Mt. Doug Hiking

The forest changes with the seasons, according to its own needs. Taking a walk on the winter solstice, trying to catch the last of the light, I was thinking of the Christmas to come, grown children to hearth and home. My heart barely able to contain the fullness. I did not try to dress the mountain with my emotions; the mountain determines its own colours. Climbing high to overlook the Blenkinsop Valley, I walked parallel to the setting sun, and when I changed direction, this brightest star followed me, painting everything in gold.

Coming down in the twilight, I gave thanks for family, health, and this place. All of them changing me.

Mt. Doug, Christmas Eve 2009

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Perogies

It’s that time again. Perogie making time. Also known as Pierogi, Pyrohy, or Varenyky.

For the last few years I’ve been using my cousin’s dough recipe–2 cups of sour cream, 3 1/2 cups of flour. The dough is easy to work with, and the perogies pretty much melt in your mouth. This year, however, I wanted to go back to my mother’s original recipe, just as she wrote it out for me on an old brown envelope. The dough gets tough if you over handle it, but it feels a little more substantial in the overall experience, as far as eating perogies goes. With some additions of my own, the following are her instructions:

Dough:

2 1/2 cups of flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 of a cup warm water

2 tablespoons of mazzola oil (I used olive)

1 egg, beaten–use 1/2

Mix water, oil, and eggs.

Sift flour and salt.

Add water/oil mixture to flour. Knead dough until smooth. (I have no idea what she meant by smooth) I knead until it is a soft ball. I divide it in half, and roll out 1/2 at a time so that it doesn’t dry out.

Cover and let stand 2 hours (I let it sit in the bowl for 20 minutes).

Roll (thinner than for a pie crust), then cut circles as big as you want your perogie (about the size of your palm-unless they are huge, then about a 2 1/2 inch circumference), and place a teaspoon of filling in each circle. (It’s tricky finding something to shape the exact size circle that you want–great if you’ve got a medium-sized cookie cutter; I sometimes use a small wine glass.)

I usually place the filling in the top half of the circle and stretch the half I am pulling up just a bit. Then pinch all around to close.

Standard filling:

6 large potatoes boiled and mashed with butter (about 2 tablespoons worth)

1 1/2 cups of grated cheddar cheese

Other fillings:

cottage cheese, sauerkraut, blueberries

Place perogies on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Then flash freeze. When they are frozen put them in plastic bags.

To cook–place perogies in a pot of boiling water. Boil 8-10 minutes. Drain.

Serve with fried onions and mushrooms and sour cream. Add dill to the onion mixture if you can get it.

We traditionally have these on Christmas Eve.

I’m sure there are as many variations as there are mothers. My cousin now tells me she makes a dough using instant potatoes. Well, that’s just way too many calories.

Mt. Doug Hiking

Cold, cold, cold. Covered in layers, and wearing gloves and a hat, I head out. A good steep elevation and a quick pace soon gets some heat going. With the leaves gone, the forest has opened up visually. At first I think there are fewer layers, but then I realize that the layers are much more subtle–mud and leaves renewing the forest’s floor, a dusting of snow, furry lichen on arm branches. The air is damp with only the passing scent of Douglas fir.

I stand breathing in the clean and still air. A young mom passes with baby close in swaddled blanket, coffee in one hand, leashed dog in the other.

The forest is heading into hibernation, but there is also a feeling of advent all around.