Wigilia Samotnych

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wieczerza Wigilijna

Jest taki dzien, zwykly dzien, w ktorym gasna wszyskie spory. Jest taki dzien, w ktorym radosc wita wszystkich. Dzien, ktory juz kazdy z nas zna od kolyski. Niebo ziemi, niebu ziemia – wszyscy wszystkim sla zyczenia. Drzewa ptakom, ptaki drzewom… Jest taki dzien, tylko jeden, raz do roku; dzien, gdy jestesmy wszyscy razem…

Wszyscy razem? A przeciez wlasnie myslisz o tym, ze znow bedziesz sam… Wlasnie w Boze Narodzenie… Wlasnie w wigilie… Czy bedzie ci przykro, kiedy zablysnie pierwsza gwiazdka? Czy wsciekniesz sie? Zaczniesz klac, czy wyciagniesz z lodowki kolejna butelke. Jasne! Wytlumaczysz sie przed soba. Powiesz, ze to nie twoja wina, ze jestes sam, daleko od domu, daleko od meza, zony, dzieci… To naprawde nie twoja wina. Jest ci ciezko, bo wlasnie myslisz o nich… pamietasz… chcesz byc z nimi… tesknisz. Myslisz, ze jestes sam. Myslisz, ze jestes sam, bo twoi najblizsi sa tak daleko… oni nie dostali wizy amerykanskiej, a ty nie zaryzykowales, zeby pojechac do nich… Niepredko bys wrócil.

Myslisz, ze jestes sam? Ja tez mysle, ze jestem sam. I chyba mamy racje… Ania tez mysli, ze jest sama… i Jacek… i Gienia… i Stefan… i Leszek… i Bartek… i… Ania ma w Polsce meza i trojke dzieci… i jest sama. Jacek juz dawno rzucil zone, ale kocha córke… i jest sam. Gienia ma juz dorosle dzieci… i wnuków… i jest sama. Stefan nigdy nie mial rodziny… jakos nie ulozylo sie… jest sam. Jeszcze jest Marcel w Paryzu… tez sam, bo zona rzucila go, zanim zdazyl miec dzieci… I jest jeszcze Hans w Monachium – tak naprawde to on jest Jasiek, ale co bedzie tlumaczyl „Bawarom”, ze woli byc Jasiek, a nie Hans. I jest Michal – sam, bo nienawidzi czlowieka, ale mysli, ze kocha Boga. I jeszcze jest Pawel. — ona urodzila mu syna i umarla. Czternascie lat Pawel myslal, ze nie jest sam. Kilka lat temu okazalo sie, ze byl glupcem. Jeden syn nie zabezpiecza przed samotnoscia.

Zostaw to „ucho”! Nie otwieraj lodówki, otworz telewizor. Zobaczysz ilu jest ludzi zadowolonych z siebie. Nawet umierajacy z glodu ich nie ruszaja.

Odstaw butelke !

Wiesz co, wydaje mi sie, ze jestesmy sami, bo troche to lubimy. Dramat ukladasz. Ty i ja. A moze bysmy razem gdzies pojechali? Postaraj sie usmiechnac, dostaniesz bilet. Usiadl wygodnie w fotelu. Mozesz tez na kanapie. Cieplo ci? Daj reke i zamknij oczy. To nic, ze lzy wzbieraja pod powiekami… to nic. Usmiechnij sie. Pamietasz? Byles kiedys maly. I znow, lamago, rozbiles bombke. Skup sie! Ubierasz choinke. Ma byc piekna. Powiem ci wiersz o dziecinstwie:

W twoich snach dom byl zawsze wysoki
jak ton skrzypiec,
ktore lezaly za obrazem sniac
o wielkim balu
Jeszcze szumia w twych uszach
lany zborz dojrzalych
kolyszac cie do snu piosenka zolnierzy
Jeszcze pamietac musisz pospiech
gospodarzy i glos twojego ojca
silniejszy od burzy…
Nie warto bylo plakac
Dom, ktorego nie ma wzlata
do ksiezyca
jak woz Eliasza
Podaj reke matce tu jest droga nasza
ktora pojdziemy wolno
na spotkanie czasu Zapach laki
po uszy
i chrapanie lasu…

Mocniej scisnij mi reke, bo zasniesz
i wypadniesz z gry. Wroc do dziecinstwa.
Nie zostawiaj swych skarbow
ktores wyniosl z domu
Nadlamany scyzoryk
gwozdz piórko kogucie i pamietaj
nie zdradzaj sie nigdy nikomu
ze w kieszenie nabrales powietrza na droge
Teraz mozesz wedrowac i spiewac
do woli
glos Pietrka cie dopedzi
az z Wierchow Sokolich
kiedy jo se krowy pasol
tok na bakier copke nosol
jak sie krowy lozigraly
copecke mi potargaly

A jaki kolor ma dzisiaj twoj dom?
Nie mów. To niewazne. Zwalniamy.

***

Oplatek

Jak trudno ruszyc sie z fotela, ale przeciez trzeba. Trzeba podejsc do stolu i wziac go w reke. Taki bialy i taki chudy. Bialy jak cialo, ale dlaczego chudy? Laczy przeciez tyle ziaren pszenicy. Powinien byc brzemienny jednoscia.

Nie puszczaj mojej reki i nie spogladaj w kierunku lodowki. Wystarczy jedna reka, by sie przelamac oplatkiem: ten okruch za meza… za zone… ten za syna… za corke… za stara matke… za kaszlacego ojca (za duzo pali!)…

Odloz kawalek dla mnie. Zjem pozniej. Razem z innymi. Kiedy juz wszystkie zyczenia nadejda, nawet te spoznione – z Italii, z Polski, z Francji, Niemiec i dalekiej Australii.

Dziwne. Tak latwo rozpuszcza sie w slinie i we lzach… Taki kruchy i delikatny, sam Bog ukryl sie pod jego postacia… Przeciez to zaden chleb, zadne jedzenie…

Mario siostro Lazarza
gdy Pan wszedl do domu
zapomnialas o piecu
nie nakrylas stolu
bo milosc zaczyna sie od niejedzenia
niewazny stal sie czajnik
inaczej naciagacz
kasza jak chuda wrona, sadzona za rozpacz
czosnek jak zeby wiedzmy
z zasady nierowne

gdy Pana zobacze
nic nie zjem padne na pysk
jak grzech sie rozplacze

***

Bulion z jajkiem

Wiesz, jak latwo to zrobic? Kostke bulionu rzucasz na wrzatek i gotujesz piec minut. Potem jajko, ale samo zoltko, bo kiedy wpadnie ci choc odrobina bialka, to bedziesz mial biale gluty w filizance. Przygotuj sobie raphacholin na przekaske, bo po tym bulionie w kostkach twoja watroba moze nie przetrzymac. Kiedys bulion podawali ciezko chorym. Robili go jednak z prawdziwej kury, takiej, co to miala dwie nogi i dwa skrzydla i owinieta w piora spacerowala sobie po podworzu, jedzac tylko to, co jej samej na watrobe nie szkodzilo. To bylo bardzo dawno. Nie ma co wspominac. Teraz przeciez nie bedziemy kupowali calej kury pachnacej ryba, by zrobic filizanke bulionu. Wdzieczni jej jestesmy za jajko, ktore pod przymusem zniosla.

Nie krec nosem na ten bulion. Czy ty wiesz ilu ludzi usmiecha sie do twego cieplego, parujacego i pachnacego magi kubka? Mozemy zwolnic. Pojedziemy na pierwszym biegu. Dyskretnie zagladaj w okna domow. Oni nie chca, by ogladac ich samotnosc i nedze. Patrz, ten staruszek ma jeszcze makaron. Ale szczesciarz! Corka nie zaprosila go na wigilie, bo ma gosci. Tata sie jeszcze glupio odezwie i skompromituje pania magister. Kolezanka moze pomyslec, ze taka inteligentna magister ma tak prymitywnego ojca. Lepiej nie ryzykowac.

Tamta babcia ma jeszcze skrzydelka od kury. Moze pracowala poltora etatu i teraz ma wieksza rente. Ale juz dawno przestala placic za swiatlo. Wiec wylaczyli. Dzieci rozeszly sie po swiecie, maz od dziesieciu lat w grobie, a ona? Trwa jeszcze. Ty mówisz, ze jestes samotny.

***

Herbata

Zrób sobie herbaty. Jest naprawde dobra. Ja takze sie napije… i zapale sobie. Jest ci smutno? Chcialbys byc ze swoimi? Wiem. Ale nie mów, ze jestes samotny. Zamknij oczy. Nic nie jest tak szybkie jak mysl. Moze caly swiat juz poszedl spac, a tylko my czuwamy? Choinka miga lampkami. Cicha noc, swieta noc. Posiedzimy jeszcze w milczeniu. Lubie poczekac, az skonczy sie dzien wigilijny i moje imieniny. Zawsze to lubilem. Kiedy zaczynala sie Pasterka, wsród nocnej ciszy, robilo mi sie smutno, bo imieniny beda dopiero za rok.

***

Pomarancza

Wiesz, kiedy bylem dzieckiem mieszkalem w Polsce. Pomarancze kosztowaly tam 40 zlotych za kilogram. To bylo jeszcze za Gomulki. A ile pomaranczy wchodzilo na kilogram? I jak tu obdzielic kilogramem pomaranczy cala rodzine? Umialbys? Polskie matki umialy. Skubaly te pomarancze, skubaly i wyskubaly tyle czesci, ile bylo potrzeba. Pozniej same udawaly, ze nie lubia pomaranczy, zeby bylo wiecej dla dzieci… Jeden z moich kolegow zwierzyl mi sie, ze nie chce byc doroslym, bo dorosli nie lubia pomaranczy.

Nie mijajmy tego domu. Za duzo tu swiatel o tej porze. Podobno w wigilie mozna wejsc do kazdego domu. Wszedzie mozna znalezc wolne nakrycie. Gwarno tu. Tyle dzieci? A gdzie rodzice? To sie nazywa dom dziecka, wiesz? Tez maja pomarancze. Czy pomarancze pozwalaja zapomniec o mamie? Nie spogladaj na lodówke. Ich rodzice nie potrzebuja lodówki – wypija, zanim zdazy sie schlodzic.

Ten maly trzylatek meczy sie z oporna skorka pomaranczy. Nikt mu nie pomoze. Niech sie meczy! Jezeli nie po-radzi sobie z takim drobiazgiem, zginie w zyciu. Starsi juz zjedli. Oblizuja sie, siedza na stolach i nonszalancko machaja nogami. Przekrzykuja sie, bo kiedy tylko zamilkna, to gdzies tam, gdzie spoczela soczysta pomarancza zrodzi sie ten krzyk: mamo!!! Nie mozna dopuscic, by wydarl sie z gardla.

A ty mowisz, ze jestes samotny!

Zamknij oczy i usmiechnij sie. Twoj synek juz spi. Nie trzeba go budzic. Zbliz usta do spoconego czola. Usmiechnie sie przez sen.

Nie poszedles na Pasterke? Za daleko, czy wydaje ci sie, ze wyrosles z wiary dziecinstwa? A moze nie wierzysz, ze Dzieciatko moze byc Bogiem? Nie wierzysz, ze Malenka Milosc moze zbawic swiat? Naprawde jestes samotny.

Czuwam nad tymi, ktorzy nie wierza
w mojego Syna
– mowi Madonna Ateistow –
Modle sie za tych,
którzy sie nie modla.
Gdy krwawia,
Moja modlitwa jak bandazem
owijam ich rany.
Gdy tona,rzucam im moja modlitwe
Jak pas ratunkowy.
Gdy umieraja,
Z mojej modlitwy czynie wezglowie
Dla ich zmeczonej skroni.

***

Reklamy
Opublikowano Bez kategorii, Boże Narodzenie, Christmas, esej, essay | Otagowano , , , , , , | Dodaj komentarz

Wigilia is where it’s at

Probably the single most unique feature about Polish Christmas celebrations is the great importance attached to Christmas Eve. Although the Christmas season starts on the first Sunday of Advent (this year December 3rd) and stretches on through the Three Kings (January 6th) all the way to Candlemas (February 2nd), the main event of Polish-style Christmas has always been (and hopefully always will remain) WIGILIA, Christmas Eve. It is not only the climax, high point and main focus of the entire season but the single most important day of the year.

It is on the Vigil that everything really important about Christmas occurs. All that comes earlier in the season is merely a build-up to Wigilia. Everything to comes afterwards, Christmas Day included, is an also-ran. Everything about the day is special, unique and surrounded by legend. ‚How you are on Christmas Eve you will be the whole year’ — goes a common belief, so youngsters are on their best behavior. To get spanked on that day would mean looking forward to more of the same throughout the new year.

The culmination of December 24th is the ‚wieczerza wigilijna’ or Christmas Eve supper, the year’s most symbolic and festive family gathering. Hay is scattered over the table-top before being covered with a pure-white (non-patterned) table-cloth. Everyone dons his or holiday finery, awaiting the evening’s first star to appear — the sign for things to begin. Then comes grace and the breaking and sharing of oplatek, accompanied by an exchange of wishes, personalized to fit the individual hopes and needs of each person present.

The supper itself comprises an odd number of meatless dishes, some of them served in many families only this once a year. Typical foods include herring and other fish, mushrooms, sauerkraut and noodles, with sweet follow-ups containing poppyseed, honey, nuts and dried fruit. After supper koledy are sung and gifts are exchanged, but getting presents is not really a big part of traditional Polish Yuletide. The crowning of a magnificent evening of family warmth and traditional symbolism is Pasterka, the Shepherd’s Mass.

In addition to the beautiful old customs and the tasty delicacies, in an American setting Polish-style Wigilia could be a boon to those where each year both sides of the family want everyone over for Christmas. The more Polish-minded side could hold its main celebration on the 24th and the more Americanized could have the family over the following day. Throughout this reporter’s childhood on Detroit’s east side, this worked perfectly: Wigilia was always at Babcia Strybel’s and Christmas Day was at Babcia Kupczynska’s.

Opublikowano Boże Narodzenie, Christmas, essay, Polacy w USA, Poland, polonia, polonia w usa, religia, religion, społeczeństwo | Otagowano , , , , , , , | Dodaj komentarz

Christmas

choinka2Christmas is holly and mistletoe, turkey and dressing, music and merrymaking.

Christmas is excitement, and exhaustion; giving and forgiving; caring and sharing.

Christmas is for children? for children of all ages? with stockings hung carefully along the length of the mantle, and a plate of doughnuts and a big red apple thoughtfully in place for old St. Nicholas, when he makes his midnight rounds.

Christmas is a pile of beautifully wrapped gifts stacked around a Christmas tree, and perched precariously on the very top of the stack is a knobby-looking parcel with a fat, lopsided bow, tied with fingers of love, and a hand – lettered card, its words straggling uphill and down, proclaims for all the world to see?. „To Grandma with love.”

Christmas is a sudden lump in the throat, when a burst of music floats through an opened door, and a fresh young voice sings the old familiar words, „I’ll be home for Christmas, but only in my dreams.”

Christmas is shopping lists and depart-ment store crowds? weary clerks and frantic shoppers who apparently were late in hearing the news that Christmas would be observed this year on December 25.

Christmas is special? special smells, special sights, special sounds. The fragrance of freshly cut evergreens, and the special tantalizing aroma of gingerbread baking in the oven.

The special sight of Mother Nature doing her decorating, concealing a dull and dreary landscape under a white velvet coverlet of fresh fallen snow. The special sound of a great choir and the piercing sweetness of the organ, as each listening heart echoes the words, ” O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.”

Christmas is the postman, bearing his blessed burden?

Christmas cards and magic Postmarks like Cairo and Beirut, Campinas and Kowloon, and packages that show the marks of the long journey across the miles of land and sea.

Christmas is carolers with overshoes and earmuffs, and mittens and heavy jackets, their happy voices suddenly visible on the frosty air?Carolers with cold feet and red noses, and slightly husky voices sharing the ever – old, ever new proclamation, „Joy to the world, the Lord has come.”

Christmas is a silver star, beckoning the simple shepherds to come and find God’s Blessed One. And they came on that first Christmas, empty – handed, bearing no rich gift of frankincense or myrrh, but with hearts ready to receive Him.

Christmas is the Christ Child, lying in a manger in the little town of Bethlehem, God’s great and perfect gift to His frail, imperfect children? A high and holy moment in the history of man.

The calendar has started a rumor that Christmas lasts just one day, but even the littlest angels in Heaven rock with laughter at such absurdity. Christmas confined to just one day of the year?

What utter nonsense!

True, the broken tree ornaments and the tinsel and torn wrappings go out with the morning trash? and the cunningly carved little figures in the creche are lovingly wrapped in tissue and put away for next year’s use? and true enough, the lovely flickering candles have melted into unattractive puddles of paraffin?.

***

But Christmas over? Never believe it!

For Christmas will always be in the hearts of God’s children everywhere as they extend a helping hand to a friend in need? as they go about reflecting God’sgoodness in the quiet unheralded expressions of a loving heart?. As they share the light of the world with those who live in darkness. Other things are limited to an hour on the clock? or to a day on the calendar?

But Christmas is forever.

Opublikowano Boże Narodzenie, religia, religion, tradycja | Otagowano , , , | Dodaj komentarz

Wigilia: Traditional & Simplified

Even if you have never prepared Polish-style Christmas delicacies from scratch, I’m sure you will find many of the following recipes quite easy to follow. Most will serve from 4 to 6 people, so simply multiply the ingredients for larger groups.


HERRING IN OIL (sledz w oleju):

Drain 12 – 16 oz. jar of marinated herring, discarding onions and spices. Plunge into cold water for no more than 1 min. and drain well in colander. Place in clean jar or bowl and drench with salad oil to cover. Refrigerate over night or longer. When ready to serve, remove herring with fork to serving platter. Top each piece with a little half a spoonful of very finely-chopped onions. Decorate platter with parsley sprigs, pickled mushrooms and/or gherkins.


CREAMED HERRING (sledz w smietanie):

Store-bought creamed herring are not very good, because they contain all kinds of chemical preservatives to prevent such a spoilage-prone combination as fish, cream and onions from going bad. Instead, drain a 12 – 16 oz. jar of marinated herring, discarding onions and spices. Plunge into cold water for no more than 1 min. and drain in colander. If desired, cut herring into smaller, bite-sized pieces and arrange on lettuce-line serving dish. Fork-blend 3/4 c. dairy sour cream (or plain low-fat yogurt for dieters) with 1/4 c. mayonnaise (regular or light), 1 t. sharp brown prepared mustard, the juice of 1/2 a small lemon and several dashes of white pepper. Drench herring with sauce just before serving. Note: herring are served either with rye bread or boiled potatoes.


HERRING SALAD (salatka sledziowa):

This is a more economical way to serve herring. Drain 8 oz. jar marinated herring and discard onions and spices. Dice herring and place in salad bowl. Add 2 c. cold, cooked diced potatoes, 2 peeled, diced apples, 2 chopped onions, 2 chopped dill pickles and/or 10 gherkins and 1 t. chopped fresh parsley. Toss gently and fold in sauce: fork-blend 1-1/2 c. mayonnaise with 1/2 c. sour cream and 1- 2 T. brown prepared mustard. Chill at least 2 hrs before serving. Optional: for a gourmet twist add 1 heaping t. capers.


SHORT-CUT EGG & RICE PIE (kulebiak na skróty):

Crescent-roll dough can also be used to prepare this old treat that accompanies clear soups. Combine 1-1/2 c. cooked rice, 5 chopped hard-cooked eggs and 2 diced onions sautéed in 2 T butter or oil until lightly browned, add 1 beaten uncooked egg 1 – 2 heaping T. chopped fresh or frozen dill and salt & pepper to taste. As in preceding recipe, obliterate manufacturer’s perforations. Run filling down center of dough-sheet and fold sides over it to overlap. Pinch seam to seal and pinch together any other openings that might appear. Place seam-side-down on baking sheet, tuck ends under, brush with egg wash and bake according to pkg. directions or to a nice golden brown. Let cool at least 30 min at room temp before slicing and serving. Note: The fillings for this pie and the pasties in the preceding recipe are interchangeable.


CLEAR BEETROOT SOUP (czysty barszcz czerwony):

In pot combine 3 c. beet juice (from canned beets) and 2 c. apple juice and heat. In it dissolve 3 vegetable bouillon cubes (enough for 3 c. bouillon). Add 2 T. vinegar and season to taste with a little garlic powder, liquid mushroom extract, pepper, sugar. Add 2 T. unsalted butter, simmer a few min., switch off heat and let stand a few min. covered for flavors to blend. Serve in large teacups with hand-held paszteciki (below).


FILLED SOUP PASTRIES (paszteciki):

Simmer 2 finely chopped onions in a little butter until tender and just barely browned. Combine with 1 c. cooked rice, 4 finely chopped hard-booked eggs, 1 raw egg, a heaping T. fresh chopped dill (now available year round in better supermarkets!) and salt & pepper to taste. Mix well. Open a tube of refrigerator crescent-roll dough and with floured thumb obliterate manufacturer’s perforations. Instead cut dough sheet into 2 parallel strips and run filling down the middle of each strip. Roll dough over filling snugly to form a roll and cut it at an angle into 2- 3 pastry rolls. Pinch together ends of each pastry roll to keep filling inside. Repeat with other roll. Bake according to instructions on package or until nicely golden brown. Serve hot with beet root soup.


CLEAR MUSHROOM SOUP (zupa grzybowa czysta):

Soak 1-1/2 oz. dried boiled mushrooms in 3 c. water several hrs or over night. Cook mushrooms in the water in which they soaked until tender. Cut cooked mushrooms into thin strips or dice. Combine mushrooms, their liquid and 1-1/2 c. vegetable stock and bring to boil, then reduce heat. Brown 2 finely chopped onions in 2 T. butter and add to soup. Simmer several min. longer. Season to taste with salt, pepper and a little lemon juice and serve over cooked noodle squares or ribbon-type egg noodles. Optional: Garnish with a little chopped fresh parsley before serving.


EASY MUSHROOM-RYEMEAL SOUP (latwy zurek wigilijny):

Crumble up 4-5 slices Polish bakery rye bread (with crust removed) into 6 c water in pot and let soak several hrs. Add 1 mushroom bouillon cube and bring to boil. Remove from heat and beat with egg-beater or hand-held mixer until smooth. Add 1 bud crushed garlic, 1 t marjoram, 1 T white vinegar and salt & pepper to taste.


FRIED FISH (ryba smazona):

Wash and dry 2-1/2 – 3 lbs fresh or thawed fish fillets (pike, carp, walleye, lake or ocean perch, catfish, cod, haddock, pollock, etc.), salt well, drizzle with lemon juice and intersperse with lemon slices and refrigerate several hrs or overnight. (Optional: If desired, intersperse also with onion slices.) Rinse and allow to drip-dry, salt & pepper, dust with paprika and sprinkle with a pinch of sage, roll in 50-50 mixture of plain bread crumbs and flour and fry in hot oil until golden brown on the outside and fully cooked on the inside. Drain on paper towel and serve with horseradish sauce: fork-blend 2/3 c. mayonnaise, 1/3 c. sour cream and 1 heaping T. prepared horseradish. Season to taste with lemon juice, sugar and a pinch of salt. Serve fish with boiled potatoes and sauerkraut salad (below).


CREAM-BAKED FISH (ryba zapiekana w smietanie):

Wash and pat dry 2-1/2 – 3 lbs northern pike, walleye or perch fillets, sprinkle with juice of 1 lemon, salt well and refrigerate several hrs or overnight. Rinse and pat dry. Brown fillets in a little oil or butter until just barely golden on both sides, then transfer to casserole. In skillet in which the fillets were browned, gently simmer 2 small onions sliced wafer thin until transparent, adding more fat if needed. Spoon onions over fish and bake in pre-heated 375° oven uncovered about 15 min. Meanwhile, in saucepan melt 2 T. butter or margarine, stir in 2 T. flour, stirring into a paste and diluting with 3/4 c. milk. Add 1/4 t. salt and bring to boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, gradually stir in 1/2 c. sour cream and 1 t. lemon juice. Heat but do not boil. Pour sauce over fish and bake another 15 min. or until fully cooked. Garnish with a little fresh chopped parsley and/or dill just before serving.


WALLEYE POLONAISE (sandacz po polsku):

Cut 2-1/2 – 3 lbs walleye fillets into 4″ pieces and cook in 1 qt gently boiling vegetable stock (home-made or bouillon-cube type) containing 1 T. vinegar 5-10 min. or until done (but not overcooked). Transfer with slotted spoon to warm serving dish. Chop 3-4 hard-cooked eggs and toss in 3 T. hot melted butter, but do not cook. Add a heaping T. fresh chopped dill, salt & pepper and toss to blend ingredients. Sprinkle hot fish with lemon juice and cover each piece with a little of the egg topping. Note: Other fish fillets may be prepared the same way.


POACHED FISH POLONAISE (ryba po polsku):

Cook 2 lbs firm fresh-water fillets in vegetable stock (containing 1 T vinegar) to cover about 5 min or until done. Remove cooked fillets with slotted spoon to platter and keep warm in oven. In saucepan melt 3 T butter and switch off heat. Add 4 – 5 finely-chopped hard-cooked eggs and toss to coat evenly with butter. Add 2 -3 T fresh finely chopped dill and salt & pepper generously. Toss to blend ingredients. Sprinkle fish with lemon juice and top with hard-boiled-egg topping. Serve immediately.


CHEESE & POTATO-FILLED PIEROGI (pierogi „ruskie” z kartoflami i twarogiem):

For pierogi dough, sift 2-1/2 c. flour onto board, sprinkle with 1/2 t. salt, deposit whole egg and 2 T. salad oil at center and blend ingredients. Add about 1/2 c. cold water a little at a time, working the dough constantly to absorb it. Knead dough until smooth, roll it into a ball and let is rest beneath an warm inverted bowl 10 min. Meanwhile, prepare the filling: cook 1 lb potatoes in lightly salted water until tender. Drain and cool. Add 1/2 lb crumbled farmer cheese and mash well together with the potatoes until mixture is uniform. In 2 T. oil lightly brown 2 chopped onions and add to mixture. Mix well and salt & pepper to taste. Roll dough out thin on floured board, cut into rounds with glass or biscuit-cutter, place a spoonful of filling at center of each round, fold in half and pinch edges together to seal. Cook in batches in a large enough pot of boiling salted water so they float freely without crowding. Cooking time is roughly 10 min. but test one for doneness just to be sure. Remove with slotted spoon and drain. Serve with melted butter, bread crumbs browned in butter or sour cream.

There are also many good pierogi on the market (Kasia’s, Mrs. T’s, Giorgio’s and many local brands) which I urge you to try. The most suitable for Wigilia are: sauerkraut & mushroom, potato & onion, cheese & potato (known in Polish as ‚ruskie’) and plain cheese. To serve, simply do one of the following:

– fry in butter, oleo or oil and med-low heat until a nice golden crust forms on both sides;
– place in skillet, add 1 c boiling water, cover snugly and steam on high heat. When water evaporates, they should be ready.
– heat in microwave according to pkg. directions.

Typical toppings include: sour cream, melted butter, fried chopped onions or butter-browned bread crumbs. The plain cheese variety may be dusted with confectioner’s sugar or drenched with sour cream fork-blended with confectioner’s sugar frequently. About 1/4 t. vanilla extract and/or several drops of almond extract may added.


SAUERKRAUT & MUSHROOMS (kapusta z grzybami):

Rehydrate 1/2 – 1 oz dried bolete mushrooms over night and cook in same water until tender. Chop mushrooms and return to their stock. Drain 1 qt sauerkraut, reserving juice. Swish sauerkraut around in a large pot of cold water, drain in colander, press out moisture, and chop coarsely. Place sauerkraut in pot, scald with boiling water to cover, add 1/2 a bay leaf, bring to boil, then reduce heat and cook uncovered on med. heat about 1 hr. Replace water that evaporates and stir occasionally. While sauerkraut cooks, in 3 T. oil fry up 8 oz. diced fresh mushrooms and 2 chopped onions on med. high heat, stirring frequently, until fully cooked and browned. Drain sauerkraut of excess moisture, add the cooked mushrooms and their stock, the fried fresh mushrooms and (optional) 2 – 3 canned anchovy fillets, finely chopped. Season with a few dashes of pepper, mix well and bake in covered casserole in 350° oven 1 hr. After switching off heat, leave in oven until cooled to room temp. Prepare a day ahead. Refrigerate over night and bake another hour or so before serving.


DRIED-FRUIT COMPOTE (kompot wigilijny z suszu):

Soak 1 c mixed dry fruit and 1/2 c raisins in 2-1/2 – 3 c. water 2 hrs. Add a little water more water, if all has been absorbed, and 3 – 4 T sugar and cook about 15 min. Optional: add a pinch of cinnamon and/or juice of 1/2 a small lemon. Serve room temp or chilled.


POPPYSEED NOODLES (kluski z makiem):

Cook 1 lb pkg of wide or medium-wide egg noodles or lasagna according to directions or until tender. If using lasagna, after it has cooked cut it into roughly 1″ squares. Dot hot, freshly-drained pasta with a little butter, stir in 1/2 – 3/4 canned poppyseed pastry filling, add 1 c plumped raisins and 1/2 t lemon zest. Toss and refrigerate before serving.


WHEAT & HONEY DESSERT (kutia):

In small pot with tight-fitting lid bring 2 c water to boil. Stir in 1 c bulghur wheat and cover tightly. Wrap pot in dish towel and blanket and let stand until water is absorbed (about 1 hr). When wheat has cooled to room temp, stir in 1/2 – 3/4 canned poppyseed filling, 1/4 – 1/2 c ground or chopped almonds or walnuts and 1 c plumped raisins. Note: Kutia can also be prepared with 3 c cooked rice or barley instead of the wheat.


OAT PUDDING (kisiel owsiany):

Bring 2 c. milk to boil and remove from heat. Fork-blend or whisk 1/2 c. oat flour with 1/2 c. cold water to a smooth paste and whisk into hot milk. Add 1 heaping T. sugar, 1/2 t. vanilla extract and cook on low several min., stirring frequently. Pour into dessert dishes and let cool to room temp. Serve at room temp. (the traditional way) or chilled with a little fruit syrup or preserves. Note: To get oat flour, simply whirl uncooked rolled oats in food-processor to a fine powder and sift through sieve.


STEWED PRUNES & RICE:

Soak 1 c. pitted prunes in 2 c. water several hrs. Add 2 T. sugar, 1/4 t. grated lemon rind and cook in same water 15 min. or until very tender. Season with a pinch of cinnamon if desired. Cook 2 c. rice in 2 qts boiling water until tender. Drain well. Serve stewed prunes over rice.


CRANBERRY JELLY (kisiel zurawinowy):

In pot bring 2 c canned jellied cranberry sauce to boil. Remove from heat. Dissolve 2 T cornstarch in 1/2 c cold water and stir into hot cranberry sauce. Return to heat and simmer a min or so, stirring frequently. Serve at room temp as is or topped with cold coffee cream.


NOODLES & FRUIT (lazanki z owocami):

Cook a pkg. of lasagna-type noodle squares or flat egg noodles. Usually the pkg. directions are for the chewy, somewhat rubbery ‚pasta al dente’ Italians like so cook a little longer until noodles are really tender. Drain in colander. Transfer to serving dish. Dot with butter or Butter Beads, tossing lightly, and spoon 2 c. room-temp. canned cherry-pie or apple-pie filling. Toss lightly. Variation: The canned fruit fillings are also good over cooked rice.


GINGERBREAD CAKES (pierniczki):

Cream 2 eggs with 1 c. sugar until white. Combine with about 4-1/2 c. flour, 1 c. honey and 1 t. baking soda dissolved in 3 T. water. Sprinkle in 1 t. ginger, 1/2 t. cinnamon, 1/4 t. ground cloves and 1/4 t. pepper and work ingredients by hand into a dough. Knead on floured board, sprinkle with a little flour and roll out to a thickness of 1/4″. With biscuit-cutter cut into circles and bake on greased cookie sheet in pre-heated 400° oven about 10 min. Remove from oven. When cool, store in air-tight tin. Prepare at least a week ahead, as the cakes becoming tender during storage. Enjoy them just as they are or glaze with white or chocolate icing before serving. Variation: Other than rounds, they can be cut into stars, hearts, angels and other shapes as desired.


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Wieczerza wigilijna

dzieci_choinka

dzieci ubierają choinkę

Kto z nas Polaków na obczyznie czy w domu rodzinnym móglby sobie wyobrazic Swieta Bozego Narodzenia bez wieczerzy wigilijnej? Wieczerzy, która wywodzac sie z czasów wczesnego chrzescijanstwa na stale wrosla w polska tradycje. Ten doniosly i wzruszajacy czas spedzamy na ogól w gronie najblizszych nam osób oczekujac narodzin Dzieciatka. Nazwa wigilia, wilja pochodzi od slowa lacinskiego „czuwanie”, przyjela sie od najdawniejszych czasów, symbolizujac swieto modlitwy i czuwania przed narodzinami Chrystusa. Juz dla pierwszych chrzescijan postna wieczerza w Wigilie Bozego Narodzenia byla symbolem jednosci i nadziei. Polskie zwyczaje wigilijne siegaja obrzedów ludowch. Tradycje chrzescijanskie i ludowe splataja sie w barwna, pelna poezji calosc. Powszechne i do dzis istniejace na wsi, jest stawianie snopów zboza w rogach izby, w której zasiadano do wieczerzy wigilijnej. Z tej slomy chlopi krecili pózniej male powrósla, którymi obwiazywano drzewa owocowe w oczekiwaniu lepszych zbiorów. W noc wigilijna zwierzetom domowym dawano po kawaleczku oplatka dla zapewnienia im zdrowia oraz pieknego przychówku. Wierzono, ze w Wigilie o pólnocy zwierzeta mówia ludzkim glosem, lecz podsluchiwanie takiej rozmowy nie przynosilo szczescia. Do dnia dzisiejszego na stól wigilijny pod obrus kladziemy siano, na wieczna pamiatke i symbol narodzin Jezusa. W czasie wieczerzy starym zwyczajem, równiez i w miastach panny wrózyly z „siana” o swym przyszlym losie. Wyciagniete spod obrusa zielone zdzblo oznaczalo powodzenie w milosci i rychly slub, sczerniale – niepowodzenie, pokrzyzowanie planów malzenskich a nawet staropanienstwo. Nie brano oczywiscie tych wrózb zbyt serio, lecz bawiono sie przy tym doskonale. Do wieczerzy wigilijnej zasiadamy o zmroku, z chwila ukazania sie pierwszej gwiazdki, tak dlugo i niecierpliwie wypatrywanej przez dzieci. Dla nich, dla naszych maluczkich jest to jeden z najpiekniejszych wieczorów w roku. Nagle urzeczywistnia sie atmosfera basni, w fascynujacym blasku róznobarwnych swiatelek choinki, pod która kochajace rece podlozyly upominki, takie na jakie kogo stac. W ten wieczór nawet najskromniejszy upominek posiada wyjatkowa wartosc, stajac sie wyrazem milosci i przyjazni laczacej ludzi. Najpiekniejszym ze staropolskich zwyczajów – oby przetrwal jak najdluzej – bylo zapraszanie na wieczerze wigilijna ludzi samotnych. Nikt bowiem nie powinien w ten wieczór byc opuszczonym. Zasiadajac do stolu nigdy nie zapominano o nieobecnych, dla nich przygotowywano osobne miejsce, stawiajac oddzielne nakrycie, na które kladziono odrobine kazdej potrawy i kawalek oplatka. Kolacje zaczynano od dzielenia sie oplatkiem, polaczonego ze skladaniem sobie zyczen. Jest to chwila wzruszajaca jak zadna inna w roku, wywolujaca wiele wspomnien, siegajaca dziecinstwa i mlodosci, chwila przeslonieta smutkiem po tych, którzy juz na zawsze odeszli i zarazem rozjasniona wiecznie plonaca w sercach ludzkich nadzieja pelnego szczescia. W tej uroczystej chwili wybaczamy sobie wszelkie urazy i winy. Po spozyciu postnej kolacji reszte wieczoru spedzamy na spiewaniu koled. Polskie koledy, czesto bardzo stare naleza do klejnotów piesni ludowej i religijnej. Dla wielu z nas zyjacych z daleka od kraju koledy byly i sa nadal wzruszajacym symbolem polskosci. Fryderyk Chopin zyjac na emigracji wyrazil swa wielka tesknote za Polska wplatajac w smutne akcenty Scherza h-moll – pelna slodyczy kolysanke – kolede „Lulajze Jezuniu..” W noc wigilijna wielu z nas wybiera sie na pasterke – uroczysta msze, odprawiana na pamiatke objawienia sie pasterzom aniolów, oglaszajacych w swietle Gwiazdy Betlejemskiej radosna nowine narodzenia sie Dzieciatka Jezus. Gdziekolwiek by nas los rzucil, w te noc bedziemy razem…

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Christmas Page: No Darcie, there is no Santa Claus!

mikolaj02

Santa Claus – Święty Mikołaj

 

Six-year-old Darcie Nowaczyk of Cicero recently saw someone dressed up as Santa Claus taking a break out in back of the mall, puffing a cigarette with his fake whiskers pulled down. Some kids at school say that there is no real Santa Claus, that parents only tell kids such fairy tales and put the presents under the tree themselves when the youngsters aren’t around. To clear up her doubts, little Darcie decided to write to a Polish-American newspaper her grandmother gets and ask what are things really like. A short while later, she received the following reply:

„No Darcie, there is no Santa Claus. Oh you’ll see plenty of those roly-poly elf characters in their funny red outfits and silly pompom-topped caps everywhere you look: at the mall, on TV and billboards, in newspapers and store windows. Usually they’re advertising something, because that is why they were created in the first place. Today’s shopping-mall Santa is nothing but a gimmick used by big business to talk people into spending more money than is good for them.

„So it’s understandable that you see his pudgy red face at every store and mall. The surprising thing is that you also see him in day-care centers and schools. Teachers actually encourage kids to draw or color Santa rather than explaining that he’s only an advertising agent our after their parents’ credit cards. The same teachers may be promoting causes like environmental protection but somehow fail to oppose the Santa Creep, the world’s greatest promoter of greed and vulgar materialism. Often they also overlook the mind-polluting effects violent cartoons, computer games, aggressive commercials, reality shows, rock music and Hollywood’s ‘cruel is cool’ action movies have on youngsters.

„But it is even more surprising to see the Santa character promoted by parochial schools, Catholic pastors and Polish-American organizations. Why in the world would they want to propagate the one character who has done more than anyone else to take Christ out of Christmas? Why should they be going along with those who have turned the beautiful family-oriented religious Feast of the Nativity into one huge, many-month-long, razzle-dazzle shopping spree? And then there are the parents who unwittingly help to brain-wash their own kids by making such a big fuss about presents: finding out who wants want, gift shopping, wrapping presents, hiding presents and finally ripping all the glittery wrappings to shreds on Christmas morning. Unfortunately, amid all the hoopla and confusion, more and more of our youngsters are growing up without knowing whose birthday is really being celebrated.

„Before the paid cartoonists, song writers, marketing experts and the tycoons bankrolling them joined forces to create the silly Santa elf and boost business, there really was a Saint Nicholas. He was a kindly bishop known for helping the needy. Despite all the dazzling shopping-mall glitter and ‘Jingle Bell’ noise blaring over the loudspeakers, he continues to live in the hearts of those who believe the Christmas season is more than just high-powered shopping and partying. The real Owiêty Miko³aj may still be encountered here and there visiting Polish-American parishes, schools, scout troops and clubs and rewarding kids who know their prayers, do good deeds and are kind to others.

„So, Darcie, now that you know, you can tell your grandparents and parents, your classmates and friends that THERE IS NO SANTA CLAUS. But there is a Saint Nicholas. He comes down from heaven on his feastday, December 6th, TO KEEP CHRIST IN CHRISTMAS!’

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Christmas Page – Choinka

Niektórzy chcieliby w choince swiatecznej odnalezc slady „drzewa dobra i zla” z raju, a choinka1nawet pewne paralele ze zbawczym drzewem Krzyza z Golgoty. Z pewnoscia trudny do ustalenia jest fakt, od kiedy zaczeto kojarzyc iglaste drzewko z obchodami swiat Bozego Narodzenia. Faktem jest, ze w wielu kulturach i religiach drzewo, zwlaszcza iglaste, bylo (i jest) symbolem zycia, odradzania sie, plodnosci, trwania. Istnieja równiez proby biblijnego uzasadnienia zwyczaju wystepowania bozonarodzeniowego drzewka, jakkolwiek brak bezposrednich zrodel rekopismiennych zarowno z antycznosci chrzescijanskiej, jak tez sredniowiecznych, odwolujacych sie do takiej interpretacji tekstu proroka Izajasza (60, 12): „Chluba Libanu przyjdzie do ciebie: razem cyprysy, wiazy i bukszpan, aby upiekszyc moje miejsce swiete” (warto tu przypomniec, ze w tym samym rozdziale Izajasz w swej wizji prorokuje o holdzie Medrcow, ktorzy zaofiaruja przyszlemu Panu zloto, kadzidlo itd).

Kilka faktów historycznych. Na jednym z miedziorytów malarza i grafika L. Cranacha Starszego (+1553), w kontekscie zlobka rozpoznajemy drzewko jodlowe ozdobione gwiazda i swieczkami. W nastepnych wiekach, rózne swiadectwa historyczne potwierdzaja wystepowanie choinki, nawet w mieszkaniach prywatnych, wnoszonych wlasnie w dzien obchodow Adama i Ewy (24 grudnia). Zwyczaj ten stal sie powszechnym w mieszczanskich rodzinach niemieckich, tyrolskich, austriackich, a pozniej pozostalych krajow europejskich (i pozaeuropejskich), zwlaszcza w XIX wieku. Przyjelo sie to zarowno w rodzinach katolickich, jak tez protestanckich. Oczywiscie dochodzily kolejno rozne dodatkowe ozdoby choinkowe, uzasadnione najpierw biblijnymi, a potem innymi motywacjami.

W ubieglym wieku zaczeto na szczycie jodly umieszczac figure gwiazdy betlejemskiej. W obecnosci zawieszanych jablek widziano echo biblijnego jablka (kuszenia) Adama i Ewy (zastepowane pozniej tzw. rajskimi jablkami), w papierowych lancuchach rozpoznawano okowy zniewolenia grzechowego (czy nawet politycznego w okresach rozbiorów Polski). Oswietlenie choinkowe mialoby wskazywac na Chrystusa, ktory przyszedl na swiat jako „swiatlo na oswiecenie pogan”, a zywe, zielone drzewo jodlowe mialoby symbolizowac Chrystusa – zrodlo wszelkiego zycia. Jakkolwiek ta chrystologiczna interpretacja ma swoja dokumentacje w literaturze, poezji, to jednak nie jest (a powinna byc!) powszechna.

Natutralna jodla, nieodzowny towarzysz koscielnych zlobkow, w srodowiskach domowych doznala dzis sekularyzacji. Z praktycznych wzgledow jej oswietlenie jest dzis sztuczne (elektryczne). Jodla juz nie pachnie natura – stala sie ekologiczna, sztuczna, plastikowa. Naturalne ozdoby (owoce, lakocie) zastapiono szklanymi kulami, sztuczna wata, sztucznymi „zimnymi ogniami”, itd. Czy nie trzeba nam na powrot „odkryc” religijny sens drzewka bozonarodzeniowego i nasycic go pierwotna teologia? Tu nie tylko o folklor chodzi !

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