…with the Toronto Star, no less: Estonian cuisine via grandma.
Mine on the other hand, is deeply reluctant to share.
I have her recipe for apple cake: “It’s a sweet dough, with yeast and cardamom. Then apples and some sugar and flour on top.” Okay then! I did attempt this “recipe” once. What I made was yummy, but resembled her applecake not at all. I’ve clipped the recipe from the Star article, but it doesn’t sound right either. Ah well, at least experimenting is a tasty process.
Or I could try her buttermilk pancake recipe, which is something like: “Some buttermilk, flour, and sugar. Then cook it.” Right.
It took my mother — who is not Estonian — something like fifteen years and two tries to extract a usable version of the Christmas cookie recipe (which makes 200 dozen tiny cookies, all brushed carefully with egg white, all with a tiny piece of citrus peel on top, if you do it whole hog. Estonians don’t mess around with the desserts.). Even then Grandma didn’t mention that she usually doubles a bunch of the seasonings; this pearl of information took another ten years.
I’m not sure whether she thinks we’re just asking to be polite, or whether she’d really rather we not even attempt to make them since in her mind we’re probably incompetent in the kitchen, or what. I have a suspicion she amuses herself to tears thinking about us struggling with the vague little clues she drops. Which in turn amuses me. The whole thing is just funny — frustrating, but inherently farcical, and I can’t help but laugh as I play my part.
Recently Grandma gave my mom the recipe for pasha, an Easter dessert. Well, sort of. Grandma wrote it down in Estonian. She actually wrote it down! A first! But there were no instructions, just a list of ingredients. Mom’s trying to make it, now, and (as was revealed in a series of progress-note emails) apparently it needs to be wrapped in cheesecloth, pressed and drained at a certain point, which Grandma didn’t mention.
The whole thing makes me giggle helplessly. I’m sure I’ll be hooting loudly and wiping my eyes when I turn my first pasha attempt out of the cheesecloth. The stuff can’t help but be good, given the ingredients in it. But I’m sure it won’t resemble Grandma’s — not a bit.