Monday, June 20, 2011


The Slavs of Youngstown did themselves proud on Saturday holding the first ever "Simply Slavic" celebration on the Federal Plaza downtown.  It was a day of wonderful ethnic foods, imported beers and music!  They even had a baking contest with the winners being old family favorites like pagach and bow-tie cookies!  The organizers hope to make this a yearly event!

I spent an enjoyable time talking to two ladies from McDonald, Ohio, whose father had played in a Croatian band when they were growing up.  This reminded me of my own Grandpa Trubich and how he would sit and listen to recordings of Croatian music and become sentimental for the "old country."  He would dab his eyes with a white hanky and when I asked him why he was crying, he would just smile and tell me he was "remembering." 

Thank you Simply Slavic for bringing back that memory for me!  Best of luck for all future events!

Monday, June 13, 2011


It's been raining here in Northeastern Ohio now for some time!  Our garden was 2 weeks delayed in planting due to standing water and the soil being so saturated, it was unable to be tilled! 

This year's garden is much like those of the past, ie Parkwood gardens.  We have 12 tomato plants, 16 pepper plants of different varieties, zucchini, yellow summer squash, eggplants, onions, garlic and herbs.   Each year we say we will not plant as much, just enough for the table and each year we over plant!  One addition this year is a tip-of-the-hat to my husband craving for Creole - - okra!

Still, by the end of summer we will have the ingredients for homemade marinara sauce which we can jar and use all winter long!  Let me share with you my mother's recipe for home canned tomato sauce.  I found it written on a scrap piece of paper, tucked inside one of her old cookbooks recently.  Not sure why she put it in pint jars when she had 6 people to feed but that's what the recipe says!


3 cups of sliced onions
2 cups of diced green pepper
2/3 c olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
3 quarts of finely chopped, seeded and peeled tomatoes
2 t. of salt
1 t. each of rosemary, thyme and basil.

In a large kettle saute onions and peppers in oil until onions are tender.  Add garlic and saute 3 minutes more.  Add the rest of the ingredients.  Simmer uncovered on low heat for 3 hours or until thick, stirring often.  Pour into 1 pint sterilized jars, leaving 1 inch of head space and seal.  Process at #15 pounds of pressure for 25 minutes.  Can also be frozen for up to 3 months without processing.

Monday, June 6, 2011


I’ll be posting recipes that didn’t make it into the book, not because they weren’t good but due to the fact that I already had something similar in there.  One of my favorites is a real memory maker, it is Sacher Tort.  I understand that my Grandmother Beckes used to make this with orange marmalade that she “put up” herself.  She was of German-Hungarian descent and this cake hails from Germany.


For the cake:
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
3 ounces butter
4 egg yolks
1 ounce sugar
, plus 3 ounces
5 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup flour, sifted

For The Marmalade Filling:

1 1/2 cups orange marmalade
1 tablespoon orange liquor (my addition!)

For the Glaze:

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
1 ounce butter
2 ounces heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Butter and flour a 9 by 2-inch cake pan. (Use the wrapper from the butter you are using in the recipe to butter the pan!)

Mix the chocolate and butter in a glass bowl set over barely simmering water.   Set aside to cool. Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whisk the egg yolks with 1 ounce sugar until light and fluffy. Pour in the chocolate mixture and blend until well incorporated.

Beat the egg whites and salt in a different bowl until they form soft peaks. Add the remaining 3 ounces of sugar, pouring it in slowly. Beat until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold in the flour and then fold in 1/2 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture.  Don’t over mix!  Fold in the remaining egg whites, gently until they are completely incorporated.  Again, please don’t over mix.  Pour into prepared cake pan.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.  Test the cake with a wood skewer.  When it is done, the skewer will come out clean.  Set on a rack to cool.

For the filling, thin the marmalade with the liquor.  If it is not spreadable at this stage, a little hot water can be added, a few drops at a time, until it is.

Now this is where my Grandmother’s recipe differs from most I’ve seen.  She sliced the cake into 2 layers and spread half of the filling on the bottom layer and half on what is to be the top of the tort.  She then made the chocolate glaze by combining the chocolate and butter, melting it over a double boiler.  She placed the cream in a little pot and brought it just to a boil.  She added this to the melted chocolate and took it off the fire.   She would then put the cake in the “icebox” and wait for a while, until the glaze was spreadable.  She would then take the cooled cake from the “icebox” spread it with the glaze around the sides but not on top and put it back in the “icebox” until after dinner was over.


Well, you know I thought I’d have a bit of a rest once my book proposal was in.  NOT!  Now I have to start testing the recipes that I’ve included in the book.  Oh, the book. . .you probably want to know more about it.
It’s called (unless upon acceptance they change the title on me!) Melting Pot:  Memories and Recipes From a Steel Town.  You see, I grew up in a suburb of a big steel making center, in a neighborhood where you could play out of doors all summer and not come home until the street lights were on.  Where ever you were at 5 pm is where you ate dinner.  If you were playing at your house with friends, then they stayed to dinner there.
The ethnic variety of our neighborhood included Polish, Hungarian, Croatian, Ukrainian, Serbian and Italian families.  All of these countries were at one time at war with one another in Europe, but all that was forgotten in my old neighborhood.  It is called Parkwood and, it was an amazing place to be a kid.
One of my earliest memories is visiting our neighbor Marie or “The Serb” as my father called her.  She had no children and I think she enjoyed my company.  I happened to run my finger across a windowsill in her house and when I raised my hand to look at it, my finger was black with soot.  When I asked Marie why my finger was black, she just looked at me very seriously and said, “That means men are working.”  And it did.  All of our fathers worked in some capacity in the mills and when the mills were booming, the dust and ash that was spewed from the blast furnaces coated everything with a fine, black dust.  The women of Parkwood prided themselves on being immaculate housekeepers.  It was as though by cleaning the soot away, they could see the future, when their men did not have to go into dangerous working conditions, day after day.  That day came in the mid-1970s.  All of the mills closed within hours of each other, the men were sent home and the silence was deafening.