Monday, July 25, 2011

Polish pottery / ceramics

Ceramics from Boleslawiec
Author: Antosh
 Here is an idea for great souvenirs from Poland!
Polish pottery!
Polish pottery (in Polish: "polska ceramika") is known all over the world for its characteristic design and durability. The biggest manufacturer of Polish ceramics is located in a south-western Poland, in Bolesławiec city, where the production of ceramics has been known since Middle Ages.

A wine stopper, my favorite :)
Own source

Polish pottery from Bolesławiec (from "Zakłady Ceramiczne Bolesławiec") is handmade and handcrafted. The patterns are painted using sponge stamps and brushes. The most popular patterns are: peacock's eye, flowers, circles and dots. Characteristic colors of Polish pottery are creamy white and patterns in dark blue, green, brown or yellow. All products come in different shapes, sizes and designs.

Polish ceramics is made of white clay which can be found in Bolesławiec region. After decorating process, the pottery is glazed and burnt in a big furnace, in temperature of 1250 degrees "C" (2280 degrees "F"). All kitchenware can be used in microwaves, dishwashers and stoves thanks to its high resistance. It is cadmium and lead free, and can be used for serving food, not only for decoration purpose.

My little spoon, my own souvenir ;o)
Own source
Talking about variety! You can choose from: plates, pots, bowls, containers, vases, pitchers, teapots and teacups, sugar bowls, salt and pepper shakers, figures, wine stoppers, spoons, etc. ... It is countless...
Many people all over the world are collecting Polish pottery, which is known also as Polish stoneware. It is a great gift for people who love collectibles, but also for every day use.

And this cute magnet on my fridge
Own source
The largest collection of Polish pottery can be found in the Museum of Ceramics in Bolesławiec, Poland.
Here is the link to the museum's web site:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


 I know, I know... People ask me all the time if I know how to make pierogi... Well, while being away from Poland, I CRAVE to make them! So, I gave them a try... few times, actually :) I remember my first pierogi, which I made for Christmas Eve for me and my husband, here in US. It was Christmas at our first home. They turned out quite nice, but next time I made them, they looked like Pokemons :)) (not, that I am against Pokemons). This time, I took it easy, and I am finally satisfied! :) The best pierogi for summer time are those with strawberries or blueberries :) Before you decide to make pierogi, make sure to have time and patience. It is going to be a little bit messy, so just have fun with it! And take your jewelry off, because it is going to be difficult to clean it.

Own source
2 cups of flour,
hot water

Ingredients for filling:
strawberries, blueberries, farm cheese, sauerkraut, mushrooms, sauerkraut and mushrooms, meat, potatoes and farm cheese, potatoes and onions... and many more :) 
Wash strawberries and remove green parts. Set aside. I didn't add any sugar, because strawberries are naturally sweet.

Mix flour and egg in a bowl using a fork (less messy version, but you can do it also on a clean countertop). Gradually add hot water, mix it in, and start kneading the dough with your hand until it is elastic.

You might need to add more water or more flour, if the dough is too hard or too loose. This part is a little bit tricky... Most of recipes don't give exact amount of water which should be used. You will need to modify it while kneading the dough, whatever works best for you.

Once your dough is ready, sprinkle your working surface with flour (the best is large wooden board) and do the same with your rolling pin. It prevents the dough from sticking. Divide the dough into 3-4 parts and roll each one until it is 1-2 mm thick. Cut circles using a large, round cookie cutter.

Place filling on one half of each circle, and stick the edges together using your fingers, and then using a fork. You don't need to put too much filling. In fact, I had trouble using whole strawberries, and I had to cut them into halves.

Boil water with salt in a large pot and then cook pierogi. Wait until they float and cook for 2-3 minutes longer. Serve them with creamer or cool whip. I usually use sour cream (8 oz.), granulated sugar and vanilla sugar (stir it well). It is delicious!
Given amount is good for around 18-20 pierogi. You can use more flour, if you want to make more pierogi :)
And after :)
Own source
And strawberries..
Own source

For pierogi with blueberries:
Wash blueberries and mix them with sugar (2 tbsp)
For pierogi with sauerkraut:
Cook sauerkraut for around 30 min, cool and chop;
Chop an onion and fry it until golden (but not brown);
Combine sauerkraut, onion, salt, pepper
and cook on medium heat for another 20 min
For pierogi with sauerkraut and mushrooms:
Add chopped mushrooms to the ingredients above before cooking
 The best are dried mushrooms
- first soaked in hot water and left for couple hours, then chopped.
If you don't have dried mushrooms, regular mushrooms will work too.
For Russian pierogi - pierogi ruskie:
Cook potatoes, cool and smash them with a fork;
Fry chopped onion until golden;
Crumble farm cheese;
Mix all ingredients, add salt and pepper
For pierogi with meat:
Day or few days before:
 save one roll/bun and wait until it gets dry
(don't cover it);
When you ready to make a filling for pierogi:
Cook beef and use grinder to finely chop it;
Chop and fry onion until golden; 
Place the roll in water or milk until it softens,
gently squeeze it,
and add to beef and fried onion;
Add 2 tbsp of bullion, salt and pepper,
 and if you like, add some nutmeg
Pierogi can be cooled after cooking and fried on butter for extra crunch.

Serve them with small pieces of fried bacon or fried chopped onion (the spicy ones :)).

Garnish with fresh dill.
I always have fresh dill with my pierogi!!!
Looks great and its aroma tells me, that it is PIEROGI TIME... ;o)

Multimedia Fountain Park in Warsaw

Check it out!!!
Warsaw held a Grand Opening of Europe's biggest Multimedia Fountain Park in May 2011.
Water shooting to a height of 25 meters accompanied by classical music (well, not only, there is also room for Lady Gaga ;)))) ) attracts local people and tourists. Fountains are busting with colors! :) Performances involving lights, water and sound can be seen every Saturday until September. The Fountain Park is located next to the Vistula river bank and next to the Old Town.

Here is one of many videos taken during the show and posted on YouTube.
This one features "Contradanza" by Vanessa Mae - one of my favorites.

Own source

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Beatification of John Paul II

"Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought..."
John Paul II

     John Paul II - Jan Paweł II (May 18, 1920 - April 2, 2005) made many Polish people proud during his almost 27 years of pontificate. In fact, Poland became known to many travellers as Pope's Country. Today, as I am writing this post, we have Blessed John Paul II.
     Beatification mass of John Paul II took place on May 1, 2011 in Rome, Italy. I watched it on TV and I have to admit that it was a remarkable moment for me. When John Paul's portrait was unveiled from the balcony accompanied by music and crowd's ovation, my eyes got wet. I saw a big sea of white and red flags waving all over St. Peter's Square, and I was amazed with the amount of Polish people who travelled to Vatican to participate in the beatification mass. I saw flags, banners and pictures with the image of The Holy Father, and I saw smiles and tears of joy on people's faces.  Approximately 1.5 million people from all over the world gathered together to celebrate his life and to be happy for him.
A little bit of Facts:
  • Karol Józef Wojtyła - birth name before he became a Pope and chose the name of John Paul II
  • Born in Wadowice, Poland
  • Lost both parents and siblings at an early age
  • Was enrolled at Jagiellonian University in Kraków closed by German occupation forces after invasion of Poland. Studied philology and had a great talent for languages - he knew twelve languages (!) and used nine of them as Pope. He spoke: Italian, French, German, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Croatian, Latin and native Polish. Impressive, isn't it?
  • 1942 - began studies for the priesthood in the underground seminary
  • 1946 - became a priest and after that, studied theology in Rome, and earned doctorate in sacred theology
  • 1954 - earned second doctorate in philosophy
  • Created poetry and plays, wrote books and articles
  • 1958 - was appointed to the position of Bishop of Kraków
  • 1964 - became an Archbishop
  • 1967 - became a Cardinal
  • 1978 - became a Pope of the Catholic Church - first non-Italian Pope since four centuries - and chose the name John Paul II
  • Karol Wojtyła and later Jan Paweł II was a big athlete, loved soccer and hiking. As Pope he would still exercise - jogging, weight training, mountain hiking were his favorite.
  • 1981 - Mehmet Ali Agca attempted to kill John Paul II and shot him in his stomach when Pope was reaching for a little girl from the crowd in St. Peter's Square (he aimed in Pope's head). John Paul went through a very long surgery and survived. He visited later Turkish gunman in prison and forgave him... Isn't it something big? Until this day, it is a mystery who stands behind that attack. The gunman changed his story over 120 times!!!
  • Pope had great relationship with Catholic Youth and was called "The Pope of Youth". In 1984 established World Youth Day in order to bring all young Catholics together to celebrate the faith. The celebrations brought millions of young people together and each time would take place in different country, including Pope's native Poland.
  • 1992 - John Paul II developed Parkinson's Disease which would progress over years.
  • He was a first Pope to visit White House.
  • Received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in June 2004, presented to him by George W. Bush - America's highest civilian honor.
  • John Paul II travelled all over the world and visited 129 countries during his pontificate. He would kiss ground of visited country upon his arrival to express his love and gratitude towards hosting country and mother earth.
  • After his death, crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square would call: "Santo Subito!" which means "Saint immediately!". His successor, Pope Benedict XVI began beatification process for John Paul II skipping five-year rule which says that beatification process can start five years after death.
  • Sister Marie Simone-Pierre, a French nun said that she recovered from Parkinson's Disease after praying to John Paul. Benedict XVI declared that cure miraculous.
  • Beatification Mass took place in St. Peter's Square in Rome on May 1, 2011 and as mentioned before, attracted over a million people.

Here is a song about Pope's home town Wadowice:
"I have a sweet tooth for song and music. This is my Polish sin."
John Paul II

Jan Paweł II will remain in hearts of many people and will be remembered as smiling, often joking Pope, who would sing with the crowd. He will be remembered for his love for world, and for wanting peace on earth. He will be remembered for his strength while he suffered, but never gave up his duties. Blessed John Paul II. (In Polish: Błogosławiony Jan Paweł II )  

One more song showing scenes from Pope's life.
It also shows John Paul II hiking in Polish mountains,
enjoying the beauty of Poland: