Usually the Spy Test Kitchens are buzzing with seasonal food projects and experiments. I toyed with the idea of an April Fools’column, but I don’t think anyone can ever top the BBC’s 1957 Harvesting Spaghetti Panorama documentary (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVo_wkxH9dU), and I’m not sure the world is ready for sheer silliness right now. We are too busy keeping one eye on the next COVID variation coming for us, and the other on the terrible situation in Ukraine. I watch the news, I read the reports, I wring my hands, and I have sent some money to Chef Andrés and his World Central Kitchen. Alone, all I can do amounts to not much more than the proverbial hill of beans. But maybe I’m not alone.
Luke the wonder dog and I were on our afternoon walk the other day, and while he sniffed out the neighborhood news in the hedges along our path, I listened to one of my favorite podcasts, Table Manners. It’s a cheeky British food podcast hosted by pop star Jessie Ware, and her equally droll mother, Lennie. Each podcast episode brings prominent folks into the Wares’ kitchen for a homemade Friday night dinner, with wine and lots of chat. Sometimes they have foodie guests, like Jamie Oliver, Stanley Tucci, or Nigella Lawson. Or they have actors or singers such as Elvis Costello, Paul McCartney and Alanis Morissette. Last week their guests were longtime friends, Ukrainian chef and food writer Olia Hercules and Russian cookbook writer Alissa Timoshkina. They have had the brilliant idea of #CookforUkraine. Cook for Ukraine is a worldwide effort to raise awareness and money which provide aid to children in Ukraine through UNICEF. https://www.thrillist.com/news/nation/cook-for-ukraine-how-to-get-involved
You can make Ukrainian Pierogi or learn how to make Ukranian Borshch. The Spy Test Kitchens love little pies, or pasties, or pierogis. They can be stuffed with meat, meat and potatoes, veggies, savories, or even fruit. https://thehouseandhomestead.com/ukrainian-perogies-recipe/ They are cheap and filling, similar to all the food our mothers and grandmothers made at home: pasties, meat pies, potato pancakes, soups, chicken broth, cucumber salads, stuffed cabbage. Add sour cream and you will have a taste of Ukraine. Or you can try a borshch: https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/ukrainian-borshch. I was convinced to become involved after hearing the description of a cucumber salad, with fresh-from-the-garden cucumbers, tomatoes, sour cream and fresh dill, which made my mouth water.
Don’t you want to dive in? Want to get started right away? Alissa Timoshkina’s Forshmak – or Deviled Eggs will be perfect for Easter: https://www.alissatimoshkina.com/blog/cookforukraine-forshmak-a-classic-ashkenazi-starter Jessie Ware swears by this easy-to-bake-with-children apple cake recipe by Olia Hercules: https://oliahercules.com/recipes/apple-cake/
Now you have a few of recipes under your belt. Now you can #CookforUkraine, have a dinner party, hold a bake sale, and feel as if you are being helpful on the world stage.
Except for waiting for the next vaccine to come to my neighborhood, there’s not much I can do but walk Luke the wonder dog, and #CookforUkraine.
Here is the link to the #CookforUkraine Instagram account. Every dish is beautiful and will inspire you to branch out and share some new recipes. https://www.instagram.com/cookforukraine/
Alissa Timoshkina’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/alissatimoshkina/?hl=en
Olia Hercules’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/oliahercules/?hl=en
Table Manners podcast: https://play.acast.com/s/4d1603d1-3c56-4f4d-a5b3-7611f87011a9/623a3bb1176d7b001287fc8c
TAG your cooked dishes on Instagram: #CookForUkraine and if you can, donate:
Chef Andrés World Central Kitchen: https://wck.org/?gclid=CjwKCAjwopWSBhB6EiwAjxmqDVEiKhtgS7oM1v7O5LNySnS69EqA0eZpgMXK1LOPm_EWxPCn12ivlhoC-48QAvD_BwE
Here is more information on how to made wise decisions about donating money to causes: Give.org https://www.give.org/?gclid=CjwKCAjwopWSBhB6EiwAjxmqDUdUlr4XIOCqFKIb5SsX8Of_fStPHWpf3nTN_6beeYvW0HnFOSa1shoC97YQAvD_BwE
“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.” ― Laurie Colwin