The world lost The King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, on August 16, 1977. Tragic and untimely loss. As a young fan, I wept.
One year later and one day later on August 17, 1978, I lost the King of my world, Joseph A. Rydyznski. Heart-rending and sudden loss. As a young daughter, I was quietly devastated.
Born to Polish immigrants in the early 1920s, Joseph Rydyznski, was the one of four. The family lived in Toledo, Ohio (USA) and when the Great Depression gripped the country’s economy, life became even more challenging for the Rydyznski Family. He lost his parents in the mid 1930s and he was placed at the Lucas County Children’s Home. Released from the home, at the age of 14 years, he found a way to join the Marines, although underage. Spending numerous years in the military, Joe grew up “Semper Fi.” The Marine Corps principles and values were fixed for life.
Honor. Courage. Commitment. Joe embodied those traits while serving his country , as a husband and as a father. His life was not easy, but he rose to meet each and every challenge. Silently, he taught me as he lead by example. He had hoped that I grow up to be like my mother, but I’m pleased report that I’m really my father’s daughter.
However…I did not inherit my father’s appreciation of nor taste for oily fish-in-a-tin sardines or smelly-feet odiferous Limburger cheese.
With strong ties to his Polish heritage, it’s odd I don’t recall meals featuring Polish cookery. As I began to climb the Rydyznski Family Tree, I discovered a simple fact. Food is a direct reflection of culture and heritage. That heritage is rich in childhood memories, thick with the history and stories of those that came before and cooked before!
Capturing and preserving that heritage…those stories…produced the idea for Recipe Book Rescue. According to the Food Museum and its Global Food Heritage Project, “As we lose our connection with our food, and with the people who grow and process it, we lose much of our cultural history and identity.”
There are so many flavors and layers of complexity to Polish cuisine. It is so much more than the seasonal Pączek (donut) and Borsch (tart beet soup). In attempt to keep my cultural history and identity alive, I’m pleased to share a few noteworthy heritage recipes found in Poland’s best-selling cookbook (adapted for American kitchens), Polish Cookery by Marja Ochorowicz-Monatowa.
Sauerkraut Soup (Kapuśniak)
- 1 lb. sauerkraut
- 1/2 lb. pork meat (head or rump) marrow bone
- 8 cups cold water
- 1 med. onion (preferably baked)
- Soup greens consisting of 1 celery root, 1 parsley root, 1 parnsip, 2 carrots, 1-2 celery stalks, few sprigs of parsley
- 4-6 dried mushrooms
- 1 bay leaf (optional)
- 6 peppercorns
- 2 strips bacon or equivalent amount of salt pork, diced
- 1/2 med. onion, diced
- 1 tbs. flour, browned
- 1 lump sugar (optional)
- 1-2 frankfurters or several slices salami, diced (optional)
Cover sauerkraut, meat and marrow bone with cold water. Boil and skim. Add baked onion, soup greens and mushrooms and let simmer, skimming as necessary, for at least 2 hours. When meat is soft remove from bones and cut into small pieces; cut mushrooms into strips. Remove marrow from marrow bones. Strain soup or not, according to preference. Return meat, mushrooms and marrow to pot.
In heavy skillet, brown the bacon (or salt pork) together with diced onion and browned flour, adding stock a little at a time until lumps are dissolved. Add to soup and boil up once. Season to taste, adding sugar if soup is too sharp. Add diced frankfurters if desired. Serves 8.
Roe and Milt Patties (Paszteciki Mleczka i Ikry)
- 1/2 lb. of roe, milt and fish livers, mixed
- Vegetable soup stock to cover
- 1/2 med. onion, minced
- 3 tbs. butter
- 1 tbs. flour
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- Salt and pepper, totaste
- 2 tbs. bread crumbs
Cook the roe and other fish parts in soup stock for about 10 minutes. Dice or chop coarsely. Simmer the chopped onion in 1 tbs. butter until transparent. Blend in flour, add 2 to 3 tbs. stock and blend until smooth. Add sour cream and season sauce to taste. Add fish and mix thoroughly and fill shells (or ramekins) with the mixture. Brown bread crumbs in remaining butter, sprinkle over the top and put back in hot oven for 10 minutes. Serves 2 to 3.
Ragout of Frog Legs (Ragout z żabie Udka)
- 16 pairs frog legs
- Flour for dusting
- 3 tbs. butter
- 4 mrd. mushrooms, sliced thin
- 1/4 lb. sweetbreads
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/4 cup bouillon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
- Lemon slices
Wash, dry and salt the frog legs. Dust with flour and fry in half the butter to a light, golden brown. Arrange tightly in saucepan, add sliced mushrooms, the sweebreads cut in small pieces, the rest of the butter, the wine and bouillon. Season to taste and simmer tightly covered for 30 minutes. Arrange frog legs on a hot platter. Combine pan liquid with egg yolks, stirring in a little at a time and taking care not to curdle. Pour this sauce over the frog legs and garnsih with lemon slices. Serves 4.
Mashed Turnips and Potatoes (Rzepa Purée i Ziemniaki)
- 1lb. turnips, diced
- 2 cups borth (or less)
- 1 lb. potatoes, sliced
- 2-3 slices well-done bacon, crumbled
- Bacon fat
- Salt and pepper to taste
Simmer turnips until half done (15 – 20 minutes) in broth saved from cooking ham or made with vegetables and a ham bone. Add potatoes and continue simmering until both are done. Drain, mash, season and serve topped with crumbled bacon and bacon fat. Serves 6.
Black Bread Pudding (Czarny Chleb Pudding)
- 6 eggs, separated
- 6 tbs. sugar
- 1 cup bread crumbs made from black bread (pumpernickel)
- 1/4 tsp. powdered cloves
- Cinnamon to taste
- 1 tsp. melted butter
- Bread crumbs and butter
Cream egg yolks and sugar until white. Add bread crumbs, cinnamon, cloves and the melted butter. Mix thotoughly and fold in stiffly-beaten egg whites. Line buttered pan with bread crumbs and pour in the mixture. Bake in 350-degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Serve with whipped cream or whipped sour cream.
Hot Beer (Piwo Grzane)
- 4 cups beer
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 4-6 cloves
- 6 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar
Combine beer, cinnamon and cloves. Cover and bring to a boil. Cream egg yolk and sugar until creamy and light. Strain beer and slowly pour hot liquid into egg yolk mixture, beating constantly to avoid curdling., Beat until frothy. Serve at once. Serves 4.
Podnieść toast za Józefa Rydyznski! Przegapiłeś są każdego dnia.