October 2, 1912: Mom was born in Rossburn, Manitoba. She was a weak baby and was baptized immediately in a Roman Catholic Church at Olha because it was thought she would die.
Mom said that Gedo named her Marina, but her baptismal certificate says Maria Leszczesin and her parents are given as John and Anna Leszczesin.
(If anyone is interested in looking for possible relatives in the cemetery in Lviv, this Polish spelling of their last name should be noted.)
“That was the name I was called till I went to school,” she remembered. “Then the teacher called me Mary Leschasin, but as I changed teachers, my last name became Leschyshyn.”
I have chosen to feature Mom’s Borsch today because it was one of her signature dishes.
Mom had great pride in her cooking and in not ‘skimping’ on the amount of food for the table. It had to be set out all at the same time. Sometimes, there hardly seemed room for everything, but, if anyone suggested that maybe bread wasn’t necessary because there was so much already, Mom insisted. She explained with a story -- Mom always had a story:
A gypsy in the Old Country knocked on the door when the lady of the house was preparing dinner.
“Can you spare something to eat?” he begged.
So the lady gave him a pitcher of buttermilk and went on with her work. When the borsch was ready, she gave him a bowl. When the vareniki (perogies) were ready, she handed him a plate full. But he had stuffed himself already with buttermilk and borsch.
“Lady,” he groaned, “you are a fine cook, but, alas, you don’t know how to serve.”
Mom wrote out her Borsch recipe for me.
Mary was left-handed but always wrote with her right hand because she was forced to do so at school.
MARY STADNYK’S BORSCH
1. Fill a stock pot half full of water.
2. Add a disjointed chicken and 1 ½ teaspoons salt and cook for one hour on medium heat.
3. In the meantime, peel and cut up 4 beets, 1 carrot, 2 potatoes, and 1 large onion.
4. Chop parsley or dill if you have them.
5. After the hour is up, increase the heat to high under the pot and add the vegetables.
6. When the pot boils again, reduce heat to medium and cook 20 minutes.
7. Now add 3 tablespoons vinegar. If you like it more tart, add 1 more tablespoon.
8. Put 2 tablespoons flour in a medium bowl. Add enough milk to make a paste like for gravy.
9. When smooth, add 1 cup cream and stir with a whisk. Then add 1 cup milk.
10. Stir all into the borsch and boil 15 minutes. Then serve.
2008: Mom’s Borsch
(made by Nestor and Kathy)
Mom said, “I hope you have good luck as in borsch it’s the cooking that counts. You can add more milk if you wish. It all depends on how it tastes.”
Any meat cooked in the borsch is delicious. Often, Mom used a pork roast instead of chicken.
Kathy says, “While the veggies were cooking, clean the meat off the bones and then add it back just to heat up before serving.” She also noted that the dollop of sour cream is not necessary; it’s just there to make a nicer picture.
Nestor’s portrait of Mom