Monday, June 23, 2014

Prairie Kitchens - Kvass

On summer days, I recall my mom baking in the early morning and airing out the house before it got hot outside. In pioneer times, she might just as likely have moved the kitchen outside. Summer kitchens were a cool antidote to wood stoves and long hot days.

At the start of summer, the kitchen supplies were moved to a shed or lean-to where meals were cooked and eaten. Sometimes the summer kitchen had its own wood stove, but often the heavy cast iron stove was also moved out from the house.

In the cookbook Taste of Time (published by the Saskatoon Council on Aging) Eva Hazelwanter reminisces about the summer kitchen on her Doukhobor family farm near Petrofka Bridge.

She writes, "each summer pots and pans, etc. were moved a short way down the hill to the summer kitchen. It was a log structure with a corrugated tin roof that turned beautiful colours in the rain. Here we cooked and ate in the hot sun and escaped to the cool big house at night."

Today's equivalent might be the backyard barbeque. However, we might also imitate the Doukhobors and serve a refreshing cold cucumber soup called kvass. When the Doukhobors came from Russia in 1899, they were vegetarian so, no doubt, they had a broad repertoire of cold, vegetable dishes prepared with the bounty of their own prairie gardens. According to Eva, kvass was served for lunch with a plate of fried potatoes.

2 tbsp grated onion
1/4 cup fresh dill
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups grated cucumber
2 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice
2 cup water

In a bowl, mash together onion, dill and salt until the salt is dissolved and the juices run. Add cucumber, vinegar or lemon juice and water. The soup can be eaten immediately or refrigerated for an hour to let the flavours chill and meld. Before serving, stir in enough ice cold water to make a thin soup.

Do you have an ethnic recipe transplanted to Saskatchewan? Tell me! Send me a comment and follow at

(This article first appeared in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix.)


mnazarov said...

To this receipe I added about four to six hard boiled eggs, about a cup or two of rolled oats and about a dozen grated radishes.

Amy Jo Ehman said...

That's an interesting addition. Is it traditional? I'll try it next time, though maybe not the oatmeal!