From 1891 to 1914, more than 170,000 Ukrainians immigrated to Canada, one quarter of them settling in Saskatchewan. Most came from the provinces of Galicia and Bukovyna, which at that time were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, an area that was poor and over-populated under a feudal farming system. Canada promised a better future. In Saskatchewan, Ukrainian families tended to settle in close-knit communities in the parklands where there was wood for their buildings and their stoves.
One of the authors is Marie Kishchuk, whose mother, Mary Maduke, helped establish the Ukrainian Museum of Canada in Saskatoon, where Marie was director for many years. She still cooks the dishes of her mother, who came from Ukraine as a child. A favourite for Saturday supper was baked buckwheat, known as kasha, which her mother made in a favourite bean pot.
This recipe is from the cookbook, which is available in Saskatoon at the Ukrainian Museum of Canada, McNally Robinson Booksellers and SaskMade Marketplace.*
4 tbsp butter
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
2 cups diced bacon (optional)
4 1/2 cups water
2 cups coarse buckwheat
Salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter. Sauté onion and garlic. Set aside. Cook bacon until crisp. Boil water in a saucepan. Rinse buckwheat in a sieve under hot running water. Stir into the boiling water. Return to boil. Add onion and garlic. Cook until most of the water is absorbed. Mix in bacon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Place buckwheat in an 8-cup greased casserole dish. Cover and bake at 350F for one hour or until kasha is cooked. Serve with a green salad and pork cracklings (if you can get them!).
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* Also available at Saskatoon Airport Gift Shop, Slavianka Deli (3421 8th St. E., Saskatoon) and the Ukrainian Coop (1805 Winnipeg St., Regina).
The article first appeared in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix.