Mac and I attended the wedding of a dear friend’s granddaughter recently. The wedding meal was a smorgasbord of hearty Ukrainian food like kobasa (garlic sausage), holubtsi (cabbage rolls) perogies (potato dumplings), and my favourite, nachynka (baked cornmeal). Corinne and I grew up together in a small farming community that was populated with mostly Ukrainian and Russian immigrant families, so I was exposed to a lot of that kind of cooking as a child.
I particularly remember the big noon meals that Corinne’s Mother and Baba would put out for all the farmhands while harvesting. Corinne and I would help roll up the little cabbage rolls and pinch closed the dough on the perogies. Baba’s kitchen was one big production line of cooking. The farm hands would sit down at Baba’s huge kitchen table and devour the food and go back out to the fields. We’d clean up the dishes and start cooking all over again for supper.
Corinne’s mother got Baba’s fragile handwritten cookbook when she passed on, and Corinne inherited it after her mother died in ’92. Corinne and I spent hours translating the recipes we remembered and loved on to index cards for our own recipe files, and Corinne gave the old cookbook to her own daughter when she got married. I wouldn’t be surprised if Corinne’s granddaughter gets it for a wedding present from her mother.
Anyway, this is Baba’s original recipe and it makes the best cornmeal dish I have ever had.
1/2 cup butter (not margerine)
1/2 cup onions chopped fine
Saute together until cooked but not brown.
1 cup cornmeal
Slowly add to above cooking for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly.
3 1/2 cups milk
Bring to a boil in a separate pot, then add slowly to cornmeal, stirring constantly until smooth.
1 cup of whipping cream
1 slightly rounded tsp. salt
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp allspice
Blend into above mixture.
Beat well and then fold into above mixture.
Butter a casserole dish and pour in cornmeal mixture.
Top the top with butter.
Bake at 325F until top has a golden crust