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Wednesday, 22 April 2015

A Peek at the life of a Ukrainian Pioneer Mom

Dad used to be away for weeks at a time in the winter, cutting trees.   One year, he was badly injured when a tree fell on him.

Meanwhile, Mom looked after four small children and the farm.    This can only give a small idea of her day.   She didn’t even mention bread making,   doing laundry on a washboard and a line, chopping wood, etc., etc.   Here’s what she did mention:

1.     Get up and put wood in the stove.
2.    Feed the animals.  (Mom didn’t milk in winter time.  She kept frozen skim milk for baking from January till April.) (I never thought to ask her how she did that.  She must have kept a number of covered pails outside in a shed because there was no electricity so no refrigeration.  Maybe Aunt Florence or Aunt Marion did the same.)
(a)        Fork feed into the mangers for 27-30 cows and calves and one horse.  Dad took the other horses into the bush with him.
(b)        Feed chickens and pigs.
(c)        Let the animals out.
3.   Feed the kids breakfast.  They are playing in the house, tearing up catalogs.
4.   Clean up.
5.   At lunch, feed the kids.
6.   At 3:30 or 4 pm, fork more feed into the mangers for the animals for night.
7.   Let the animals back into the barn and tie them up or they’ll hit one another.  (Or Mom would put only the bully cow in the manger – there was always one that wanted to eat what the others had.  There is always a leader among the cows.  She is first in line coming home and the others follow.  She manages the other cows.)

Mom said you have to be careful around cows.  Once a cow stepped on Mom’s foot and broke it.  She did not go to the doctor, but she knew it was broken.  The foot was sore and when it healed there was a bump.


Needless to say, Mom had to just carry on doing everything even with a broken foot.  No cast and none of this elevating the broken foot for a month.


What would Mom have cooked for her family?  Pyrohi, for sure . . .   

Here’s a delicious variation based on Annie Kabaloff’s recipe (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan):

(Annie says to use Winter Radishes:  I remember long white radishes on the farm being called that, but the closest thing in the grocery stores is the Daikon Radish.)

1 large Daikon Radish  (about 6 cups grated radish)
12 ounce onion
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ tsp pepper
¾ cup thick sour cream

·        Grate the radish (not finely).  Put it in a large bowl.
·        Boil large amount of water in tea kettle.
·        Fill another large mixing bowl with ice cold water.  (Put in some ice cubes.)
·        Cover grated radishes with boiling water and time one minute. 
·        Drain the radishes and drop into the ice cold water (but remove any floating ice chunks before adding  the grated radishes).

·        Drain and squeeze out as much water as possible.
·        Finely chop the onion and fry until softened in the oil (about 5 minutes).
·        Let onion cool.
·        Mix sour cream, salt, and pepper into the squeezed radishes.
·        Stir in the onions.
·        Fill the perogies.

There is enough filling for one batch of dough:  for dough recipe & instructions see :