Delicious Slovak And Serbian Traditional Easter Foods

Both my grandmothers have been gone from my life for over 40 years, but the impact their foods made on my life was strong. My grandparents from both the Serbian and Slovak sides of the family came from Europe in the early 1900s, bringing their knowledge of the foods and traditions along with them. Easter, along with Christmas, are the two holidays I associate with the most traditional foods.

Both sides of the family made traditional baskets of foods to take to their respective churches to be blessed. Though Slovakia and Serbia are not close to each other, the traditions of the area are very widespread. As the last Easter I may have spent with one of my grandparents was about 44 years ago, my personal memories are sketchy in some areas, and vivid in others. Lately, it has felt important to reach out to my siblings and learn what memories they might still have that are gone from my recollections.

The items traditionally placed in the basket of foods to be blessed are ham, sausage, egg cheese, bread, beets with horseradish, salt, butter, Easter eggs and a candle. There may be other things that were added. I recall the baskets being taken to church, but not too much more.

Traditional Foods

Some of the traditional foods that are less common here in the US are the beets with horseradish and the egg cheese. It seems lately that beets with horseradish recipes have been popping up all over. Not like the traditional one my grandma made, of course, but that combination suddenly has become apparent.

Beets with Horseradish

The recipe that my Serbian grandmother passed down was from grated cooked or canned beets, mixed with bottled horseradish to taste. The recipe amounts are fluid, depending on the size of family and how much horseradish one can tolerate. For two jars of beets, well drained and shredded, about 1 tablespoon of horseradish may be added. This amount may be increased or decreased as needed. A little sugar is added, from 1 to 3 teaspoons. All ingredients are mixed well, and then can be spooned into jars until needed.

This beet dish is used as a condiment, to go with the ham and other Easter foods. It can be used as a side dish on the plate, or it can be used on a sandwich of the traditional Easter Paska Bread with ham or sausage. The Serbian name of the beets and horseradish dish is not one I can recall. I have read that depending on the area it is from, this may be called Ren, Hren, Chrin and many other variations.

Egg Cheese

This particular dish is one that I firmly recall only being called by its Serbian name, Sirets. The pronunciation of this word is SEE rets, with the letter R trilled. It is one of the traditional foods I have never cared for, but my Dad just loved. Since my Mom never made it, I asked Grandma for her recipe so I could carry on the tradition.

She told me to take one quart of whole milk and a dozen eggs in a pan and mix them together really well, adding in a little bit of salt and sugar. Over time I have found that about 2 teaspoons each of the salt and sugar work well. The mixture is cooked slowly on the stove, stirring constantly, until the eggs begin to cook and separate. Once the mixture has completely separated, it is poured into a cheesecloth lined colander to drain. Once drained, the ends of the cheesecloth are brought together and tied, and the ball is hung to continue draining. Grandma hung the cheesecloth ball from her kitchen faucet. Once the egg cheese ball has cooled it is placed in the refrigerator to continue to firm and chill. When ready to eat, it is unwrapped from the cheesecloth and sliced.

Paska Bread

This rich butter and egg bread was made mainly for Christmas or Easter. My Slovak mom also made it for Thanksgiving. The bread is delightful, and I have made this recipe as our daily bread since the 1970s. It may have started as a traditional bread used only for these special feasts, but it is far too delicious to limit its use. I have now created a version that is easy to make in my heavy duty stand mixer. For Easter, the bread is braided, either in a ring shape, or a round loaf with a small braid on top or in a braided loaf.

Keeping traditions alive for your children is a worthwhile endeavor, giving them a sense of place in the world. It is not meant to divide or separate cultures, but to keep the foods in their purest state so they maintain their ability to stand out from the crowd in these days of fusion cooking.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I hope it was informative and helped you along your own culinary journey. You will find many more recipes and helpful tips on my web site. I am on Facebook at A Harmony of Flavors and share a recipe or tip each day to the fans that have liked my site. I hope to see you there soon.

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Deliciously Healthy Typical Guatemalan Foods

I recently wrote an article on Guatemalan enchiladas and how they are not at all like the Mexican enchiladas we know in the US. While a Guatemalan enchilada may be served on a fried tortilla, it is also piled high with wonderful vegetables, meat and egg. The use of vegetables like beets and cabbage, along with green beans and carrots give them a variety of vitamins. The tomato sauce used in the enchilada is homemade from tomatoes, tomatillos, onion and garlic. The meat is cooked and fried and offers protein, along with a slice of egg. The enchilada is served with a sprinkling of cheese and parsley. It is a delicious, nutritious salad on a plate.

Enchiladas are not the only typical Guatemalan food to be high in nutrition. Black beans are a staple food, eaten one to three times a day, offering lots of protein and fiber. The addition of rice and corn tortillas to that meal makes a complete protein. Plantains are also eaten at any meal, and used as a vegetable if green. When green, plantains are not very sweet or soft, so cooking them in water gives a slight sweetness, making an excellent side dish to any main course. A serving of plantain is higher in fiber, vitamin C and potassium than a serving of bananas. They are also used as a dessert, simply cooked when very ripe, or made into various dessert dishes.

One dessert made with plantains is frying slices and serving them in a mole sauce. Guatemalan mole sauce is made from tomatoes, tomatillos, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and cinnamon, with the addition of chocolate at the end. Using all the vegetables and seeds give a great addition of fiber to the diet, along with vitamins and minerals.
A common Guatemalan salad of minced radishes mixed with some chopped tomato, mint, onion and lime juice makes an extremely high flavor and low calorie dish, rich in fiber and vitamin C. Corn tortillas made from cooked field corn with the germ left in are high in fiber and vitamins and these are eaten up to three times a day.

Most any soup or thickened dish made in Guatemala is thickened with the use of shredded tortillas, bread, ground nuts or seeds, instead of flour. The various kinds of tamale eaten in Guatemala have their basis in either hominy or rice or a combination. As stated, the hominy, or cooked whole field corn, contains the whole kernel, with more nutritional value than a can of hominy without the germ. Any sauces added to the tamales are made by grinding together tomatoes, tomatillos, bell peppers, dried chiles, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, cinnamon and sometimes chocolate. These particular flavors are a common theme throughout Guatemalan foods.

Another type of tamale that is used as a treat for breakfast, dessert or any time of day is called tamalitos de helote. We all understand a tamale is usually corn, ground and wrapped into a corn husk or banana leaf and steamed. Helote is young corn not the sweet corn we know here in the US for corn on the cob, but field corn that has not matured to complete dryness. The kernels are removed from the cobs and ground, with sugar and cinnamon added for flavor. The green corn husks are used to wrap these little tamales, imparting a particular flavor and goodness. The use of the whole corn kernels in this dish is a healthier way of eating that a milled corn flour with the germ removed. My husband questioned, why not just slice the kernels from the cob and make the whole process easier? My answer is that the flavor and look would be different, and most of the nutrition would be left behind.

Guatemalan typical dishes may take time to prepare properly, but the end result with all the nutrition packed in is invaluable. I value highly all the complex and flavorful typical recipes I learned there over 30 years ago, and I use them to this day.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I hope it was informative and helped you along your own culinary journey. You will find many more recipes and helpful tips on my web site. I am on Facebook at A Harmony of Flavors and share a recipe or tip each day to the fans that have liked my site. I hope to see you there soon.

Facts About Ground Beef

Recipes for ground beef is best prepared with lean ground beef because is a cheap and easy obtainable ingredient thousands of quick ground beef recipes.

Ground beef is a world-wide staple ingredient. Its versatility adds infinite possibilities to an endless number of beef dishes and is simply beef that’s been ground or finely chopped, and it’s available in a range of prices depending on what beef cut it is from but it usually originates from the tougher parts of the animal, like the flank and chuck.

The process of grounding the meat acts as a tenderizer which is useful for the tougher meat from the standard beef cuts. This tenderizing process reduces the dryness of the fat and improves the flavor.

When all the ‘best’ cuts and joints have been removed then whatever is left can be what you get. A lot of the tougher parts are used like the skirt/belly etc.

But you can also go to your local butcher and say I want six of your finest steaks ground/minced for me he would gladly do it and charge you whatever the steaks would cost.

You have to be careful when buying ground beef because some butchers will keep braising /stewing beef until it begins to discolor slightly and if it does not sell by then the will mince/ground it.

The leanest — and most expensive per pound — is ground sirloin, which is sometimes labeled “extra lean.” Ground sirloin is more expensive than the other ground meat as it is a much tenderer and lean beef cut.

Next in line is the ground round, then ground chuck, and then regular “ground beef” or just plain “hamburger,” which is the highest in fat and the least expensive.

A question that gets asked a lot is: “What is the difference between ground beef and hamburger beef?” There is basically one major difference and that is that fat may be added to hamburger beef and no fat may be added to ground beef. Regulations stipulate that both varieties cannot contain more that 30% fat. Seasoning may be added to both but no phosphates, binders, extenders or water is allowed to be added.

The lower the fat content, the less flavorful the meat will be when cooked. You might even have to add fat to the pan to cook extra lean ground beef since so little is rendered during cooking.

You might want to consider using the least expensive, regular ground beef in dishes that require you to brown the meat, because you can drain off most of the fat but still keep the beefy flavor.

I have listed some of the best ground beef recipes on this site. Please try a few (or all of them) and do not be shy to leave a comment about the once you have tried.

If you’re like most cooks, you can’t have too many ground beef recipes.

Ventless Propane Heaters – Smart Purchase For Your Home

Regulating the flow of propane is very easily done by having a regulator in the circuit that controls the flow of propane flowing thru the nozzle. That means you can control the temperature of the flame. This facility is especially useful in case of cooking appliances also for heating systems, whereas for other kinds of fuels the temperature control isn’t so fine.

Swimming pools which need heating, saunas and hot water tubs can be heated by propane gas as a very easy to use answer and offers quick heating that is essential in these sorts of applications. Other fuels would take longer to heat water.

Appliances utilizing propane as fuel are very easy to operate. These appliances are so devised that even individuals who have never handled such devices can effortlessly make out how you can operate the equipment. Even replacing an empty container with a filled one is extremely easy.

Replacing all the cooking systems or central heating systems inside your home may not be a waste of cash if you are questioning whether or not the resource propane will final long since it is found in abundance naturally as well as it can be produced from raw material in big scale.

Removing and reaffixing a fresh container of propane from any home appliance is extremely easy. The only weight is that of the metal of which the canister is created of. In most cases there would be a lock to release the container from the device and a lock to lock it in location when replacing.

Clothes dryers utilizing propane as a fuel are less expensive and have low operational price also. They’re also capable of drying the clothes a lot quicker than other models of dryers which save a great deal of time drying clothes.

Grills working on electricity to cook food might need to be used near a home or a power outlet to ensure that it may be used which also limits the range of locations where you are able to have a barbeque. Grills working on propane can easily be moved to any region as per convenience for the whole family to appreciate together.

Poppy Seeds. Part Of My Ethnic Background

Everyone knows that poppy seeds come from the opium poppy, papaver somniferum. Opium comes from milking the unripe seed pods. These seeds come from fully ripened pods, and while all parts of the plant can carry the opium alkaloids, the seeds contain an extremely low level of opiates and are safe for consumption. That said, be aware that if international travel or a drug test is on the horizon, one should avoid any foods with poppy seeds, as they can cause a false positive reading.

The opium poppy is native to the Middle Eastern lands and has been known and used for nearly 5,000 years. Poppy seeds have long been known as a remedy to aid sleep, as well as promoting fertility. The seeds are oily, and some cultures grind them to a paste and apply to the skin as a moisturizer. The seeds are also pressed to form poppy seed oil, for culinary, industrial and medicinal uses. There are two main types of seeds. Black seeds, actually a slate blue in color, are most known as European, because they are the kind used most in western breads and pastries. White seeds are known generally as Indian, Middle Eastern or Asian, as they are more often used in these cuisines. Both blue and white seeds come from the same plant, though the white seeds come from a white flowering cultivar.

In the Western parts of the world, black seeds are used mainly in pastries and confections, although they are also added to noodles or pasta and vegetable dishes. They are best known sprinkled on breads or buns, in poppy seed cakes, and Danish pastries. Lemon poppy seed cakes and muffins are extremely popular and delicious. Poppy seeds and honey are a great combination. Hamantash, well-known Jewish pastries, are traditional during Purim. I had the great pleasure of tasting these cookie-like treats. White seeds are most known in Indian and Asian cuisines, used ground as a thickener for curries and sauces. They are also used in some curry powder mixtures.

As my ethnic background is east central European, with my grandparents from Slovakia and what is now Serbia, I grew up enjoying poppy seed pastries. Most traditionally at Christmas time, my Slovakian grandmother made Kolach, a rich yeast dough rolled with a thick, sweet poppy seed filling. I have many fond memories of unrolling the pastry and eating small strips at a time, until reaching the center, where the filling was thickest. My Serbian grandmother made poppy seed strudel at any time of the year, but at Christmas she made Bobalky. I have seen Bobalky described in many ways, but hers was made with small bread balls, soaked in water, with ground poppy seeds and honey added in. These two variations of poppy seed desserts have meant Christmas to me since my earliest years.

Food memories are some of the strongest, and we carry lifelong loves of certain foods with us throughout our lives. For me, poppy seeds have been a food memory associated with family, convivial visits and sharing, laughter and gaiety, and bring back warm memories of so many wonderful Christmases gone by.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I hope it was informative and helped you along your own culinary journey. You will find many more recipes and helpful tips on my web site. I am on Facebook at A Harmony of Flavors and share a recipe or tip each day to the fans that have liked my site. I hope to see you there soon.