Harvest (Жатва)

This past Sunday my church had our annual Harvest celebration (Жатва). The Harvest celebration for Ukrainians is very much like Thanksgiving here in the US only it is celebrated by Christians. And like any major church celebration we had a potluck afterwards. If you have never tried Ukrainian food, one thing you need to know is that Ukrainian food is amazingly delicious and, since for centuries Ukraine has been a very poor nation, very creative.

So in true Ukrainian fashion we had food galore!! There were two tables full of salads, meats, potatoes, cabbage rolls, stuffed bell peppers, tushana kapusta (fried cabbage), kielbasa, shuba (herring in a coat), and much, much more! There were also three tables of sweets, yes you read that right THREE! We had every kind of cake and pastry imaginable. It was heavenly!

Some of the salads

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Olivye or Masniy Salat – Meat and Potato Salad

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Deviled Eggs

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My uncle’s famous Cashew Chicken.

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Poppy Seed Rolls

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Cream Puffs, Waffles, Cheesecake, Bars, Cookies

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Wafers, Baklava

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Ptiche Moloko (Bird’s Milk), Medovik Cake (Honey Cake)

The food was amazing but the time spent in fellowship with our church family was even better. It was a lot of hard work to pull this potluck together but the time spent together made it all worth it.

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Just some of the stage decorations. We really do go all out in decorating and preparing for Harvest.

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Magic Bars

This is one of my go to deserts to make if I have friends or family coming over. It is incredibly easy and quick to throw together when you are on a tight schedule. I hope you enjoy it as much as my friends and family do.

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Ingredients

1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1 (14 oz) can of condensed milk

2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels

1 1/3 cups flaked coconut

1 cup chopped nuts

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat a 13 x 9 inch baking pan with no-stick cooking spray

2) Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter. Press into the bottom of prepared pan. Pour condensed milk evenly over crumb mixture. Layer evenly with chocolate chips, coconut, and nuts. Press down firmly with a fork.

3) Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cut into bars or diamonds. Store covered at room temperature.

Enjoy!

My Favorite Lemon Bars

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Ingredients

Part 1

1 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup white sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

Part 2

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 lemons, juiced

confectioners sugar (optional)

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2) In a medium bowl, blend together the softened butter, 2 cups flour, and 1/2 cup sugar. Press into bottom of a lightly greased 9 x 13 inch pan.

3) Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until firm and golden. In another bowl whisk together the remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1/4 cup flour. Then, whisk in the eggs and lemon juice. Pour over the baked crust.

4) Bake for an additional 20 minutes. The bars will firm up as they cool.

5) After the pan has cooled cut into 2 inch squares and dust with confectioner’s sugar (optional)

*For a festive tray, make another batch using limes instead of lemons and add a few drops of green food coloring to give a very pale green. After both pans have cooled cut into uniform 2 inch squares and arrange in a checkerboard fashion.

Plov

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Ingredients

3 pounds beef stew meat, cut into bite-size pieces

2 large onions, thinly sliced

8-10 large carrots, cut into matchsticks

3 cups of Long Grain Rice, steeped in water

3-4 heads of garlic, with tops cut off

1 tablespoon of cumin

1 teaspoon of black peppercorns

salt to taste

grapeseed or vegetable oil for frying

Directions

1. In a cast-iron pot, pour in about 1/2 an inch of oil, be generous with it. Turn up the heat all the way. When you see your pan smoking, add your meat. *Do not over crowd your pot. If you happen to do so and you accumulate a large amount of liquid from the meat, pour out the liquid and reserve it for later, when you add water to the carrots. This way your meat will be able to brown nicely.*

2. Once your beef has browned on all sides, about 10 minutes, add in your sliced onions.

3. Saute’ for 15 minutes, until the onions are nicely browned.

4. At this point add in your matchstick carrots and saute for about 15 minutes.

5. Now add in your garlic and nestle it into the mixture. Just cut off the tops and take some of the loose “paper” off the garlic. Take BOILING water and add it to your garlic, carrots, meat and onions. Only add enough water to just cover the mixture. Add in your herbs and spices, taste the liquid and ensure that there is enough salt and spice in there to compensate for the rice you will be putting in later. NOW you may turn your heat down to low.*You want to use boiling water because otherwise you would stop the cooking time. At this time, if you can also add any leftover liquid from the meat.*

6. GO AWAY. PLEASE PLEASE Please whatever you do DO NOT STIR! You will disrupt the wonderful magic that is about to happen! Go talk on the phone, watch half a movie, drink some wine…whatever you want…just do not touch this for 45 minutes.

7. Once this time has passed crank up the heat. Remember that rice you had steeping in the water? Now is the time to drain it and prepare for its final resting place. Once drained, lay the rice CAREFULLY over your carrot, meat and onion mixture. Pretend you are gently “blanketing” the mixture with your rice. Again, take BOILING water and SLOWLY cover the rice just about 1/2 of an inch above the rice. See all that beautiful brown goodness come up to the top? That’s your flavor right there, that’s what you did all that work for. Now just get the rice done and you will have a complete success.

Let the rice cook on HIGH heat until there is no more liquid. If you see liquid still bubbling up from the top, it isn’t done. If you see liquid bubbling up at the bottom, it isn’t done. Only when it is completely dry is it done.

Once it is completely dry, turn off the heat and cover with the lid for about 30-60 minutes. Only after this time passes can you mix the mixture. Serve with garlic cloves on top.

Pure deliciousness!