Food is emotional.
The sight, smells, texture and taste all help to connect you with memories. It can be good memories, or bad memories, but it has the ability to bring up those memories in a way that is stronger than any other.
That is what happened to me as I was making these gluten free perogies for my family last night. I had prepared the filling – just like my Grandma used to do – a simple mashed potato, fried onion and cheddar mixture with a little salt and pepper. We never measure, just mix it up and taste to make sure the seasonings are right.
I had prepared the dough. I slightly altered a recipe I’d used before from the popular Mennonite Girls Can Cook blog.
But when I began to prepare the perogies themselves, it hit me. Memories. My Grandma would invite us over for supper, and as soon as you were out of the car you could detect the aroma of fried onions in the air. Getting closer, you could see the steam collecting on the inside of the kitchen window, a sign that my Grandma had been hard at work and had a large pot of water boiling, ready to cook the perogies she had spent the better part of the day preparing.
I would sit to the left of my Grandpa, and we would both eagerly await the steaming hot perogies that Grandma had made. And when they arrived – we ate. We over ate. We stuffed ourselves silly with those things. It was good food, and it was love. Now, it is beautiful memories for me.
Preparing those perogies for my family, the way my Grandma had taught me years ago, a lump all of the sudden rose in my throat, and tears set in my eyes. I miss those days, and I miss my Grandpa, who passed away nearly 8 years ago. Memories. For dinner last night we had memories. And they were great.
- 1/2 cup cream-style cottage cheese
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1/2 cup brown rice flour
- 2 tablespoons sweet rice flour
- 2 tablespoons potato starch
- 1/4 cup tapioca starch
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Filling of your choice
- Brown rice and/or sweet rice flour for sprinkling on counter
- Place the cottage cheese, egg, milk, and oil in a blender and mix until completely smooth.
- Place all the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Run the mixer to combine the dry ingredients. With the mixer running on low, slowly add the wet ingredients until the dough has come together, is not too dry, but is not too sticky.
- Turn the dough out onto a counter that has been sprinkled with rice or sweet rice flour. Knead it, adding more flour if the dough is too soft.
- Roll the dough into a log, about 1 1/2-inches thick.
- Use a sharp knife to cut off about 1-inch of dough.
- Pat the dough down on the floured counter, and roll into a circle (slightly oval works best), being sure to sprinkle with flour as necessary, the dough shouldn't stick to the counter or your rolling pin. The dough is rolled to about 1/16" thick, or slightly thinner.
- Using a pastry brush, moisten the edge of half the circle with water.
- Spoon your filling onto that half. Not too much, or your dough won't reach over.
- Using the outside of your hand, press the dough together, being sure to start at the filling and working out so that you don't trap any air in the dough.
- Place a small bowl with a sharp edge over the perogy, cutting the edge of the dough into a nice semi-circle.
- Double check that the seam is sealed, and place perogy on a baking pan lined with a lint-free cloth (I used paper towels this time). Once the pan is full, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. At this point, the perogies could be frozen for another time. Just place in the freezer, and then store in zipper-seal bags once they are frozen.
- By rolling the dough for each perogy out separately, you don't have to deal with a large piece of dough, and a lot of scraps. The small pieces that you cut off of the edge during sealing can be kneaded together and re-used, giving you nearly no waste. This is the technique my Grandma taught me, I think it's genius.
- To cook the perogies, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Boil only a few perogies at a time, or the temperature of your water will drop too much. The perogies will sink when you put them in the water, gently stir them to make sure they are not sticking on the bottom of the pot or to each other. Let the water come to a full boil again. The perogies are done when they are floating. I usually let them boil for another minute or so after they begin floating, but you don't want to over cook them either.
- Carefully remove perogies from the boiling water with a slotted spoon, placing them on a parchment lined baking sheet that has also been lightly greased. Be sure they are not touching each other, or they will stick. You can either drizzle them with melted butter, or spray them with a little cooking spray to keep them from sticking to each other.
- If you wish, you can fry them at this point, and serve fried perogies. We always eat them at this stage, and fry the leftovers.
There are endless filling options. You can make them sweet, savoury, filled with cottage cheese, or in season berries. The possibilities are endless.
SUBSTITUTIONS: The recipe was prepared, and a huge success, as written. I am unable to make the dough using every possible substitution available, so I am not able to advise on what changes would make this recipe a success. Feel free to experiment, and if something works for you (or doesn’t), please come back and comment so that others can learn from your experience. Thank you!
What is one food that really sparks a lot of memories for you? Please let me know, I’d love to hear your stories.