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I debated on whether or not to write this for a while. Mostly because I don’t think that anyone really needs (another) recipe for meatballs – but you seemed to like this Instagram photo, and I wanted to talk about Sunday Dinner, again.
I meant to go into that concept more here, but I rambled about a lot of other happenings instead. I am glad I did though, because that post is kind of close to my heart. This one is going to be too.
While I’ve mentioned it at least 20x in the history of this blog, here is the full scoop on what Sunday Dinner meant to me when I was growing up:
Each week at noon, my parents, sister, and myself, as well as my Aunt, Uncle, and cousins – along with anyone else from the neighborhood that had been invited along the way – were required to be at my Grandma’s house. You had to be “dressed”. Not as in fancy dressed, but the leggings and loose tops that I throw on most days now, probably wouldn’t have passed muster then. No one really had a cell phone at that time (Save for the Zack Morris style clunker that my Dad kept in his car), but even so, there was no technology allowed. If the land line rang, you didn’t answer it, and the TV definitely wasn’t on. I vividly remember my Dad and Uncle begging to “just check the scores” of football games on many occasions. They never won out.
None of that was because my Grandma was super strict or uptight. She was anything but, and to this day remains one of the kindest, most generous, sweetest people I have ever met. She was first and foremost a “lady”. She deeply valued tradition and her goal in starting this one with us was simply to get everyone together to prepare a meal, share it, and connect.
I figured that if we were talking about roasting a chicken this week, then we may as well talk about bone broth too. Bone broth is essentially a hybrid between a traditional broth (water simmered with vegetables, aromatics, and meats) and stock (water simmered with vegetables, aromatics, and bones – sometimes roasted, and sometimes with meat still attached); as explained very well in this article via epicurious. The base of bone broth becomes slightly gelatinous as the ingredients simmer for several hours, or up to a full day.
This stuff has definitely been trending in the last year or so, and as a result, I have seen a lot of debate as to terminology (i.e., above), how to make it, and the overall efficacy of its health benefits. I am not going to tackle that last part, but I will tell you a few reasons as to why I am really into it instead:
- Bone broth is incredibly simple to make. Throw everything in a large pot, boil, reduce, and strain. I love that this “recipe” basically becomes a catchall for scraps we might otherwise waste. I also like to pack some extra punch in mine by adding turmeric (anti-inflammatory), apple cider vinegar, and fresh lemon juice. I will typically drink it plain, but occasionally dress it up with extra vegetables (I like thinly sliced radishes on top for bite.) or use it as the base of another dish.
- Sipping on a cup of it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I think it goes back to being sick as a kid, when my Mom would make me a bowl of extra broth-y chicken soup (Errr…If my Dad was taking care of me, a bowl of “Mrs. Grass”. That was and still is his jam!). I instantly felt better.
- It fills me up! This is a random thing, but I work from home, and when I am working or in a good groove with a particular project, I really don’t like to stop and eat. Yet I am always hungry. : ) Sipping on a cup of this broth is a good way to keep those vibes flowing, yet still nourish myself.
This weekend, I plan on cooking my usual Sunday Dinner and turning the leftovers into this. I have also been reading a ton lately (I just finished Love Style Life by Garance Dore. It was quick, cute, insightful, and included some pretty sage advice from one of the best in the blogging business!) and am going to tackle Big Magic in the next couple of days (With a cup of broth in hand, obviously!). If you have any other book suggestions, please send them along! I think we may need to start a club!
My family is a very sociable bunch. It’s common for my Dad especially to chat up new people, and when we are dining, invite those people to eat with us, or in the very least to join our conversation. I love it, and him for showing me how to live with an open heart.
It came as no surprise then when having a drink at a bar recently, my father started chatting with a couple seated across from us. Before long, it felt as if the two were old friends, as in-between sips of wine, we discussed things like a mutual dislike for eggs (Me and the woman we met; there is something about the texture that both of us agreed we have never been able to get past!) and our favorite restaurants in the area. An otherwise quiet work night, the bartender had been periodically chiming in, and at this point mentioned one of his favorite watering holes; he said he loved that the place had a “Pierogi Night” every Tuesday, and that he thought they [the pierogi] were especially good there. To which one of our new acquaintances replied “Good, but not as good as the ones my wife makes.”
I watched as my Polish/Ukrainian Mom knowingly smiled, because she too can churn out some excellent homemade pierogi. Soon, our talk turned to cooking methods, preferred fillings (Potato; potatoes always win!), and holiday traditions. The woman told us how every Christmas Eve, she and her daughters start early in the morning, and together they prepare dozens and dozens of filled dumplings for their extended family. She talked about it being an event that all three of them look forward to throughout the year, and proudly mentioned that her girls had even taught some of their friends from college how to make the pierogi in their dorm rooms. It was so sweet to see her beaming with pride.
My Mom and I decided right then and there that we were going to adopt the same tradition. So here I am today, sharing our time-honored recipe with you – which my mother learned from her mother who learned from her mother before – in the hope that perhaps you might want to try it too!
When it comes to preferred pierogi fillings, allegiances tend to vary between sweet and savory varieties. I for one am a fan of both sweet blueberry versions as well as savory cabbage versions. My favorite, however, will always be a classic potato and cheese combination. The potato – or 9th Wonder of the World – is seasoned with salt and a generous sprinkle of black pepper, mashed, and combined with Farmer Cheese. I like to use red potatoes in this case as they have a nice semi-firm texture and a mild sugariness to them, which is a perfect complement to the cheese. To these ingredients I add a sauteed leek, and several sprigs of fresh dill for a spin on the standard. Once the filling is wrapped in a noodle-like dough, the individual pierogi are boiled and placed in a pool of warm butter – or pan-fried and browned with a few additional leeks. You cannot go wrong with either preparation!
And, as I was standing in my kitchen preparing this batch, with my Mom next to me – mash, stuff, pinch, repeat – I felt very excited; to eat all of the potato deliciousness coming our way, and to embrace our newfound tradition for years to come!
Visit the US Potato Board for more creative potato recipes for your holiday table!