Nov 29, 2010


In the 21st century, in the time of NO trans fats, in the years of cholesterol scares, staying thin, and being just so aware of everything we consume, we 4 Grandmas decided we would invite you into the realm of deep fried yummies.

In my home growing up, deep fried foods had seasonal pleasure. On cool rainy summer days we were often given soup and fritters -- apple or plum. It was a great treat.

On a hot summer day supper might be rollkuchen (fried dough) and watermelon. It was a refreshing meal and to this day it is an Mennonite Central Committee Relief Sale highlight and young and old line up for this favourite treat.

Whenever we were having large groups over or church picnics, someone would make
doughnuts and/or bismarks and feed the whole crowd. My sister-in-law Herta made delicious bismarks and as a young girl I would walk over when she was preparing them and truly “pig out”. About 2 years ago at our church retreat we made doughnuts and deep fried them in a large cauldron outdoors on a cool October evening, and we all “pigged out”. On New Year Eve day our Mom made New Years Cookies or Porzelky. I think every Russian Mennonite family made them. We ate them on the eve and also on New Years Day.

Deep frying was not considered a problem as long as you continued to work hard. Today, November 20, 2010, 4 Grandmas and their spouses are treating themselves to an evening of deep fried delights. Our oldest daughter, who is very food alert asked if we would have a defibrillator available and I said, “No, just a plate of fruit for dessert” which we did.

BISMARKS (Recipe of Herta Koop and Helen Unrau)

1 tbsp yeast in 1/2 cup warm water with 1 tsp sugar dissolved
2 cups scalded milk, then add 1/2 cup shortening. Cool.

4 egg yolks and 1 whole egg 1 tsp orange rind
1/2 cup sugar 2 tsp lemon rind
1 tsp salt 2 tsp vanilla
6 cups flour

Beat eggs and sugar, mix all ingredients, add yeast when cool.
Leave to sit in warm place to rise.
Knead down and roll 1/2 inch thick and cut into shapes, either round or rectangle, let rise and deep fry in oil.
Ice (confectioners sugar mixed with cream and some vanilla) and sprinkle with nuts or sprinkles.
If you can figure out how to insert jam, please let us know.

ROLLKUCHEN (Deep fried dough)

1 cup whipping cream 2 cups flour
2 eggs 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp salt

Sift flour, salt and baking powder into mixing bowl, make a well, add other ingredients. Mix well and if dough is too soft, add a bit more flour. Roll out quite thin on a floured board and cut into rectangles, make a slit in centre and pull the one end through. Deep fry in oil and eat with watermelon, icing sugar or syrup. Yummy on a hot summer day or any time really.



Did you know we didn’t have Robins or Tim Horton shops in Grandma’s time? Yet doughnuts, spudnuts and other fritters were very much a part of special family times. They were frozen in large quantities for big family events such as birthdays, anniversaries, or even harvest suppers as great desserts.
Doughnut making was a special event which lasted several hours as you mixed the large batch of yeast dough, let it rise, and then cut it into shapes. We did not have the fancy doughnut cutters of today, but used a round object like a tumbler, and then needed a thimble or something small and round to make the holes. Just like the timbits of today, the holes were so much fun for the children to eat. They were usually rolled in sugar.
Once the doughnuts were cut they needed to rise until double in size, so every counter and table seemed to be covered with doughnuts as we never made less than 6 dozen. Finally, they were glazed, or dipped in sugar, or covered with icing. They continue to be a real treat.


2 1/2 cups warm water 2 cups warm milk
1/2 cup butter 3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, well beaten 1 tsp salt
2 tbsp yeast 8-9 cups flour

Beat eggs and add water, milk, softened butter, sugar, and salt. Mix the yeast with 1 cup of flour and mix into egg mixture. Add remaining flour and knead to make a soft dough. Let rise, roll 1/2 inch thick and cut with doughnut cutter, placing doughnuts on a lightly floured pan to rise again. Fry in hot oil.


2 tbsp yeast 1 tsp nutmeg
2 cups warm milk 2 large eggs - well beaten
1 tsp salt 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup margarine 1 cup mashed potatoes
1/2 cup warm water

Beat eggs and add water, milk, nutmeg, soft margarine or butter, salt, sugar and mashed potatoes.
Mix well. Add yeast to 1 cup of flour and add to mixture. Gradually add the rest of the flour to make a soft dough. Let rise until double in size. Roll 1/2 inch thick, cut into small rectangular shapes. Let rise again. Fry in hot oil.
Coat with sugar. glaze or icing.


PORTZELKY (New Year's Fritters)

After the excitement of Christmas - the concerts, the gatherings and the presents, our family life would sort of settle down to normal routine. There was time in the cold winter weather to invite guests to visit and play table - board games. Mom would usually make the Portzelky on the day before New Years. It was usually a family project and we only made them at New Years. They were special. Mom’s kitchen was small, but the 5 of us children would gather round the kitchen table and would “help” mix the batter -- then we would wait with anticipation for the dough to rise and then the excitement of frying the fritters. We were cautioned to not go too near the pot on the stove which had the hot oil/fat in it. When Mom fried the first few we were excited to “taste” them. We had a little bowl of sugar on the table and then dunked our fritteer in for each bite. Mmm - good. I can still taste that first fritter!

In my husband’s family Portzelky were also only made at New Years. In his family they had a low german poem that they would say. It went like this:

“Ek sach yoon Schursteen rookin (I saw your chimney smoke)
Ek wist vull vowat yee moakin (I knew well what you were making)
Scheine Nee Yoat koake (Delicious New Year fritters)
Yave wee mee une dahn shtoh ek schtell (Give me one I’ll stand still)
Yave yee mee twi dahn fang ek own tow gohnen (Give me 2 I’ll start walking)
Yave mee drei en feiah touglick (If you give me three and four together
Dahn vensch ek yoo dowt Himmelrick I’ll wish you the riches of Heaven)


1 tsp sugar 1 tsp salt
1/2 cup warm water 1 Tbsp butter
1 pkg dry yeast 4 eggs, beaten
3 cups water 2 - 4 cups raisins, as desired
3 cups milk Flour
1/2 cup sugar

Dissolve 1 tsp. sugar in 1/2 cup warm water. Sprinkle 1 package dry yeast on water and let stand 10 minutes. Add water, milk, sugar, salt, butter, eggs and raisins. Stir in enough flour to make a fairly thick batter. Let rise until double in bulk. Drop by spoonfuls in hot, deep oil and fry until golden brown.

Over the years we have learned so much about nutrition and “what’s good for us”. We know deep fried food is not the most healthy - but I tend to think that moderation is a good way to go. Perhaps Portzelky once a year are O.K.!!




2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp lard
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cream
1 egg

Meat Filling:
1 onion minced
1/2 lb ground beef
1 cup mashed potatoes
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste

Sift dry ingredients, rub in lard, add slightly beaten egg, milk and cream. If dough is too soft add a bit more flour. For filling, sauté onion, add ground beef, simmer until browned. (You can also use leftover ground roast). Mix with mashed potatoes, salt and pepper. Roll out dough. Cut in rounds and fill with meat mixture. Deep fry in hot vegetable oil until golden brown. Can also be baked in 400 degrees oven for 25 minutes. We like them with soup and Rogers Golden Syrup.


2 cups flour 1 cup milk
3 tsp baking powder 1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sugar 2 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp salt 4 large apples
2 eggs

Combine all ingredients (except apples and oil) in mixer bowl. Beat on low speed until blended. Pare and core apples and cut into small pieces. When oil is hot put apples into batter and with a spoon transfer some of the apple mixture into the hot oil. Fry on one side till brown, then turn over and brown the other side. Test the first one to make sure the apples are soft and the batter is all baked through. Serve with hot syrup or sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Other fruits like fresh plums or cherries may also be used.

Being a farmer’s wife, I had to take many meals out to the field where my husband was working. I remember one summer evening I made a pot of soup and a batch of apple fritters to take out to the field. I had three children, so it meant getting them all ready and keeping the soup hot. I packed everything plus blankets and a tablecloth too. With plates, bowls and cutlery (no napkins), sugar for the fritters and buttered bread for the soup, we were off. We went on the prairie highway (unlike the highways of today), but we arrived without mishap. It put a smile on my husband’s face because this was his favourite food. What a great time we had.


Nov 22, 2010

An Unexpected Hour

Each year Mennonite Church Canada publishes Advent at Home, a worship book designed to encourage family worship during the Christmas season. Check out the 2010/2011 edition titled "An Unexpected Hour" and "commit the subversive act of slowing down and doing less this advent season". Click here to borrow, purchase or download Advent at Home 2010 - An Unexpected Hour.

Nov 17, 2010

"Haiti: Building in Hope"

WMCEC Fall Enrichment Day – October 23, 2010

123 women from across Ontario gathered at Bethany Mennonite Church in Virgil to hear speakers on the theme “Haiti: Building in Hope”. Donna Thiessen shared in the morning her first-hand experience during the Haiti earthquake with Leah Reesor and Luke Keller updating us in the afternoon on what MCC has been and continues to do to help in the recovery. Click here for Leah's blog on Haiti related themes.

The Niagara Bethany Hand Bell Choir which has a long history of supporting children in Haiti provided special music under the direction of Tracey Frena.

Using Luke 10:25-37 as her text, Carol Penner, pastor at The First Mennonite Church in Vineland challenged us to ask ourselves “Who is my sister?”

A special treat was hearing musician Heidi Wagler’s story of how she has been able to continue to have hope even though she has experienced pain and hurt in her life. She was led to produce a CD entitled “Healing and Hope for the Nations” the proceeds of which are directed to MCC for its ongoing work in Haiti.

Brian Bauman, MCEC Missions Minister, affirmed the women of MCEC who have consistently support projects of MCEC as well as projects in their own communities.

The business session was chaired by WMCEC’s new coordinator, Pattie Ollies and included a report from Erna Neufeldt, Mennonite Women Canada’s president and reports from WMCEC's personnel and programme committees.

Comments that I heard that day included the following:
***It was a great day!
***Donna’s presentation and video were well done and her thankfulness for God’s safety and protection was very evident.
***I thought the program on Saturday was just fantastic!
***The historical, social and economic context given by Leah was very helpful in understanding the culture of the Haitian people.

If you are interested in more details please leave a comment and I will gladly provide more information. A more detailed report has also been submitted to the Canadian Mennonite.