Perogies, Christmas 2011

Perogies are not a Christmas tradition for the Loving family but two of the guests I hosted were of Polish decent and thought our menu not quite complete without them. Having never had a perogi this was an interesting endeavor. However, a simple search, a lot of supplies, and we got them down to quite a system. Pictured to the left is Ryan doing his part, oh ya btw familia, ky është dashur tim. The kind I made were filled with bacon, onion, mashed potatoes, and then I had half the batch with a can of American special delivery processed cheddar cheese (thank you site mate Lesley Wallace) and the other half with gouda. Now this may seem lame, like really what banal selection and combination of things. However, the amount of time and preparation that goes into an Albanian/American/Polish meal must be.. elaborated upon. To gather two of these supplies- gouda and bacon- it required a 3 hour trip and that doesn’t even include the walking that goes on between the three different buses it was necessary for him to take to get to Ksamil (just sayin’).

I made the dough ahead of time and then Ryan and I set down to the mission of rolling, cutting, filling, closing, and storing away the perogies. Easily was about 3 hours time to do so but kind of fun to do something that we had never done before. The recipe is a pretty basic one I found online. They’re not really that hard, it’s just a long process. This process was further elongated when faced with the power outage that took place halfway through preparation. Power outages during cooking,  always seem to happen to me.. Once regaining control, we boiled the perogis then quickly fried them up in butter. This all being done while making green beans with bacon and onion (can of green beans leftover from Thanksgiving feast, see previous posts) and roasting a chicken with stuffing. The fruit salad provided by a friend attending. We also had lovely peanut brittle which was a huge hit of course, special double chocolate brownies (thank you care package from Kara), cookies from another attendee, and ample amounts of Albanian wine. Some may enquire as to the full reason behind this lengthy post. Well for one I finally have internet and am sick and bored. But more importantly, I know that my creations are not to the exquisite level of wheat raviolis with lobster filling or cedar plank salmon, but nor are many of these supplies available here. I have heard tell volunteers going as far as traveling to 8 hours by bus to the capital to gather supplies or even crossing borders and heading to Greece to find cheeses! Living in Albania and cooking is a challenge to the say the least. Just thinking ahead, I know if I want to have green beans again in the next year and a half (yes, our most coveted Loving vegetable); I will need to send away a request for seeds, negotiate with my Albanian friend, work the land, and hope that the zone yields me a plentiful crop.

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