Sunday, August 23


A few weeks ago I went to the mini-farmer's market that has set up on 8th Street at Preston on Thursday mornings. I was surprised to see a vendor selling chanterelles. We chatted for a while and he told me they are from Northern Saskatchewan, picked by himself and a few friends. They looked like the mushrooms I knew from my visits to Poland - "kurki."

I remember kurki in butter as being one of my favourite things to eat at my Grandparents' home. I remember my Grandmother standing at the stove stirring the mushrooms until they glistened. I remember her serving them with barley or just simply over good bread. I remember her delegating my sister and I to make the tea. I remember sitting at the large table scarfing down the best meals made by Grandma. I miss her a lot.

Well, I thought I might call my Mom to ask about these chanterelles and if they were really kurki. I bought a bag and before supper, called to confirm. Yes, indeed, chanterelles are kurki. After a quick consultation on the best way to cook them, I started down memory lane.

Always up for a challenge, I decided to attempt to make homemade pasta, by myself, without a pasta-roller-machine-thingy. Good thing Ian and I had just received a wonderful present from my Parents for our 5th wedding anniversary:

This thing mixes, whips and kneads beautifully. I have already made meringues, a pavlova, whole-wheat bread, two batches of brioche, coffee cake and it's only been three weeks! The mixer made quick work of the pasta dough, turning it silky smooth. I absolutely love my new toy. Thank you Mom and Dad!

My first attempt at hand-rolling pasta was a disaster. I needed to call in reinforcements in the form of Ian's forearms. It's so hard to get the sheets thin enough. I used a recipe from Jamie Oliver's book, Cook with Jamie, and he recommends the thickness of the pasta sheets be somewhere between a beer coaster and a playing card. Eventually, we just settled on the beer coaster.

We didn't have the proper flour (00 type), or the proper machinery, or even, the right amount of patience, but the meal ended up just perfect!

While I was cutting the pasta into strips, Ian quickly sauteed half an onion in butter, then added the chanterelles with some salt and pepper. Then, when Ian was setting the table, I melted some more butter and placed the drained pasta into the mushroom mixture. Finally, when Ian was getting the camera ready, I mixed in even more butter through the pasta to coat and sprinkled over a tablespoon of fresh dill (Can you tell? Us Polish folks like their butter!)

Mmmm, these were just the flavours I remembered from my Grandparents' home.

It's curious how this simple meal of mushrooms and pasta brought back so many emotions for me. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to visit my Grandparents, help them in their garden, cook with Grandma in her tiny kitchen and eat these amazing fresh foods as a teenager. I feel blessed to be able to continue my Grandma's cooking. I feel a little sad that I'll never see Grandma again. But most of all, I feel happy to have kept many beautiful and joyful memories.