Since being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis my life has become one big puzzle about what, when, and how my immune system has already been and is still being impacted. Suffice it to say, it sucks. No longer included in my diet are wheat and soy. Never do I use processed foods. I make my own ghee so that I can have butter. I should eat only organic foods, but living in the Aleutian Islands makes that nearly impossible. I think holidays are probably the times when I really miss certain foods. I think the one thing that I miss the most is my mother’s Easter bread, or what we call kulich , made for our Orthodox Easter. I am honestly going to try to make it with gluten free flour one of these years. I just have to prepare myself for what may be utter failure and a waste of resources.
I find that I never have enough time to do everything I want to do in a day, so when people comment that there is nothing to do in Unalaska, it makes me feel like bonking them on the head. For those of you who do not live in Unalaska, saying there is nothing to do in Unalaska is the number one pet peeve of people who live here and love it. I have been contemplating a blog for a long time, and when my daughter Alena started her blog (http://therealunalaska.blogspot.com/) I thought, okay, maybe I have time for it, and if nothing else, it will drive my husband crazy with just one more thing added to my plate. So this blog will be a little bit of everything. Those of you just sitting around on the internet, get out there and do something! And for heaven’s sake, don’t wait around for the weather to change. For those of us who live in extreme conditions like the Aleutians, an area where the environment is one of the most dynamic and exhilarating on earth, would never get anything done if we did that! Ya gotta learn to love it.
My little house is a mess – having just completed two sets of holidays – the
regular Christmas and New Year and our holidays that we celebrate in the Russian Orthodox faith. My voice is still sounding kinda like a frog after three nights of starring. Starring is an old tradition in the Russian Orthodox Church. Starting on January 7, which is Christmas on the Julian calendar, parishioners, with homemade stars, go from house to house singing a prescribed group of carols. The songs that you hear are predominantly sung in Slavonic and Unangam tunuu, the liturgical language of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Aleut language, respectively. The carolers are reenacting the journey made by the three wise men, who, according to the Bible, followed the star of the east to Jesus when he was born. FYI, for next year, we welcome all to come.
I am a little peeved at myself for not outlining all the home improvement projects that I wanted to get done this winter, and now Unalaska Building Supply is shut down so I can’t even buy a gallon of paint. Caleb and I moved to a very small house this summer and painting the dark woodwork around the windows and ceiling edge would go a long way in making it look larger. As it is, we are totally in each other’s way all the time. So we have to do things to not drive each other crazy. While he was at work the other day, and before I went to work, I baked a batch of poppyseed bread. (Kristine – this is what I was going to bring to StoryCorps on Saturday, but it wasn’t done.) It is a recipe that I have used for years. I can’t even remember where I got it, and have made the bread so many times over the years that I don’t even need a recipe anymore. I am sure that it must have come from the can of poppyseed filling, or my 30 year old copy of Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. So several months ago, I wrote it down for my friend Zoya, and I guess this is a good place to post it so that my girls can have a copy. Maybe this will be Unalaska’s first food blog!
Poppy Seed Bread Makes 2 loaves
3 ¼ Cups flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
½ Teaspoon salt
2 ½ Teaspoons active dry yeast
½ Cup sour cream
¼ Cup water
½ Cup butter
1 can poppy seed filling or recipe below
Confectioner’s sugar (optional)
Combine 1 Cup flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in a large bowl and stir until blended. Place sour cream, water and butter in small saucepan. Cook over low heat until very warm (0ver 115 degrees, but no hotter than 130). Add to dry ingredients gradually and beat with electric mixer on low speed until blended. Then mix at medium for 2 minutes. Beat in eggs and ½ cup flour. Beat another 2 minutes. Stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic – about 7 minutes. Cover and let rest 15 minutes.
Grease large baking sheet or cover with parchment paper.
Punch down dough and divide in half. Rollout 1 piece of dough onto lightly floured surface to 12 x 14 inch rectangle. Spread ½ of poppy seed filling over dough to within ½ inch of edges all the way around. Roll up dough starting from long side. Pinch seam to seal along the length and both ends. Place filled roll, seam side down on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Cover and set aside in warm area to rise until almost doubled in bulk, approx. 45 minutes. (If your room is drafty, your loaves may rise unevenly.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 30-35 minutes or until top is golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Dust top with confectioner’s sugar before serving, if desired.
Filling if not using canned filling:
1 Cup poppy seed, ground
1 Cup sugar
2 Tablespoons shortening
¾ Cup milk
Cook up the filling ingredients about 7 minutes or until well dissolved.
Remember: Kids Night Out, Wednesday, 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm, United Methodist Church.
Call Channel 8 at 581-1888 to volunteer for thier annual fund raising auction.
Friday, January 23, 2009, Father Michael Oleksa will be the keynote speaker at a community celebration commemorating Martin Luther King. Friday’s event is called Celebrating the Dream and will be held at the community center at 7:00 PM. Come celebrate Unalaska’s great diversity!
On Saturday evening, the Aleutian Arts Council is holding its Annual Meeting. The event will be held at the Grand Aleutian Hotel. Food and live music will give you something to do.
Volunteer for one of the many non-profits in town!