For Amy Soloway (Solowij), being in the kitchen with her mother, Eveleen is a cherished memory. It was filled with laughter, lessons and of course, good food. Her mother embraced the Ukrainian culture of her husband, passing on recipes and traditions and memories.
Making food and my mother has always been synonymous for me. There are so many scents and tastes that bring me right back to her. If I smell fresh tomato vines I am instantly transported to helping her in the huge vegetable garden we had when I was growing up. When I make her pie crust recipe I even feel like her, like my hands could be hers, rolling out the dough. I have beautiful memories of her making food and the house dresses she always wore when we were kids (she only started wearing pants in her 70s). Also, when I close my eyes I can still see her beige-coloured “footlets” in comfy canvas shoes.
I think pyrohy is the thing that makes me feel the closest to her. While she was not Ukrainian, my father was, she took on his customs and recipes as much as she could. That was who she was. Selfless, thoughtful, hard working. If I am half the human she was, I am doing well.
Pyrohy is the Ukrainian word for perogies. To my knowledge, the dish is exactly the same, just a different name. My mother mostly made potato and cheese filling and also cottage cheese (with the occasional stewed prune filling too – looove that one). I have branched out and created some different ones along the way (they are, after all, dumplings – let your imagination go!)
My mom passed in early 2019 and I know life will never be the same without her. I miss her every day. But when I cook, I feel she is with me. Grounded, peaceful, and connected to her.
Pyrohy (perogy) dough
6 C flour
2.5 C lukewarm water
5 tbsp oil
Mix together. Knead until firm but still pliable. Place in a greased bowl and put a bit of oil on top of the dough. Cover with a tea towel for 20 mins.
Prepare a large pot of water. Bring to a rolling bowl.
After 20 mins. roll the dough into squares or circles of the desired size and fill with whatever filling you want! Tightly seal/pinch each dumpling closed (making sure all air is out of the inside or else they will bust open) and place in the boiling water. The dumplings will float when they are finished. Remove from boiling water with a slotted spoon then put some butter/oil on the outsides of each pyrohy, so they do not stick to each other while cooling.
Serve with sour cream, bacon bits, fresh green onion and/or fried onions.