"At the center of the universe is a loving heart that continues to beat and that wants the best for every person. Anything we can do to help foster the intellect and spirit and emotional growth of our fellow human beings, that is our job. Those of us who have this particular vision must continue against all odds. Life is for service." ~Mr. Fred Rogers

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Celebrating St. Varenyky Day

My favourite Ukrainian comfort food has got to be Varenyky. I still remember the first time I tried Mama Lecia's freshly cooked, perfectly soft, sweet cheese filled varenyky with kalina berry sauce and sour cream on top! That day I fell in love with the Ukrainian filled dumplings and have been hooked ever sense. 

Monday was St. Andrew's Day in Ukraine, but probably better known as the Varenyky Holiday. Pretty much every Ukrainian name has a Saint and a "day", but only Andrew's day is filled with such delicious and "all knowing" treats. I was invited to celebrate my final night in Kolky for 2011 in style with a Varenyky-Making-Party with my Counterparts and some friends.

In the process of making the "Surprise" Varenyky
Most commonly, varenyky is filled with mashed potatoes. Other fillings include liver, onions, mushrooms, berries, and cheese. Our first round were my favourite, mashed potatoes, but then the second round, after the meal is finished, the surprise ones come out!

Had at work filling some with sweet sunflower seed mash!

Preparing Dinner

Our surprises included cotton, salo (pig fat), a black bean, a hunk of onion, apple, or pear, and even notes! 

Some of the surprise filling!

Chopping up the salo (pig fat), onions, apples, and pears!

Yes, it quickly turned into a 9-shot feast, but there is no complaining when chasing with varenyky.

Quite the table...without the main dish yet!

Usually, the holiday is for children, but why can't the adults have some fun? Girls usually put notes with boys names in their dumplings, and the first name they get will be their husband. We put fortunes and well wishes in ours.

Surprise! I got a note!

"Be Wealthy"

Another note found!

"Good Luck!"

"Merry Christmas!"

Finally, Sveta got a note!

The perfect last night in Kolky for 2011...celebrating with some of my favourite people, eating some of my favourite food! 

But why was Monday my last night in Kolky for 2011 you might be asking yourself!? Well, Tuesday night I took the train to Kyiv and greeted Group 42 at their Transition to Service Conference and Swearing-In Ceremony on Wednesday and today. It was a fun opportunity to meet the new Volunteers, share a little of my experience, and reflect on my past year at site. I still can't believe that a year ago, I swore in and moved to Kolky. Tomorrow is my mid-service medial check-up and dentist appointment and Saturday I will be back in Colorado (!!!) spending some time at home for the holidays. Look forward to some Stateside posts in the near future for sure!

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