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Rx: Lithuanian Penicillin? Kugelis, Bandelės su Lašiniais

In this issue I’m including a couple of recipes which were sent in by two of our readers, Ann Smilgys from Country Club Hills, Illinois and Lynn Andrysiak from Coon Rapids, Minnesota. Also, a recipe of Dr. Rennard’s ” Lithuanian cold-busting chicken soup ”, which I “borrowed’’ from the Eat Smart section of the USA Weekend magazine. I hope you’ll enjoy them all. And keep sending us your favorite Lithuanian recipes so that others can also enjoy them.

I was surprised to see all of the kugelis recipes in the premiere edition of Lithuanian Heritage magazine. I am including my recipe which was given to me by my mother and took me about 20 years to perfect. As you know, every Lithuanian cook has her own “secret” recipe and claims it is the best. Well, here is mine, and I have been told by many kugelis lovers that it is the best they have ever tasted.

5 lbs. Idaho potatoes
1 lb. bacon
1 med. onion, chopped
5 eggs, beaten
5 oz. Carnation evaporated milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425°. Peel and grate potatoes. Cut bacon into narrow crosswise strips. Fry bacon until almost done. Add chopped onion and fry until bacon is crisp and onion is transparent. Warm evaporated milk until just above room temperature (about 20 seconds in microwave on 20 power). Add ingredients to grated potatoes in the following order: Bacon and onion mixture, including grease; eggs; Carnation milk; salt and pepper. Mix well after each addition. Pour mixture into a 9”xl2”x2” glass baking pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 45 minutes. Reduce heat to 325° and bake for another 45 minutes. Serve with sour cream or just plain. It’s great!
Ann Smilgys

Here is another recipe for you from our family’s second favorite (non-diet) Lithuanian food – Bandeles su lašiniais (alias Bacon Buns).

When I married my husband, I was regaled with stories of “Granny’s bacon buns”, but no one could seem to remember exactly how she made them from scratch. Some years later, I was given “Granny’s” Lithuanian church cookbook and have since been the new “keeper of the flame” as it seems. We adapted this recipe to taste like the bacon buns the family remembers “Granny” used to make when they were young.

Filling:
1 1/2 lbs. bacon, chopped
1/2 cup ham or ham sausage, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp. salt (or to taste)
Dash of ground white pepper

In a large skillet, combine the ham sausage, onion, and bacon and cook until the onion is soft and the bacon and ham sausage is cooked, but not too crispy. Drain the mixture well, add salt and pepper to taste.

Dough:
1/2 cup warm water
1/4 cup butter
1 package yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs, beaten
6 cups flour

Optional: Chernuska seed (spice) if available, to add to the dough

Put butter in milk and heat until melted. Cool and add yeast to the mixture. Wait for a moment until it starts to foam, then add eggs, warm water, and sugar – combining gently. Gradually stir in the flour to form a soft dough. Kneed the dough for a few minutes until it is smooth, then divide into two pieces. Roll each piece out to lA inch thickness. Using a large kitchen glass dipped in flour, cut as many round circles of dough as possible. Place one tablespoon of the filling in the center of each circle, brush one end slightly with water, then fold over to shape into a bun. Place on a greased cookie sheet and keep in a warm place until the buns are about double in size. Bake in a 400° oven for about 20-25 minutes until the buns are slightly brown on top.


 

The most exciting proof of chicken soup’s power comes from recent test by Stephen Rennard, M.D., chief of pulmonary medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. Rennarc declared chicken soup anti-inflammatory after testing 19 samples made from the recipe of his wife’s Lithuania grandmother, Specifically, the soup blocked the movement of inflammatory white cells (neutrophils) in lab tests. That’s important because cold symptoms coughs, congestion; malaise – often are due to inflammation produced when neutrophils migrate to the bronchial tubes and accumulate there. Chicken soup seems to prevent this. And the soup worked even when diluted 200 times! “This may explain why even one bowl of chicken soup helps stop symptoms” Rennard says.

DR. RENNARD’S CHICKEN SOUP
1 stewing chicken or “hen” (about 4 lbs.) preferably whole*
3 large peeled onions, halved
1 large peeled sweet potato, halved
3 peeled parsnips, halved
2 peeled turnips, halved
12 large peeled carrots, halved (2 lbs.)
6 celery stalks, halved
1 bunch parsley, trimmed of stems
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Put chicken in a very large pot and add water to cover. Bring to a boil and add the root vetetables Simmer for 1 hour. Add the celery and parsley and simmer 90 minutes, or until the vegetables are very soft. Remove the chicken (reserving for another purpose) Drain the vegetables into a colander, saving all the broth. In a food processor, puree the vegetables. Returns the puree to the broth. Skim off the fat before serving. (To make fat removal easy, chil the soup, skim, then reheat to serve).

Add matzoh balls if you like. Makes about 16 cups.

*A stewing chicken, sometimes marked “hen”, makes the best soup. It’s often in the supermarket’s frozen poultry section. If you can’t find one, substitute a roasting chicken or, as a last resort, a fryer.

Note: Leave the chicken whole and vegetables in large chunks to make them easier to separate after.