Life in Poland

Christmas in the Village

Christmas 2011 134We spent Christmas at our village house for the first time ever. It was fantastic. Rosie kept saying “this is our prawdziwy dom”. That’s exactly what I was thinking too. We were able to spend Christmas at our house this year because we installed gas heating which was finished just a few days before Christmas. For future reference – when the gas company tells you that it only takes a month or two to do all the paperwork and install everything, please know that they are exaggerating at best or just plain lying at worst.  

Christmas 2011 054We had a real tree and put it up in the girls’ room. That’s when I discovered that lights for a little apartment-tree are not enough for a big house-tree. Oh well, better luck next year. I also discovered that it is hard to play Santa Claus in the room where children are sleeping, but I managed to do it somehow. The top hit this year was Baby Alive for Rosie and Lego City for Lizzie. They were also thrilled with their room and the house and spending time together. So were we.

The girls made some decorations for the tree. I love them! It’s my Christmas 2011 “favorite thing”.Christmas 2011 124

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I cooked the usual – kutia, herrings and this year pork roast with prunes.

Here are all the ingredients for kutia. Recipe after the pictures.

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Here’s the wheat after it is cooked…

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…and after all the ingredients have been added.

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Kutia Recipe

“kutia” wheat -whole grains



nuts of your choice

poppy seeds

candied orange peel

cream at least 18%

Soak the wheat overnight. Boil in a large pot until the wheat softens. Depending on the brand of wheat, it can take from 1 hour to as long as 3. Drain and rinse the wheat.

Mix the cooked wheat, honey (to taste – I use about 6 teaspoons for one bag of wheat), raisins, chopped nuts (I use walnuts and sometimes almonds), poppy and candied orange peel (I used canned and prepared poppy seeds) and a couple of tablespoons of cream.

Kutia Przepis

pszenica na kutię – całe ziarna



orzechy – do wyboru


kandyzowana skórka z pomarańczy

śmietanka – co najmniej 18%

Mocz pszenicę w wodzie przez noc. Gotuj w dużym garnku aż zmięknie. W zależności od rodzaju ziarna może to zająć od 1 do 3 godzin. Odcedź i wypłucz pszenicę.

Wymieszaj ugotowaną pszenicę, miód (żeby był smak ja używam około 6 łyżeczek na jeden woreczek pszenicy), rodzynki, posiekane orzechy (ja używam włoskie a czasami migdały), mak i skórkę pomarańczy (używam maku gotowego z puszki) i kilka łyżek stołowych śmietanki .

I can say that after all these years in Poland, I even like herrings – as long as I prepare them myself. My favorite way to prepare herrings is with onions.

Herrings with onions

8-10 herring filets matias (as we call them “majtasy”). If they are salted they need to be rinsed or even soaked and rinsed in water or milk. Drain and pat dry. Set aside.

Slice an onion or two very thinly. Place on a plate and sprinkle with sugar. Allow the onions to sit until they start to get soft and release some juice (at least an hour). Layer the fish and onions in a bowl. Sprinkle each layer with a little white wine vinegar and drizzle with some olive oil. Allow to sit at least 12 hours. Decorate with parsley and lime.

Śledzie z cebulą

8-10 filetów śledziowych tzw. MATJASY (my mówimy na nie MAJTASY). Jeśli są posolone trzeba je wypłukać lub nawet namoczyć w wodzie lub w mleku i wypłukać. Odcedzić i wysuszyć. Odłożyć na bok.

Potnij w cienkie plasterki 1 lub 2 cebule. Połóż na talerzu i posyp cukrem. Pozostaw cebulę aż zmięknie i puści sok (co najmniej 1 godzina). Ułóż warstwami rybę i cebulę na półmisku. Pokrop każdą warstwę odrobiną octu winnego i polej odrobiną oliwy z oliwek. Pozostaw na co najmniej 12 godzin. Udekoruj natką pietruszki i limonką.

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I also prepared a herring salad with potatoes, beets, onions, pickles, apples, herring (of course) and mayo but it wasn’t as good as the plain herrings with onions.

I thought that my biggest challenge would be the schab ze śliwkami but in fact it was the easiest. I was most worried about how I would make the hole in the roast for the prunes but our butcher read my mind and asked me if I needed a hole punched through the meat. Problem solved.

Christmas 2011 026Before…

Christmas 2011 027… and after.

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Our Christmas Eve supper  – pierogi and uszka courtesy of my mother-in-lawChristmas 2011 031

From the sofa I could admire our heater (yippee) and the Christmas decorations on our neighbor’s roof. We don’t have curtains as you can see. It makes things interesting 😉

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Here’s some mistletoe from our garden that I hung in the kitchen. I stood under it for ages with no results. Maybe next time.Christmas 2011 137

Some carolers came to our door but while I was looking for my wallet, they left. Impatient little carolers. I also saw my favorite neighborhood pijaki visiting the shop owner at home on Boxing Day begging him to take pity on them and open the shop just for a minute so they could buy a flaszka. The shop owner declined to open the shop. Good for him!

One more favorite thing of Christmas 2011 is the fact that we are mortgage free. We paid the last mortgage payment for our apartment (our house has been paid for awhile) and are now mortgage free. Yippee!

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  • Reply
    Lois B
    December 28, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Sounds like a wonderful holiday. Thanks for sharing your recipes!

  • Reply
    December 28, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    I hope you had a good holiday too. I love your dough ornaments on your blog. I have to find myself some clear sealant and get cracking. If you like poppy seeds, then you should definitely try the kutia. We love it and are going to prepare another batch for the weekend. I used to hate herring until I started to make it myself. I really like the contrast of the herring and sweet onions. Yum. I saw another recipe for a kind of appetizer of herring on a beet gelatin flower. It looked like a lot of work though. Maybe next year 🙂

  • Reply
    December 28, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    I make kutia too, but in mine the proportion of canned poppy seeds to wheat grain is 3:1 And I add lots of alcohol – rum or anything similar (metaxa, brandy, whisky or orange liqueur this year) which goes well with kutia. My children don't like it, so I feel free to pamper myself 😉

  • Reply
    December 29, 2011 at 7:37 am

    Czar- Mmmm alcohol in kutia. I have to try that next time. I put less poppy this time, hoping the kids would eat more but they weren't having it. They just like the grain. They asked for \”kutia without kutia\” which means plain, cooked grains. Are your kids like that?

  • Reply
    December 29, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    I don't listen to my kids too much planning festive meals – if I did, we would never agree any menu. If they don't like herrings, they are eating steamed potatoes with butter only – OK for me. Stopped pushing them to have this and that – but they're grown ups now, so easier to give up.Before I had to make the elder one have meat, now allowing her on more veg only options – if she's happy to make them herself (usually she is not – esp since left home for uni – that's a miracle cure!)

  • Reply
    December 29, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    I really love your sense of humour, did I write about it?;-) \”I stood under the mistletoe for ages with no results. Maybe next time.\” Yippee!

  • Reply
    December 30, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    Congratulations on being mortgage free. Your Christmas sounds lovely, and the pictures add so much. \”…in the Village\”, I love it.

  • Reply
    January 1, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    I also laughed at the Mistletoe comment.. haha.. Kutia brought back some lovely memories at my grandmothers.. I think I was the only kid in our family that liked herring…..still do….Alli .xx

  • Reply
    January 2, 2012 at 2:03 am

    I loved the \”favorite neighborhood pijaki\” bit. I guess everybody should have his own local favorite pijak:) I have!:)All the best for the New Year!

  • Reply
    January 3, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Czar – And you know what was more popular with the kids at Christmas than potatoes with butter? Old, dry bread.Megi – I accept any and all compliments on my sense of humor. Thank you. I stood under the mistletoe some more over the weekend and still nothing. It may have something to do with me forgetting our wedding anniversay. Oops.Pam – Thanks for the congrats. It feels so free…until the next loan 🙂 I hope that we will have more \”…in the Village\” in the future.Alli – Our kids love herring salad. Misiu said that we don't need to do any dna testing – because of that he's sure that they are his kids, ha ha.papageno – I feel so close to our neighborhood pijaki because I have seen most of them with their zippers down at least once. That's the problem with drinking outside the local store, no bathrooms.

  • Reply
    January 5, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    We never made kutia in my home (Gdansk), I think it is a regional dish, isn't it? Did you celebrate Christmas the Polish way, ie dinner on Christmas Eve followed by the presents or perhaps do you alternate each year? Hope you had a fabulous time! Shame there has been no snow (yet!)… Best wishes!

  • Reply
    January 10, 2012 at 8:34 am

    Pieczyk – I think kutia is an eastern dish. I made kutia 3 times over the holidays so we are all kutia-ed out til next year.We celebrate Christmas with a Polish supper but the rest is all American 😉 The mixed-up holiday is now our family tradition.I am glad that there isn't any snow esp after the hard winter of last year. My children think otherwise.

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