husband, John Rush and I recorded my stories of growing up in a Polish American family near Detroit, Michigan during the 1950s and 1960s. We were recorded by folks from StoryCorps at the StoryCorps van, which was visiting Fort Myers.
Click on the StoryCorps van above to access my stories of growing up in Detroit.

Many of the stories that were recorded have companion pieces in the written stories that appear on this blog. I thought it would be a nice idea for folks and family to be able to hear the stories in my own voice. Please feel free to send us comments.

John, me, and my sister, Barbara at a surprise Shrimp Dinner at her house in Michigan.

Monday, January 23, 2017

National Pie Day 2017 - Adam's Coffee Toffee Chocolate Pie

January 23 is National Pie Day so I decided to make a wonderful pie I have made before. The original recipe was called Blum's Coffee Toffee Pie and was taken from a restaurant that no longer exists in San Francisco, California. The Wives with Knives site has the original recipe along with more information about the restaurant and the pie

Unfortunately the recipe calls for raw eggs so that sent me on a hunt throughout markets in Fort Myers looking for pasteurized eggs--I didn't want anyone to get sick from raw eggs. Pasteurized eggs no longer exist in Fort Myers! I might have to check health food stores in the area, but I gave up after two hours of searching.

My recipe is similar, but not the same, but it sure makes a good pie and it is fairly easy to make! Enjoy!

Adam's coffee toffee chocolate pie, Coffee Toffee Pie, Blum's Coffee Toffee Pie, Blum's restaurant, Polish kitchen
Adam's Coffee Toffee Chocolate Pie - Finished product!
Rolling in the brown sugar and chopped nuts.
Pie shell ready for oven. Use a pie weight to keep crust uniform.

Adam's Coffee Toffee Chocolate Pie, Blum's Coffee Toffee Pie, Walnuts,
Nothing like a good cup of coffee to go with the Coffee Toffee Chocolate Pie!

Adam’s Coffee-Toffee Chocolate Pie


1 refrigerated pie crust
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips


1 package cook and serve chocolate pudding
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons powdered instant coffee
2 tablespoons butter


1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
6 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons powdered instant coffee
1 tablespoon Ghiradelli unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon grated semi-sweet chocolate  or chocolate curls

Preheat the oven to 425° F.


Unroll pie crust. Sprinkle with brown sugar and walnuts. Use rolling pin to lightly press brown sugar and walntus into dough.  Line a 9-inch pie pan with the rolled-out dough, prick all over with a fork, then press a piece of heavy-duty foil snugly into the pie shell. Bake for 6 minutes, remove the foil, and bake for about 10 minutes more, until dry and crisp. Sprinkle chocolate chips over crust. Return to oven for 1 minute. Then use back of tablespoon to spread chocolate over bottom of crust.


Combine powdered chocolate pudding mix and instant coffee granules. Add milk and cook as directed. After pudding is cooked quickly stir in 1 tablespoon butter until combined. Pour into pie shell. Allow the pie to chill for at least four to six hours before adding the topping. 


Combine the cream, confectioners’ sugar, and instant coffee in a large mixing bowl of an electric mixer. Beat until the mixture is stiff. Spread the topping in swirls over the chilled pie and sprinkle with the grated chocolate or chocolate curls.

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Post Christmas Brunch - Adam’s Eggs Benedict Florentine

Eggs Benedict Florentine Polish Kitchen Adam Janowski
Eggs Benedict Florentine - New Year's Eve Brunch 2016.
I first had this dish at my friend, Ted's apartment in Walldorf, Germany, the day after Christmas Dinner in the early 1980s. The apartment was overflowing with guests who were staying over from all over the world. It had been a raucous Christmas Eve with eleven men and one woman singing Christmas carols accompanied by two pianists playing on two baby grand pianos in a cramped living room. There was such a radiance and joy in that home that Christmas, that when one man, a steward for Lufthansa, was called and received late notice that he had to work a flight to South Africa that was leaving late Christmas Eve, that he cried, and we all were in tears as he departed. There was such a feeling of family in that apartment that night, and throughout the days of Christmas during my visit.

On the day after Christmas, two of the guests prepared the Eggs Benedict Florentine for the dozen or so guests visiting at the time. It was such a magical table. The house too warm and crowded, but oh, so cozy, the fragrance of balsam and fir, the smell of ham frying on the stove, and the loud laughter of young men in their prime vying for attention.

Most of the guests who attended that dinner are gone now, lost to the ravages of a disease that was unknown that joyous Christmas, that time of new-found love and joy and family.

I paid attention to the preparation of that dish, not taking notes, just mentally keeping track of what went into it, just as I took mental notes of the visit—I have no pictures of that visit, but it is one of the most vivid in my mind, and always will be.

Post Christmas Brunch - Adam’s Eggs Benedict Florentine

1 cup ham sauce (see recipe below)
2 English muffins, split, toasted, and buttered
3 cups fresh spinach
Garlic powder
1 package Hollandaise sauce, prepared as directed on the package
4 eggs, poached
8 thin slices of ham
1/2 cup butter, divided
Dash of paprika (optional)

Ham Sauce:

1/4 cup leftover ham drippings
1/2 cup red wine or red grape juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (if using grape juice)
1/2 cup chicken stock


Prepare ham sauce by combining ham drippings, red wine (or grape juice and vinegar) and chicken stock. Whisk in cornstarch. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Lower heat and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes. Adjust thickness of sauce with additional cornstarch dissolved in chicken stock as necessary. Set aside.

Sauté ham slices in 1 tablespoon butter.

Sauté spinach in 1 tablespoon butter and 1 dash of garlic powder. Set aside.

Toast English muffins and spread with 1 tablespoon butter.

Poach eggs to desired doneness.

Assemble dish by placing English muffin halves on plate. Top with ham. Spoon ham sauce over ham.

Top with spinach, poached eggs, and Hollandaise sauce. Sprinkle paprika on top if desired.

Eggs Benedict Florentine, Polish, Adam,