Thursday, January 5, 2006


Originally uploaded by sanfranfamily.
I made them today! They are *so* yummy....if artery-clogging. But what are the holidays without a little clogged artery? I even made vegan ones for Hibi. They're so good I may not even bother making separate batches next year.

So, a few years ago I picked up a book called _Mennonite Foods and Folkways from South Russia_. The Mennonites did come through Russia as they fled religious persecution. They were there for many years, before they again experienced persecution and fled again. But I never, before reading this book, realized how much my old tradition and my new tradition have in common! Mennonites celebrating Lent because they lived in an Orthodox Christian context? I would have never thunk it. There are recipes for Paska (Easter bread) in the book. The amount that rubbed off onto the Mennonites is startling, especially given the response I got from Mennonites when I decided to become Orthodox.

There are some cute German poems in this book about Portselkje, which is why I mention the book. Here's one (in English):

I came here a-running,
My pants are ripped,
My pockets stayed behind.
Now you must give me something.
I'm looking over the long table.
What have you been baking?
Wonderful New Year's fritters!
Give me one, and I will stand,
Give me two, and I will go,
Give me three at the same time,
Then I wish you the kingdom of heaven.

I wish, I wish,
I'm only a little man;
I haven't learned much,
But still I'm worth a Portselkje!<
br />

So, recipes. First the original recipe, then the vegan one.

Portselkje (New Year's Cookies)
Dissolve 2 packets of yeast in 1/2 cup warm water in a large bowl, along with 2 teaspoons sugar. Add 3 teaspoons salt and beat in 6 eggs. Add 2 cups floured raisins (just mix a little flour into raisins before adding them), 2 cups warm milk, and 4 cups flour. Mix well, cover, and let stand until dough raises to double. Heat oil and/or shortening in a pot--at least 2 inches--to 350 degrees. Use a spoon to spoon out big dollops of batter--about 2 tablespoons--into hot oil. Turn when browned on the first side. When nicely browned, remove to paper towels or paper bags. When they're still warm, dust with powdered or granulated sugar, mixed or not with cinnamon. Yum!

My dad always used to put the cookies into a paper bag with sugar and toss them that way.

Vegan Portselkje

Dissolve 2 packets of yeast and 2 teaspoons of sugar in 1 cup of warm water in a big bowl. Add 3 teaspoons salt, 2 cups floured raisins, 2 cups warm soy milk, and 4 cups flour. Mix well, cover, and let stand until doubled. Cook as for the previous.


papa herman said...

Just looking at the picture I can almost feel the sugar sticking to my fingers as I pick one up... They look good, want to mail a boxload to Walla Walla? :)

Elizabeth said...

You're welcome to come on over and have some! :-) I always think while I'm frying these that I should invite people over to eat them, because just like homemade doughnuts, they're good to eat very fresh, but aren't all that good after a couple of hours. And it makes such a large batch!

Mimi said...

Wow! Those look so yummy!

What an interesting intersection between the Mennonite tradition and Orthodoxy.

I'm often surprised by traditions I associate with Orthodoxy being picked up by the Polish Catholics or my friend's Latvian Lutheran background (houseblessings for the former and the egg game for the latter).