Welcome to Jolka Polka's Kitchen! I'm very excited to be finally embarking on and sharing this little project/hobby of mine (an idea that came to me one memorable autumn day not so long ago -- November 10, 2012, to be exact) with you my dear and hopefully hungry reader.
You're probably wondering: What is plant-based Polish cookery? Is it even possible to create plant-based Polish culinary delights without the seemingly ever present Polish staples of pork, sausage, and dairy? More importantly, will it taste good? (Gawd, please let it taste good!) Finally, you may even be asking yourself, "Why on Earth is it even worth embarking on such a project?"
A little context and back story may be in order. I am a cycling vegetarian, of sorts. Yes, I ride a bike with many a colorful vegetable, fruit, grain, and legume bounty in my basket, but that is not what I mean. What I mean is that I repeatedly dabble with plant-based eating every several years or so. Sure, I lapse every once in a while (okay, a lot), but I return to plant-based eating with remarkable regularity. And, that is what matters, my dear friend, because that is what brings me (and you) here.
Long story short (I knew a woman years ago who had a gift of the gab, she used this expression often; I'm pretty sure that she did not know what it meant because her stories were never short. But, I digress...), over a year ago after many years of being a lapsed plant-based eater, I felt compelled once again to eat healthier, more nutritiously, and more responsibly for myself and for the planet. So, I started eating "vegetarian before dinner" an adaptation of Mark Bittman's Vegan Before 6. At the same time, I started researching and reading up on plant-based eating, and slowly but surely, my own eating habits also morphed into being a "vegan before 6". Absolutely pivotal in my plant-based conversion were: Dr. Joel Furhman's, Eat for Health; Dr. Michael Greger's fantastically informative and research-based web-site, NutritionFacts.org; the book and the documentary of the same name, Forks Over Knives; Dr. Neil Barnard's many books and web-site, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine; and Dr. Dean Ornish's historic book, Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease. So, long story short (tee hee hee), my current gastronomic lifestyle has evolved into cooking and preparing only plant-based foods (mostly low fat) at home. However, I do allow myself more flexibility when I venture out into the world of culinary pleasures and temptations that are ever present in the Bay Area. Hey, I'm human, and I like good food!
These days, as I suspect it is for many of us, my menu is diverse with foods and spices from all over the world. However, given that I am of hearty Slavic heritage, specifically 100% Polish, and that I grew up eating delicious Polish food, I often hanker for a Polish meal that reminds me of my origins but that is not laden with meats, fats, and dairy. So, you see, I was presented with both a conundrum and an opportunity. Enter Project Veganize Kuchnia Polska a.k.a. this here very food blog, Jolka Polka's Kitchen: Plant-Based Polish Cookery Made with Love.
Again, a little context and back story is in order. In 1979, my aunt and uncle presented our family with a copy of Maria Librowska's 1979 edition of Kuchnia Polska, a seminal and classic Polish cookbook, if not the Polish cookbook of an era, as a going away gift.
|My copy of Kuchnia Polska.|
Somehow over the years, I have come to hold our family's copy of Kuchnia Polska. The first sentence of the book reads: "Wzrost i rozwój człowieka, fizyczna i tak zwane samopoczucie wynikają w dużej mierze ze sposobu odżywiania się" (Translation: "The growth and development of humans, both our physical growth and our so-called well-being, largely stem from diet.") Our copy of the book was lovingly inscribed by my aunt and uncle,"-- aby gotując te wspaniałe potrawy wspomnieli o nas" (Translation: "Cook these wonderful dishes remembering us.")
|"Wzrost i rozwój człowieka ..."|
|"Cook these wonderful dishes remembering us."|
So, it is with love and very fond memories that I will attempt to veganize and nutrify traditional Polish dishes into healthier plant-based versions that can be enjoyed by not only me, but also you (should you choose to make them). I can't say that I will always be successful, but I am willing to experiment and try one recipe at a time.