|My rings and my Babci's rings|
My parents recently moved closer to us, so they are now two and a half hours away instead of six and a half! That definitely has its perks... especially since my grandparents are visiting. I haven't seen my Babci and Poppy since our last trip to New Jersey which was Memorial Day 2014 for my best friend's wedding. Too long. My Poppy is 93 and my Babci is now 90. I am so so blessed to have them around still and I hate that our visits are so infrequent. I call them every week at least. So my mom and dad recently decided to bring them down for an extended visit and I made sure the first weekend I did not have work we drove up there.
First we started the mashed potatoes. I thought we'd have all these nice pictures, but my mom added her own touch. I know how to make mashed potatoes regularly, but instead of using milk for them we used sour cream. Next came the dough.
We started with about five cups or so of flour added an egg, then half a container of sour cream. It was worked by hand and feel. We also added milk and a bit more sour cream to make the feel just right. The dough then got worked and kneaded. My Babci showed me how with quick efficient movements that I then got to try. My forearms hurt after a few minutes but six or seven decades of doing this barely caused her to blink. I am a wimp!
After we worked the dough we let it rest for at least ten minutes under a glass bowl. This helps it rest and form and the bowl keeps the dough moist. It will stay under the dough the entire time, we cut pieces off to work it as we go.
While the dough rested we finished mashing the potatoes and added them to a separate bowl. This will be our filling. After the ten minutes or so were up we cut a small piece of the dough off the larger lump. A cutting board was floured to be our new work surface. At home my Babci has a giant wooden board that takes up basically the entire kitchen table that was once her mother's... you use what you have! Add some flour to the board to keep the dough from sticking and also on your hands. We then worked the dough in to a long snake and used a knife to cut smaller sections. Those small pieces were rolled into a ball in our hands then flattened onto the board. We then took a rolling pin and flattened the dough pieces. A few short rolls is all it takes, no vigorous quick back and forths, just make sure the dough is even all the way around. Then you pick it up in your hand and add a spoonful of mashed potatoes and make a sort of taco shape.
Using your fingers you mold and shape the dough around the potatoes so you can crimp the edges closed. This part was hard for me to get but by the end I was much better! Some of my pierogies were very stuffed, some not enough. Babci called one or two "hot dogs" and "pregnant". But she was a very good teacher! Much better than we she tried to show me how to knit/crochet and took one look at my work and said, "Oh honey, forget it. That is pretty awful. I'd just quit while you're ahead!"
But I got better! We made dozens and dozens of pierogies and by the end I was making them on my own. It is important to seal them well or when you boil the pierogies they can break open and give you potato soup. I used a fork to crimp the edges of my pierogies to ensure an extra seal. I am proud to say none of mine burst open! You put the pierogies in boiling water and once they float to the top they are ready. You can eat them then or do what we do... fry them in a pan with butter and onions! YUM. Dup Dup was on hand the entire time, keeping an eye on things. She may have been given a little bit of mashed potatoes for her effort. We placed our boiled pierogies in a long glass baking dish with saran wrap between the layers and fried them later in the evening. You can refrigerate them or even bag them up and freeze them for later (like we did to the three dozen or so I took home for a special occasion. So now I know. And I will make my own pierogies and hopefully pass that down to my own children someday.
I also learned how to make one of my favorite Babci recipes, string bean soup, which is pictured above... but I think I will keep that for a separate post. It is absolutely delicious!
I loved being able to see my Babci and my Poppy. Poppy is a lot weaker now. He needs a walker to go anywhere and spends most of his time on the couch. He watches a lot of tv, sneaks candy when no one is looking, and has his good days and his bad days. Most of our visit was great for him, I think having Ryan and I, then later on my brother Stefan and his friend Kenan, made a huge difference. When more people are around he does better. I was nervous about the Dup with Babci and Poppy, I didn't want her knocking them down! She hadn't seen them since she was six months old or so, Easter of 2012, which is the left picture above. The right picture is this weekend and you can see not much has changed. She was Poppy's buddy and loved to sit with him and get pet. Same with Babci. As excitable as she can be she did so well and it was never once an issue. I am proud of my little Duppy! We got Poppy to eat at the table with us all the meals and he even left the house to go to church with us.
My parents' house is surrounded by cotton fields and they harvested while we were there. It was pretty neat to see the giant machines going by and making huge rectangular pallets on the sides of the road.
Ryan and I also took Dup Dup on long walks through the neighborhood and saw some gorgeous sunsets over the river. Nights were getting cooler and sweaters were worn under borrowed jackets, but it was worth it.
This... this though was the most important thing. Time with my family. Time with my Babci and my Poppy. This was the first time in years and years my husband, brother, parents and grandparents were all together. The last few visits were either just Ryan and I, or my mom and I... but we all got some time together this weekend.
I hate saying goodbye to them. I always cry when I do... I have every time since I went to college basically. I know I am getting older and by default, so are they. But these moments are ones I cherish so so much. I am so blessed my family is close enough for me to visit and that we can make things like this happen.
Pierogies and family. You cannot get much better than that.