The Blessing of the Easter Basket: Happy Easter 2017

I know it’s been awhile since I posted last and i apologize;  I am reposting this page in memory of  My Father Daniel Komarinski who left this world  on

March 12, 2017, he was 84 years old.  This was his Favorite Holiday and tomorrow he will  be with us in Spirit and in our hearts.

From my Family to yours we wish you a Happy and Blessed Easter!1157739_10200753859950597_353724998_n

Daniel Komarinski

July 25, 1932 –  March 12, 2017

The Easter Basket

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Saturday morning we prepared our basket of food to be blessed for Easter morning breakfast.  We would get up early so we could color the eggs and help my mom wrap the food and prepare the basket.  The family has grown so much that we now have brunch.

IMG_0565  The basket is filled with ham, kielbasa, Easter bread, colored eggs, horseradish, butter, and two kinds of cheese.  The blessed food is handled with much care, any scraps or crumbs are gathered and must be buried or burned.  Also a little bit of each blessed item is kept back for the 2nd sunday of Easter to celebrate Russian Easter ( this at one time included Byzantine Rite which now goes with the Catholic Church Calendar)

As a child Easter Sunday could not come soon enough.  We would go to 8am mass then come home for breakfast…NO candy from our Easter Baskets before breakfast ( as a kid you thought this was a cruel & unusual punishment..LOL)  

IMG_0513 Breakfast started with a blessing.  Then my dad would pass out pieces of blessed egg topped with fresh ground horseradish and vinegar.  The bitter horseradish and cider vinegar represented the death of Christ and the egg represented His life and resurrection.  I don’t know how to spell the Ukrainian phrase that we speak. When my dad would present the egg for us to eat he says in Ukrainian “Christ is Risen” and we will answer him in Ukrainian “Indeed He has”.   When we were little, this would cause giggles to break out as we would stumble over the mouth full of word for we wanted to answer my father perfectly.  My Uncle Mike, my dad’s older brother, and his wife Aunt Eleanor would spend Easter with us.  Uncle Mike would tell us to say “Easter Grass” in response as that is exactly what the phrase sounded like to us kids……We still joke about that to this day.

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Before church we would line up to have our picture taken in our new Easter outfits…Bless my parents for their patience….especially my dad.  It never seemed to fail, he would have the perfect shot and the flash bulb would not flash…We joke about the year the camera did not survive the Easter Picture.. 🙂

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The Blessing of the Easter Basket

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Saturday morning we prepared our basket of food to be blessed for Easter morning breakfast.  We would get up early so we could color the eggs and help my mom wrap the food and prepare the basket.  The family has grown so much that we now have brunch.

IMG_0565  The basket is filled with ham, kielbasa, Easter bread, colored eggs, horseradish, butter, and two kinds of cheese.  The blessed food is handled with much care, any scraps or crumbs are gathered and must be buried or burned.  Also a little bit of each blessed item is kept back for the 2nd sunday of Easter to celebrate Russian Easter ( this at one time included Byzantine Rite which now goes with the Catholic Church Calendar)

As a child Easter Sunday could not come soon enough.  We would go to 8am mass then come home for breakfast…NO candy from our Easter Baskets before breakfast ( as a kid you thought this was a cruel & unusual punishment..LOL)  

IMG_0513 Breakfast started with a blessing.  Then my dad would pass out pieces of blessed egg topped with fresh ground horseradish and vinegar.  The bitter horseradish and cider vinegar represented the death of Christ and the egg represented His life and resurrection.  I don’t know how to spell the Ukrainian phrase that we speak. When my dad would present the egg for us to eat he says in Ukrainian “Christ is Risen” and we will answer him in Ukrainian “Indeed He has”.   When we were little, this would cause giggles to break out as we would stumble over the mouth full of word for we wanted to answer my father perfectly.  My Uncle Mike, my dad’s older brother, and his wife Aunt Eleanor would spend Easter with us.  Uncle Mike would tell us to say “Easter Grass” in response as that is exactly what the phrase sounded like to us kids……We still joke about that to this day.

Scan5

Before church we would line up to have our picture taken in our new Easter outfits…Bless my parents for their patience….especially my dad.  It never seemed to fail, he would have the perfect shot and the flash bulb would not flash…We joke about the year the camera did not survive the Easter Picture.. 🙂

The Story of the Easter Pie….Pizzacheene

IMG_0583This tradition came about when I started working for the Diocese of Greensburg.  I was chef and household manager at the Blessed Sacrament Cathedral. My boss was Fr. Michael Begolly who himself was an accomplished and well-known gourmet cook….Yeah so no pressure there..lol.  Just want to note that Fr. Michael is now Monsignor Michael.  Sorry back to the story…  Father Michael found out that Bishop Anthony Bosco loved Pizzacheene (Easter Pie). I was handed a recipe that was written down from memory with no exact measurements and I had two days to figure it out. I was not just making one of these, but four, and  one of the four was going to Bishop Bosco for him and his family to enjoy that Easter Sunday.    I went home that night and with the help of my mom, we tackled this recipe.  Of course, I offered many prayers to the god and goddess of Pizzacheene”   Well Holy Thursday came and I was up late the night before baking a test run at home.  Now it was time to prepare four of these for my boss.  Let’s just say it was a very nerve racking day.  The pies are prepared in a springform pan and have many layers. They bake at 300 degree for 1 hour or more.  The you pray that the dough is cooked and after it cools it comes out of the pan without sticking.  I have one comment thank goodness I was over 21 because I needed and had a stiff drink after work that day.

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I had to wait until Tuesday of the following week to find out if everyone was pleased, for the church offices were officially closed Holy Thursday thru Easter Monday.  I felt no news was good news and hoped I still had a job come Tuesday morning….lol

The story that was told to me is that Bishop Bosco did serve this to his family after the Easter Vigil Mass.  During the meal his brother commented that the pie was good but the dough could have been sweeter.  Bishop Bosco replied, “no, you’re wrong, I think its perfect.”  10 yrs later I am still making this dish for my family.

Bosco-Anthony-G-USCCB-300-dpi After that Easter, I prepared and organized several important dinners and functions for Bishop Bosco.  May he Rest in peace.

Easter

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Easter is a time filled with lots of food and traditions.  My dad is 100% Ukrainian and my mother is 100% Pennsylvania Dutch.  My father was the youngest of ten, one girl among all those boys. My father is now 82 and the only one left.  Bubba and Ditto (my fathers parents) were insistent that their children be American.  Even though they spoke Ukrainian around the farm-house, they were never taught how to read or write the language. ( but as kids our uncles taught us the not so nice words..lol)  My mom keeps the Ukrainian Holiday traditions alive, though some things may have gotten lost in translation,  we hold on tight to the ones we know.

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Easter Sunday consist of a meal of cold blessed food. Paska ( Easter Bread) is a bread made with eggs and Saffron water.  Some Paska’s contain nuts, currants/raisins, but Bubba told my mom you made it with what you had…The bread is made on Good Friday. Along with ingredients you will need a large bowl, a wooden spoon for stirring and lots of love.

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I have cut this recipe in half.  The one we make for Easter makes four loaves of bread.

Ingredients: Yield is two 1 1/2 pound loaves

  1. 2pkgs. Active dry yeast or 4 1/2 tsp of dry yeast
  2. 1/4 cup of luke warm water
  3. 1/4 cup sugar
  4. 1/2 cup of butter
  5. 1 cup of scolded hot milk
  6. 5 cups of Bread Flour ( you can use AP flour but I prefer the bread flour)
  7. 2 eggs + one yolk beaten ( make sure your eggs are room temperature)
  8. 1/2 cup of hot water
  9. 1 gram or 0.036oz of Saffron Threads
  10. one egg for egg wash

Method:  First pour the 1/2 cup of hot water over the saffron threads and set aside to steep.  Next bloom yeast in 1/4 cup of luke warm water for 5 minutes then stir to blend.  Measure sugar, salt and butter into large mixing bowl.  Add hot milk, stir until butter is melted and the sugar and salt have dissolved. Cool to luke warm. Stir in 2 cups of flour beat till smooth, now add the yeast, beaten eggs and Saffron water. (note: pour the water through a strainer to remove the saffron threads) Work in the remaining 3 cups of flour, once the dough forms a ball turn it out on a lightly floured surface and knead for about 2 minutes. The dough should be smooth and spring back at the touch. (note: you may use more or less flour pay attention to the wetness and stickiness of the dough) Shape dough into a ball, place into a bowl  that has been greased with shortening or butter. Cover and place in a warm area and let rise until doubled in size (about 1 1/2 hrs) punch the dough down cover and let it rise again (about 30 minutes) Then shape the loaves and place in greased bread pans, brush with egg wash and let them sit for about 20-25 minutes before placing in a preheated oven of 350 f or 180 c. Bake 30 to 35 minutes.  The bread should be nice and golden brown and when lightly tapped it should have a hollow sound. Remove from oven and rub with butter. After about 10 to 15 minutes turn the bread out and place on cooling rack. Enjoy! We wait for this bread all year-long. It is great toasted.

Tips for the rising of the bread:  if you don’t have a warm place for the bread to rise, you can do two things, First you could preheat your oven to it lowest setting possible.  Once it reaches temp turn it off, and place the covered bowl in the oven with the door slightly ajar.  Second: if you have a heating pad turn it on to its lowest setting place a thin towel on top of the heating pad, then place the covered bowl on top and let the dough rise.

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