Baba Sophie’s Ukrainian Cookbook
Written by Marion Mutala, Illustrated by Wendy Siemens
Published by Millennium Marketing
Review by Shelley A. Leedahl
$24.95 ISBN 9781777371333
I’m no great wonder in the kitchen– if I am cooking, I usually turn to the internet for recipes. Recently, however, I’ve started buying cookbooks. Two reasons for this: firstly, each time I click on a recipe online, I have to wade through paragraphs of unnecessary text (i.e. “My uncle Bob just loves these blackberry muffins”) before the author even gets to the ingredients; and secondly, I just love actual books, and seeing the recipe on a printed page – often beside a photograph of whatever I’m attempting to make – feels like the right tact.
Thus, I was duly pleased when Marion Mutala’s latest book arrived in my mailbox because this time, the prolific and award-winning Saskatchewan writer has penned Baba Sophie’s Ukrainian Cookbook. I’ve previously reviewed Mutala’s excellent children’s books and poetry, and I know that from the words to the design, production to the print, this would be a quality book and downright practical too (and I need all the help I can get).
The Sophie of the title is Mutala’s mother, Sophie Marie (née Dubyk) Mutala (1918-2007), who was born near Mayfair, SK. The book’s dedicated to Sophie and her daughter penned a one-page, glowing tribute. Sophie was “born with a bag of flour in one hand and a Kaiser deck in the other,” Mutala writes. She explains that even as a child, Sophie helped her mother bake and “make perogies, wash clothes on a washboard, cut wood with her brother using a double-handed saw, fill mattresses with clean hay to sleep on, and make feather quilts.”
Yes, it was a different time, but the recipes that follow include “Ukrainian Specialties, Breads, Main Courses, Desserts, and Beverages” that have stood the test of generations and are considered mainstays for many, even Norwegian-German-Irish Canadians like me. There’s also a section called “Canning and Preservatives,” and a Miscellaneous section, which includes two recipes I’ll not need – for “Cooked Playdough” and “Sugar Starch for Doilies”, and two I will: “Non-Toxic Drain Clog Remover” and “Stain Remover.”
Reading through this cookbook reminded me of visiting Ukrainian friends as a girl in rural Saskatchewan. There are recipes for Perogies, Pyrohy, Varenyky; Holubsti (Cabbage Rolls); and Borsch. It was also like going to a community supper, where Carrot Loaf, Potato Casserole, and Saskatoon Berry Pie are up for grabs. There are also many original recipes included here, like Sophie’s Homemade Noodles and Mama’s Cookies. The dessert section is the largest in the book, and I think I gained weight just reading these scrumptious recipes!
There’s also a nod to the familiar Rosettes, which my Norwegian grandmother made every Christmas, and in the Bread section, Mutala’s included “Bannock (In the Spirit of Truth and Reconciliation).”
Each page has a colourful Ukrainian-stitch graphic on its borders, and recipe sections contain colour food photographs. I’m pleased to own this book, and I’ll be putting it to use – the Low-Calorie Soup recipe looks tasty and would be a good budget meal – this week.
THIS BOOK IS AVAILABLE AT YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE OR FROM WWW.SKBOOKS.COM