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“With Baba’s Blessing…Smachnoho”: Gift-worthy family treasures to enjoy!

May 5, 2022 | News, Canada, Featured

Lidia M. Wasylyn for New Pathway – Ukrainian News, Edmonton.

As “April showers bring us May flowers” so too come graduation and wedding season. In a few weeks we will be challenged to find a thoughtful and meaningful gift for important people in our lives. If you are celebrating a young person going off to university, a graduate moving away for their first professional job or a couple just starting off in their life together, look no further that the UCWLC cookbook, “With Baba’s Blessing…Smachnoho.”

Food and eating together with family or friends are powerful metaphors. Food is more than purely nourishment for the body. It is an expression of one’s identity and place in a social structure. It includes creativity and tradition. Food and eating are tools of celebration since most important life events are celebrated around food and the ways in which we prepare them. Food helps preserve and maintain our cultural heritage. It is a language of love and knowledge passed down from one generation to the next. Preparing foods originating in our families’ shared experiences sustain our souls and remind us of who we are and where our families have come from.
A significant investment of time and dogged determination brought this cookbook to fruition launching it in March 2019. It has an interesting origin story. Former UCWLC Edmonton Eparchy President, Natalka Yanitski gathered a multitude of traditional Ukrainian recipes for a multicultural initiative by the Government of Alberta back in 1975.

It is unknown what happened with the provincial initiative but in 2012, almost four decades later, a folder with the recipes was found while sorting through boxes of UCWLC archives. Natalka’a daughter knew the recipes collected decades ago were precious. And so began a new effort to publish a UCWLC cookbook.

The project was reborn under the guidance of Darlene Atamaniuk who chaired the Eparchial Cookbook Committee. An impressive list of respected UCWLC members joined the committee. Rosemarie Nahnybida served as secretary and Evelyn Evanyshyn, Maria Hontaryk, the late Marusia Pastuszenko and Natalka Yanitski were members of the committee. Over the years, the committee changed; some members left, others passed away and still others joined including Betty Gresiuk and Joyce Chrunik-Rudiak. Challenges arose, and the project stalled.

In 2018 Eparchial President Mary Ann Phillips and Eparchial Vice-President Barb Olynyk joined the committee and along with Darlene Atamaniuk and Rosemarie Nahnybida breathed new life into the project. Members invested countless hours, editing and re-editing the materials until they were ready for printing. Gateway Rasmussen was selected to publish the cookbook.

A successful book launch occurred on a cold and stormy day in March 2019. Guests braved the elements to be at the unveiling of this long-awaited book. Everyone was encouraged to wear a traditional khustka as a symbolic tribute to the ladies whose culinary gems were preserved in the cookbook. A celebratory atmosphere filled St. George parish hall in Edmonton.

A variety of delectable dishes and tasty sweets based on recipes in the new book, filled the buffet table for everyone to enjoy. The ladies from St. George Parish provided the entertainment. The first copies of the new cookbook were presented to Natalka Yanitski and Darlene Atamaniuk whose dedication and generous investment of time resulted in the final production of the cookbook. They nurtured this project from concept to reality. Maria Hontaryk who dedicated countless hours to typing and editing the materials received a third cookbook.

At the launch, Eparchial Vice-President Barb Olynyk’s delivered comments that distill the intent of the cookbook project. She said: “This cookbook is a unique ethnic culinary treasure. It is a tribute to those women, great-grandmothers, grandmothers, and mothers, who from pioneer times to present days, have provided meals for their families, with resourcefulness and creativity, while in the process created memories and stories.
Through nutrition and its culture, we express who we are, and what’s important. Those of us of Ukrainian descent are blessed to have been born to a people who cared about culinary traditions, they are intertwined with our faith and cultures, especially at Christmas and Easter. This cookbook is indeed a one of a kind. It is a collection of heartwarming authentic recipes that have stories of their own. It is personal and reminiscent of times past, a gift for those of us today. It is something that should be passed on from generation to generation. This cookbook is like the icing on a cake.”

“With Baba’s Bessing…Smachnoho” has become a big hit! Sales have been impressive, and the cookbook is now in its third printing. It is available through the Edmonton Eparchy UCWLC and at various other venues.
What better time to present the next generation with a gift-worthy cookbook born out of traditions and family time. A newly married couple will enjoy an opportunity to build their own traditions that include favourites they grew up with. A university student away from home or a newly minted young professional striking out on their own would surely appreciate comforting family recipes. “With Baba’s Bessing…Smachnoho” will inspire a new generation. To order a copy of this cookbook for yourself or as a welcomed gift for a special person, email Barb Olynyk at [email protected] Smachnoho!

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