Share Your MOMent: Making Memories and Pierogies

April 28th, 2016 by Diane Knowlton

In celebration of Mother’s Day, we asked Wilton employees to share some special memories and stories. For many of us, our moms – or someone who is like a mom to us – piqued our interest in baking. Who did you learn from? What special memories do you have? Or, are you a mom who enjoys baking with her kids? In this series, we will feature a different story each day. We hope you enjoy reading the stories of those who chose to share their MOMent!

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Coming from Eastern European backgrounds (my dad is Polish, my mom was Czech), food has always been a part of my family.  We grew up having two to three kinds of meat served at the table as well as potatoes, noodles, and breads; not to mention all the desserts.  As children, we were always in the kitchen, helping Busia (grandma) with making potato pancakes, pierogies, strudels, kolachys, and all sorts of delectables.  I can definitely say that my love of baking and cooking came from my grandmothers and my mom.  Both grandmothers cooked and baked, but it was my mother’s mom, Busia, that I learned from the most.

I have fond memories, as a child, of driving up from Florida to visit my Mom’s mother in Chicago and walking into her flat to the smell of yeast.  She was always baking something, didn’t matter what the occasion or time of day.  To this day, whenever I smell yeast, I remember her.

From left to right: Grandma Lawdanski (paternal grandmother), Diane, Diane’s mother holding Diane’s daughter, Jacqui, and Busia Ferencik (maternal grandmother). Both grandmothers cooked and baked, but Diane learned the most from Busia.

One special memory I have is Christmas time.  All the women (girls included) would gather in the kitchen and we would begin the process of making pierogies for Christmas Eve dinner.  My mother and aunts would make the various fillings; my grandmother would make the dough.  We would flour the kitchen table and she would begin the process of rolling out the dough.  Then my cousin and sister would cut out the circles of dough, using a wide mouth glass.  Next came the fillings, and we had: sauerkraut, potatoes, cheese, mushroom/onion and even plum, but no meat since back then we didn’t eat meat on Christmas Eve (don’t know why, just always was). The favorite was the mushroom/onion ones. My job was to crimp the edges after they were pinched closed.  We still don’t know how I came to know how to braid the edges, but I was the only one who knew how.  It was nothing for us to make 200 to 300 pierogies, and that was for just 10 to 12 people!  To this day, my one brother still boasts how he ate 75 pierogies at one sitting!

The tradition of making pierogies with the women of the family is still ongoing.   As new family members continue the tradition, new filling flavors have been introduced: lobster, mushroom/garlic, spinach/feta cheese, and many more. My sister and sister-in-law still make them with their girls.  When my brother moved up here from Florida, it fell to me to make the pierogies for Christmas Eve dinner. I would have my daughter help me from the time that she was about 7. We would make the mushroom/onion ones for my brother, his family and me, and cheeseburger ones for the rest of the family. We obviously didn’t keep up the tradition of no meat!  We also pared down the amounts to only about 100. Now some 25 years later, we will still set aside a day before Christmas Eve to make the pierogies. The only difference now is my 2 year old granddaughter who sits around the table with us, “helping”.

 Pierogies:
2-3 Tbsp oil
2 whole eggs
2 Tbsp sour cream
¼ cup water
½ tsp salt
2 ½ cup flour

Blend all ingredients into a food processor, pulse until dough comes together. If dough is crumbly add 1 tsp of sour cream. Let sit 15 minutes prior to rolling.

 

Mushroom/onion filling:
1lb. mushroom, chopped
1 med. Onion, chopped
¼ stick of butter

Melt butter in a sauté pan.  Add mushroom and onion.  Saute until all moisture is absorbed.  Salt and pepper to taste, cool.

 

Topping:
¼ cup of butter melted
2 green onions chopped or ½ cup of breadcrumbs

Roll dough thin.  Cut out with wide mouth glass or cookie cutter.  Place 1 -1 ½ tsp of filling in center.  Brush the edges of circle with water and seal by pressing edges together.  You can use a fork to press into edge to insure complete seal.

Bring to a boil a large pot of salted water.  Place filled pierogies into the water, don’t crowd.  When the pierogies float to the top, remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm.

Drizzle melted butter over pierogies and sprinkle with green onions or breadcrumbs.  Serve with sour cream.

Diane Knowlton Diane has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Biology, but when Diane’s sister-in-law gave her a birthday gift of a Wilton yearbook and basic decorating tools, never did either of them realize that she was sending Diane down the path of her lifetime career. That gift led Diane to attend basic decorating classes, to more advance classes, to teaching the Wilton Method and finally as a decorator in the Wilton decorating room. Diane has been at Wilton since 1996. Diane is involved with Samoyed Rescue, fostering many Samoyeds until they find their forever home. Kayla is a rescue that Diane’s family has adopted.

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