Friday, August 13, 2010


In less than four months I will be someone's mommy. It's an exciting thought.
A seriously daunting one too.

It will be my job to teach, guide, support, and mold this little person into someone good, kind, smart, and curious. Not on my own; children are raised by a village and all this weight doesn't just fall on my shoulders. But parenting will be my primary concern and I'll wear the badge of stay-at-home mom proudly. Teaching my kids in the kitchen will be very important to me. Lessons in teamwork, kindness, care, culture, and history can be taught over the stove and oven.

Being pregnant, there are lots of discomforts- fatigue, back soreness, indigestion, shrinking wardrobe, etc. But food. Food is very important. I look forward to each meal with great anticipation, planning and preparing with more furvor and focus. I'm trying new foods, but also revisiting old ones.
Food memories are really important to me. They bring me back to a place and time like nothing else can, reminding me of how new things are great, but old ones can be greater. Recently I'm thinking more about recipes from my grandmothers and replicated by my Mom. Now it's my turn to document, create, and share them with my own family.

This recipe comes from my Mom's paternal grandmother. They were Croatian but lived in Hungary; she taught my grandma this recipe when she married my grandpa.

Grandma Irene was special as a young woman and as a grandmother. She looks like a movie star in the black and white wedding photo that sits on my mantel. She was loved by all, referred to as 'Mommy' by her seven adult children which I love.
She died in a car crash when I was 6 so my memories are limited to her outstretched arms when we arrived for a visit, and working in the kitchen in an apron with a dish towel over one shoulder. My Mom had chicken paprikash growing up, and she made it for us countless times. The sweet paprika and sour cream are common to Hungarian cuisine. It's an easy, one pot meal; the sour cream sauce may remind you of beef stroganoff. I'm not a fan of that dish but I love this one.

Our version has a twist added in our house- served with rice instead of the traditional noodles. My Greek father prefers rice as a side dish, and so do I. Rice is actually a better match because it soaks up the yummy sauce in a way that pasta can't, but you can do what you like.

My own change is using brown rice instead of white. In my experience, men have a harder time wrapping their brain around it, so I've learned to cook brown rice with a bit more water and for a longer time. The rice gets softer and loses its chewy edge, making it more palatable for picky eaters. And I don't forget to salt it, this is also key.
Serve this meal with a big salad, dressed in olive oil and red wine vinegar, and some chopped fresh dill- an herb used in lots of Hungarian cooking.

Chicken Paprikash
serves 6

3 lbs bone-in chicken thighs and legs, skin removed
1 large yellow onion
2 1/2 Tbs sweet paprika
1 Tbs flour
1/2 cup water
salt and pepper
3/4 cup light sour cream

In a large heavy-bottomed pot, brown chicken in 2-3 batches for about 4 minutes on each side. Meanwhile, chop a large onion.

And try not to cry too much.

Saute the onion slowly over low heat until soft, then add the paprika and the flour. The onion will be pretty red, that's what you want. Return the chicken to the pot and add the water to moisten, as well as salt and pepper. Cover and simmer over low heat for about 1 hour.

When the meat is cooked through, remove it and skim as much as you can from the sauce. A light simmer will help the fat move to the edges which makes this a little easier. I'm not great at getting it all, but I do my best and don't worry about it.

Add the sour cream to the sauce and whisk well until combined. Return the chicken to the pot and stir well, adjusting seasonings as needed.

Serve over rice for our way, wide noodles if you want to be traditional. It's better with rice, trust me.



Erica said...

oh girlfriend- you are going to be one amazing mom. With one child who eats the best food ever. I have a batch of your granola in the oven right now. <3

calicodaisy said...

MMMmmm. Paprikash the word makes me think of "When Harry Met Sally" (which was on this afternoon) -- when Harry is putting on a funny voice and asking Sally out for Paprikash.