Clean, clean, clean — the first three steps in the Polish Christmas prep tradition. This year, we only did the second on those three steps: having a toddler running around makes cleaning a Sisyphusian challenge.
The next steps in preparing a traditional Polish Christmas: cook, bake, bake, cook, cook, bake, cook. Due again to the Girl, we have time for only half that. And we’re getting a late start at that. Last year we did the dumplings and “ears” weeks in advance and froze them.
Last night, I got started on the pierogi (dumplings) and uszki (“ear” — little dumplings, more like wontons).
First step: saute the mushrooms.
Second step: make a pulp out of the mushrooms.
Third step: squeeze every last bit of water out of the mushrooms.
This third step is critical, since the mushrooms will be the one of the main components of the pierogi and the sole component of the little wontons. Too much moisture in the filling and instead of nice little dumplings, you wind up with a doughy mess.
The next step after the mushrooms is simple: do the same thing with the sauerkraut.
It took me about ninety minutes last night to prepare the mushrooms and kraut, though most of that time was simply waiting for it to cook. But it’s frightening: ninety minutes for the filling of one of several dishes for Christmas Eve dinner.
But what is time when you’re cooking? The only regret is how long it takes to prepare all the food versus how quickly everyone eats it — the cook’s eternal curse.