Picnic Polish style and a cake for lazy people

To celebrate the arrival of our stepdads sister (let’s call her The Lovely R) from Poland, a picnic was organised at the lovely McKell Park in Brooklyn, a mere 25 minute drive from the homestead. This cute wee park is leafy and green, has a number of picnic tables and overlooks the beautiful Hawkesbury River. You can lounge around in the shade, chow down, then when everybody needs a spot of cooling off, it’s just a short walk down to the enclosed swimming area at the base of the hill.

The sky was as clear as a bell and the sun had risen this morning saying in its best Spike Milliganesque voice, ‘Good morning Sydney, today I am going to burn as hot as an Italian pizza oven and fry you all into tiny crispy bacon like pieces.’ In other words, it was damn hot. Carnivorous chickens roamed freely and battled with brush turkeys for scraps that had fallen at children’s feet. Frightening and delighting, simultaneously.

The best thing about this picnic was that The Lovely R had gone cooking mad and conjured up a number of amazing Polish dishes as her contribution to the picnic. R hails from Boleslawiec, a town in the south west part of Poland. I can happily say that very little cooking was done by anyone else in our family and we were all super excited to wrap our laughing gear around the amazing looking food. First up were stuffed capsicum/peppers, what’s not to love about a stuffed veggie? R had made a very tasty vegetarian version with rice and mushrooms and a heavenly meaty version. Both were cooked in a deliciously piquant tomato sauce.

R had also rustled up two different kinds of pierogi. (Yes, two, people. She doesn’t do things by halves and vegetarians by halves.) Pierogi are wee dumplings made of unleavened dough that are first boiled then pan fried and in this case, served with buttery fried onions on top. There was the vegetarian pierogi filled with cheese, potato and onion and the kolduny litewskie meat version with lamb mince, onion, peppers, garlic and marjoram. A fight almost broke out when divvying up the leftovers. I missed out. Just saying.

As if that wasn’t enough, The Lovely R had baked what she called ‘ciasto dla lenisych’, or The Cake for Lazy People. (An apt description for our family at this picnic.) A lovely yeasty, vanilla cake that sits in its batter state and bubbles away overnight before baking. She had topped it with ruby red plums and sweet nectarines. It was seriously good. As if we had not been spoiled enough, The Lovely R bestowed upon us some gorgeous handmade gifts. These included gorgeous ceramic glazed brooches made by a friend of hers as well as brightly coloured adorable local pottery (which bizarrely fit in with the chicken theme of the day) as well as scrumptious Polish caramels. Please stay here forever and look after us. Please.

This Cheergerm is pondering a lazier lifestyle, never cooking again and following other people’s picnics around, taking photos and scrounging food. I am also hoping for a pierogi lesson from The Lovely R before Poland (and her very hungry husband), call her home. In the spirit of full disclosure, we did score some leftover stuffed peppers and cake. So don’t feel too sorry for me. (I write this post with a face bulging full of a delicious Polish caramel with an oozy caramel centre…hello mumma….)

Hope you enjoy the new format.

Click to access McKell-Park-walk.pdf



32 thoughts on “Picnic Polish style and a cake for lazy people

  1. I loove other people’s cooking, especially when it’s prepared with love, and with the quirks of another culture. Those peppers look outstanding, are you being fair with those caramels?

    • Such a special treat, yes indeedy! Those peppers were even better the next day Mrs Recipe! The caramels? Sure, sure I am being fair….(shuffles feet, blushes and looks away…)

  2. Get those recipes!!! Long, long ago (well and truely looong ago) I received a turorial in perogi making from one of my grandmother’s friends. They are some of the best forms of comfort food (especially the cheese and potato ones). I should probaly attempt to make them again, but need pointers! And that yeasty cake sounds fab – want to make. And…what about those caramels?

    • I sure am getting those recipes KW! I have most of the cake written down and will make and post soon and will do everything in my cheery powers to experience a pierogi tutorial. They look like a lot of good hard and fun work! The caramels? What caramels? 😳

  3. The Lovely R sounds like the most fabulous kind of houseguest! If she fancies some time in the UK looking after 2 vegans and two cats, send her my way …..😃🍕🍔🍴🍹🍝🍛🍱🍜🍲😃 …. that is if you ever ‘find’ her passport! lovely new layout, btw. xx

    • Oh my they were good Mrs M. I would send you some but I didn’t get any of the pierogi leftovers. It was almost a ‘pistols at dawn’ scenario to see who got the leftovers….

  4. Love the new look, Cheergerm. It suits you beautifully!
    And being a girl raised in a Polish household with all the bits and bobs to go with it, it always warms my heart to see food so familiar, and words that buzz about our house as easily as the flies. Food was the pivotal point in my youthful home. Even now, everyone cooks and oftentimes everyone cooks together. So many Polish recipes have been handed down by both sets of grandparents and my own folks’ take on the dishes. Now, getting my own kids to attempt some of these masterpieces seems to be the tricky bit. They’re still much happier for somebody else to make it happen.
    And as usual, your photos have me itching to lick the screen. Yum.

    • Thanks Mrs P! Love hearing that you have a Polish background and that this is your heritage. How lucky you are to have all that wonderful handmade food experience and history. I am sure that your babies (who aren’t babies anymore of course) will soon realise how lucky they are to have the ‘food narrative’ that they do and will tugging on your apron strings for pierogi lessons!? When mum got remarried, we were all kind of ‘married into Polish’ so to speak. It has been a great food adventure.

    • I know Ms Cake! All other picnics will now pale in comparison….just means more work for us next time to stay at that standard. (Unless we never let The Lovely R go back to Poland of course….he he…)

  5. Heaven! Here in NE Ohio we have a large population of people with Eastern European ancestry, so pierogis are in high demand! I’ve not made them myself, but we often buy them frozen (usually the potato and cheese kind). And a yeasted cake with plums and nectarines? Wow. It all looks ravishing.

    • Thanks LM! You would see a lot of those pierogis around then! It was a magnificent spread, we are having a farewell afternoon tea this coming weekend so the pressure is on us all to reciprocate and meet her standard!

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