It’s like a giant pierogi assembly line.
On one end, the dough is portioned out and fed into a roller. Once it is the right thickness, it is cut with cookie cutters into flat discs. It is then filled with a ball of peppery shredded cabbage or cheesy mashed potatoes, and folded over into the familiar half-moon shape of pierogi. The sides are then sealed shut, either with a flat seal for the potato pierogi or a crimped seal for the cabbage.
Then you repeat the operation. Ten thousand times.
That’s 10,000 homemade pierogi that will be sold Friday and Saturday at the All Saints Catholic Church in Rossford’s annual Polish-themed All Saints Festival. For more than 50 years, the festival has been featuring fun, games, music, dance, rides, and even a polka mass.
And 10,000 pierogi. You can’t forget the 10,000 pierogi.
To make that many of the stuffed dumpling treats, dozens of parishioners have been getting together to hand-make them all, beginning with a simple dough made from flour, water, eggs, oil, and salt. That is allowed to rest for a few hours — or maybe they take a short break for dinner — and then the assembly line starts up with the rolling, the cutting, the filling, the folding, the crimping, and the boiling.
Everyone wants to be on the line; it literally runs from age 5 to age 85. And not even everyone on it goes to All Saints Church. All Saints has an informal agreement with the smaller St. Michael’s Ukrainian Catholic Church, also in Rossford, to help each other out during festivals.
On a recent Monday, Anna Wasylyshyn from St. Michael’s was helping to stuff and fold the pierogi. Although the recipe for the peppery cabbage balls was secret, she acknowledged that they did contain cottage cheese.
“Everybody has the same basic recipe, but everybody tweaks it and makes it their own,” she said.
During the festival, the pierogi will be browned in butter and served with sour cream. Also on the menu will be pigs in blankets, homemade kielbasa cooked with sauerkraut, and kolacky, those fruit or poppy-seed-filled pastries.
Church organizers expect to sell about twice as many potato pierogi than cabbage-filled.
The church is at 628 Lime City Rd. in Rossford. The festival will be from 5 to 11:30 p.m. on Friday and 4 to 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, beginning with the polka mass at 4 p.m.
This is getting boring.
Well, not boring, exactly. Actually, it’s still pretty darned exciting — especially for Stanley’s Market, which won the title of best pierogi at the Lagrange Street Polish Festival last week for the second year in a row.
The competition was fierce, the judges (two Polish, one Lithuanian) harsh and unyielding. So how did Stanley’s manage to snag the award for a second year?
“Bacon doesn’t hurt,” laughed a victorious Simon Zychowicz, a third-generation member of the family that owns Stanley’s, and the son of the current owner. “And a nice-quality dough.”
The North Toledo mainstay has been making pierogi for more than 80 years, and all that practice and skill went into the recipes that won them their second straight silver plate proclaiming them the Prince of Pierogi.
“We try not to use just the basic ingredients. It’s not just mashed potatoes, we add buckwheat groats, sharp cheddar cheese, and bacon to give it a well-rounded flavor,” Mr. Zychowicz said.
It must be working. The pierogi contest has only been in existence for three years, and Stanley’s has won two of them.
“We’re happy that we kept it going. We’re hoping that next year we can get people to come out and enter,” Mr. Zychowicz said.
Hot enough to…
Yes, it is blisteringly hot in Death Valley, especially lately.
But if you go there — and you should, the place is just gorgeous — for heaven’s sake, don’t try to fry an egg on a sidewalk or a rock formation. It makes a terrible, gooey mess.
Apparently, rangers at Death Valley National Park in California are having a tough time scraping uncooked egg off of various surfaces at the park, and they also have to pick up and throw away egg cartons and egg shells.
An egg needs a temperature of 158° to successfully fry, and the hottest temperature that has ever been recorded at Death Valley (it is also the hottest temperature that has ever been recorded anywhere) is 134°. However, many surfaces retain their heat, which means that, if they are left in the sun, some surfaces will in fact reach 158°.
A black, cast-iron skillet left for a few hours in the sun has a better chance of hitting 158° than, say, a sidewalk. Recently, on a day that reached past the 120° mark, one Death Valley park ranger filmed herself actually frying an egg in a skillet in the sun. However, for it to cook, she had to put a cover on the pan. A couple of attempts without the cover remained uncooked and gooey.
So if you go to Death Valley in the summer, by all means bring some eggs. But be sure also to bring a skillet with a cover.
Or you could just go to one of the handful of restaurants scattered throughout the massive park. They all serve eggs for breakfast.
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