Ukrainian Halushki (Halusky)

This is a favorite dish of the early Polish, Ukrainian, and Slovak immigrants to North America that is still enjoyed today. You will probably find it on the menu if you attend a block party, church bazaar, or county fair in northeastern Pennsylvania coal country. This is authentic Russian comfort food that is so simple to make with everyday ingredients. I rarely go a month without making halushki, because if I do they will start asking for it. Even today, halushki evokes warm memories of our grandmother, my mother, and her sisters cooking, laughing, and feeding the hoards together. If my mother had a head of cabbage, she could feed an army!

Halushki served with vegan sausage and applesauce

Today we try to eat healthier than the original recipes that were handed down to me, but I still want the flavor and the memories. Originally butter was a big part of any Russian meal, but I swapped that out for grapeseed oil and steamed the cabbage and onion instead of frying for lower fat and calories. This recipe is not complicated at all.

Ingredients:

1 head of fresh green cabbage (chopped, not shredded). Discard the bitter core.

1 large onion, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbsp. grapeseed oil

Place the grapeseed oil in the bottom of a very large pot. Add the chopped cabbage and onion, seasoning each layer with salt and pepper as you add more. You don’t need to add any water, because the cabbage and onion contain enough water to steam the vegetables. Steam and stir occasionally until the mixture cooks down to about half the original volume. (HINT: if you add a couple teaspoons of vinegar you will greatly reduce the cabbage smell that will surely fill your house if you don’t).

Cabbage and onions steaming.

Ingredients for Drop Noodles:

2 cups flour

1 tsp. salt (I used Himalayan pink salt)

2 large eggs

warm water: 1/2 – 3/4 cup

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl

Make a well in the center and add the eggs. In the same bowl whip up the eggs with a fork, gradually incorporating the flour/salt mixture a little at a time until it looks crumbly. Add just enough warm water to make a soft sticky dough (approximately 1/2 – 3/4 cups water).

Slide the mixture by spoonfuls into the boiling water. (This is the easiest and simplest way to do it. Some people insist that you need a “spaetzel maker,” but that is totally unnecessary. I use two large soup spoons — one holds a portion of dough and the other scrapes bits of dough off the spoon and into the boiling water). Work fast and repeat the process until the noodles are all in the water.

Cook noodles for 10 minutes and drain in a colander. Add the drained noodles to the cabbage/onion mixture and serve.

In a separate pot: noodles cooking in boiling water for 10 minutes.
Dinner is served!

September 6th is National Read a Book Day!

This is one “holiday” we can all celebrate and enjoy together. I can’t think of a single day in my life when a book hasn’t been in my hands. Books can expand your mind, open new worlds to explore, and feed your spirit.

Need some quiet time alone? Relax with a book. Doing research? There’s a book on that topic. Is it time to build a better you? Answers can be found in books. Trying to get a child to go to bed? Books can help with that, too!

Here are a couple of suggestions so you can get a headstart on National Read a Book Day.

You can find these books on Amazon now, read sample pages, and have them in your hands by September 6. Just click on the links:

SMASHING IDOLS: http://www.amazon.com/dp/173758641X

Peeling Potatoes: Katie’s Story: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1737586436

I hope you enjoy everyone’s holiday on September 6th, and know that I will be reading with you!

Barley Mushroom Casserole (Tsar-kasha)

Because I am working on a new book series for middle grade children that focuses on early 20th Century eastern European immigrants to North America where life was hard and childhood was short, I currently have a special interest in Russian/Ukrainian cuisine. Both of my grandfathers worked in the coal mines of northeastern Pennsylvania during that era, so some of these recipes have been passed down through the generations. I am resurrecting a few favorites from my childhood and experimenting with them to fit a meat-free plant-based lifestyle.

This is a simple Russian/Ukrainian peasant recipe that I have adapted from the original to be vegan. I am including the original ingredients in parentheses so you can choose the version you prefer. This was an easy recipe to adapt because it was already vegetarian. I just made a few minor adjustments to make it vegan.

Ingredients:

2/3 cup finely chopped onion

3 Tbsp grapeseed oil (or 6 Tbsp butter)

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 lb fresh sliced mushrooms (these were traditionally hand-picked in the forest, but you can just use sliced white mushrooms from the grocery store as I did here)

3 cups water

1 cup regular barley

3 tsps instant vegetable bouillon granuals or “Better Than Bouillon-No Chicken Base” (or instant chicken bouillon or regular chicken broth)

1/4 cup snipped fresh parsley

1 tsp dried basil leaves

1/2 tsp salt (optional)

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Method:

In a large pot combine the onion, oil, garlic, and mushrooms. Cover and cook on medium, stirring occasionally, just until the onion is tender.

Stir in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer, cover and cook until barley is tender. Stir occasionally and add more water if needed.

Remove from heat and let stand covered for 5 minutes.

This simple recipe yeids 8 -10 side dish servings or 4 – 5 maindish servings.

My mother would have served this with ground redbeets mixed with horseradish, but I really dislike that concoction. I served it with a side of whole cranberry sauce instead and roasted vegetables. Serve as you like.

If you are interested in learning about the early 1900’s coal mine experience as seen through a child’s eyes, then please check out my new book, “Peeling Potatoes: Katie’s Story” on Amazon. Available in Paperback or eBook: https://amazon.com/dp/B0B4KTJL3F

New! About Jayne M Booth, Author of “SMASHING IDOLS: Transform Your Body, Mind and Spirit with a Plant-Based Lifestyle.”

Jayne M Booth has always loved reading and writing. At 16, she started working as a waitress at Percy Brown’s Restaurant in Wilkes-Barre, PA. She is a certified Health Minister. She helps individuals enjoy a healthy whole-food plant-based lifestyle. She likes to paint, dance, hike, and read to anyone who will listen. Read full interview…

The Greenhouse Cafe, 18 State Hill Rd. Wyomissing, PA 19610, Phone: (484)509-2121

We visited The Greenhouse Cafe in Wyomissing, PA last weekend. What an enjoyable experience! It isn’t often you find a restaurant where all the food is plant-based, so we were in breakfast heaven when we saw their menu. The friendly staff will greet you with a warm welcome and offer to answer any questions you may have. Have any special dietary requirements? Eating gluten-free? They will try to accommodate your request.

We both chose the Tofu Scramble, which came with a side of breakfast potatoes, because we were so hungry. (I apologize for digging in before taking the photo, a very bad habit of mine). This hearty Tofu Scramble will fill you up with no cholesterol to sabotage your diet.

Hot or iced, a non-dairy Matcha Tea Latte is my favorite breakfast drink, because it’s a delicious way to start the day with healthy greens. This matcha latte did not disappoint, and the guilt-free caffeine kick was just what I needed to face the long drive home that morning.

The Greenhouse Cafe offers a casual, relaxed atmosphere. You may choose to dine inside in airconditioned comfort, or outside on the sunny patio (pet friendly). They are open for breakfast and lunch 8 AM – 3 PM most days, close at 6 PM on Wednesday and Friday (closed Monday). You will notice and appreciate the effort that has been put into making sure this cafe truly is green in every way. Food is healthy and prices are reasonable.

To learn more about The Greenhouse Cafe, view their full menu and more photos, please visit them online: http://www.thegreenhousecafepa.com