Monday Meal Review: Poland

I never expected a picnic to be so difficult.

There’s a Polish saying, “Bez pracy nie ma kołaczy,” which means “Without work, there won’t be supper.” This was most definitely the theme of our week at the Polish Global Table.

For starters, I spread out the cooking of each dish over the course of three days, slowly making each one when I could find the time.

When I finally finished cooking, we took the apple pie to the park to share with friends.

Keith didn’t catch much of “the scene” on camera, so I’ll have to relay it the best I can.

After our first game (ever) of Frisbee Golf (which was quite fun, actually), we set up our picnic under a covered gazebo. We ate our meal with gusto (Ava was particularly hungry, since she had eaten her breakfast at some ungodly pre-dawn hour).  The breeze was mild and the sun was shining. Simply lovely. As I rummaged in our picnic backpack for the Tupperware filled with Polish apple pie, I heard footsteps. I looked up to find a serious looking woman dressed in a suit sizing up our little picnic.

“We’re having our company lunch here in an hour,” she said grimly.

We’ll just be a few minutes, is that okay?”

“People are coming right now to set up,” she replied sourly.

I scanned the empty parking lot and the six other empty tables under the gazebo. Other than her clicking heels, nothing important was going on.

Still, I didn’t feel like arguing. We gathered our things and stumbled over to another gazebo. I laid out our plaid table cloth again and set up the Polish apple pie. Again.

Keith turned on the video camera and began to record. We got just a few bites in when a sweet little birthday boy (2 years old, I soon learned) showed up with his parents. They looked like they had the entire contents of Party America in their pickup truck. They let us know (very kindly, I might add) that they would need the gazebo for little Michael’s birthday party. They said that we could stay to finish our dessert if we’d like.

We gratefully offered our thanks and continued to eat.

Out of nowhere came the low, slow rumble of a gator. The guy inside was tight lipped and clearly on official gazebo duty. I self-consciously started to say “We’ll be getting up in two minutes, they said we could stay.”

Keith, used to me being a worrier, smiled and teased “Sasha, he doesn’t care”  Which I repeated, as a question…although I’m not sure why.

But the man snapped back “No, I do care.”


“You need to leave,” the man continued, “Now. Please.”

For the rest of the conversation, see this week’s “Ava’s Corner.”

We were stunned. Smacked. Spanked. Ava looked from our  burning faces, back to this man, back to us again. He just continued to glare at us. Waiting. We gathered our stuff for the second time, tail tucked between our legs and headed to the next table – not in a gazebo – where we (drum roll) finally finished our Polish dessert in peace.

So what did I learn about world peace in this afternoon at the park?

Much of what we say simply boils down to the delivery.  A warm smile go a long, long way. Saying “please” and “thank you” with heart make all the difference.

Let’s make our days a little kinder, shall we? Especially when we wield powerful gators.

That being said, in the end the Polish were right… “Without work, there won’t be supper.”

Or Polish apple pie, as it were.

Cheese & Potato Pierogi [Recipe] 

What I love most about this dish:

Pierogi are the ultimate in comfort food. From the sweet, haunting flavor of caramelized onion, to the sharp bite of cheddar cheese and sweet potatoes, there’s nothing better. Mr Picky was all about these – the scent of them frying in butter drew him in the garage several times to see if they were done.

What I love least about this dish:

Miss Ava has eaten pierogi several times (from the supermarket) and loved them. This time, however she was not a fan. I think it’s because of the caramelized onion (had I minced it, we would have been better off).

White Cucumber Salad | Mizeria [Recipe] 

What I love most about this dish:

Cucumber salad comes together in a snap – the hardest part is slicing the cucumbers. We ate this snack at the park, with dinner, and one other time. It stayed crunchy and fresh with really good flavor. It reminds me of a similar Hungarian cucumber salad my mom used to make, although I don’t think she included the dill.

What I love least about this dish:

I would probably skip the sugar next time (and I’ve read that this is personal preference, anyway). The tang from the vinegar is perfect though.

Polish Apple “Pie” | Szarlotka [Recipe]

What I love most about this dish:

This is a crust lover’s dream. The szarlotka sliced beautifully and would be a great treat to sell at a bake sale. Ava has never, never, never been interested in pie (of any shape or size) until now. She started off just eating the crust, but when she got a few stray pieces of apple in her mouth, then she went for those, too. It was great! I also loved that this pie stores really well in the refrigerator. It was not only great the next day, but held up well even a few days later. I think part of that is because the apples are pre-cooked, which removed most of the moisture, so the pie doesn’t become soggy as it sits.

What I love least about this dish:

Nothing… just be sure to find some people to share with – this is a large, filling treat!

Ava’s Corner


Congratulations to the winner of our weekly giveaway – Megan, who said

The best soup I”ve ever eaten was a homemade Italian Escarole Soup. It was made mostly of vegetable broth, cannelloni beans, an entire head of escarole, and a little bit of orecchiette. The best part was the mix of tastes and textures, especially when you add your ideal portion of grated Romano cheese, Italian herbs, and even olives or hot sauces. The best soups are those that you can personalize! (Vietnamese pho or your recipe for Burmese Coconut Chicken noodle are others that come to mind!)

Yum. Please email me by 10/15/12  to claim your Saffron Road Gift Basket, Megan!


  1. Fidanka says

    i never like sugar in combination with sour cream/yogurt and cucumber. people from eastern european countries put sugar even in plain yogurt or sour cream, so it is matter or taste and food culture…

    • Sasha Martin says

      Yes, exactly. In so many cases it’s a situation of what we grow up knowing…

  2. You don’t need to add sugar to mizeria. My grandmother (she was born in eastern Poland, now Belarus) prepares it with sour cream and/or yogurt, salt and spring onions (or even onions). No vinegar, no sugar. And that is the version I like the most 🙂

    Anyways, great blog!

    Greetings from Gdansk, Poland!

    • Sasha Martin says

      Nice to hear from you Anna… Your grandmother’s version sounds wonderful – I love the idea of green onion (is that what you mean by spring onion?)

      • I think what I meant was chives. Sorry. But any kind of ‘onions’ will do. 🙂

        • Sasha Martin says

          I love chives but never can seem to find them in my grocery store… it’s really strange.

  3. Megan says

    Just watched the video. Three thoughts: 1-that looked delicious! 2- I so need to do the apple cake dance way more! 3- what a jerk! He could have been polite, and he may have scored a piece of apple cake! Guess it goes back to being the good you want to see in the world!

    • Sasha Martin says

      Funny thing – the thought crossed my mind. He cut me off too many times for me to try it though…. I had whiplash from his words and didn’t want to risk it again haha.

  4. amanda says

    Ava is a cutie!

    I’m sorry the park guy was nasty to you. There is a lot to be said for politeness and presentation! Kudos to you for not being mean in return.

    • Sasha Martin says

      In the end we can only control ourselves… I could tell he was just trying to do his job and maybe was used to dealing with angry people… so I did try to have sympathy.

  5. Megan says

    I can normally find chives at Reasor’s above the mushrooms! Glad you didn’t get upset, but he was acting like a bully!

  6. Nancy G. Parisi says

    Enjoyed looking over your blog. We make pierogi with either potatoes or kapusta….sauerkraut. I cannot give quanity, but mash potatoes, add carmelized onion, sour cream and cottage cheese., salt and pepper My mother made huge amounts (as we would slip in beside her and snatch a spoonful of filling) of this filling and many, many dumplings — I know this is very authentic as I served this to a couple of Polish exchange students a couple of years ago. They said I had it right.
    The kapusta filling was made with 2 parts cooked, drained and ground sauerkraut, and 1 part cooked, drained cabbage, also ground…carmelized chopped onion and salt and pepper were added. These days we use a food processor rather than a grinder. We ate both kinds with a drizzle of browned butter over them. We only sauted them when we warmed them up the next day.
    Grampa loved the prune dumplings, but I never noticed anyone else eating them. The dough was made with eggs, flour and water….that’s it. Rolled not quite a thick as your pictures. The cucumber salad was made with onion, sliced thin, salt, pepper, vinegar and a bit of oil. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

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