Zurek – sour rye soup

Cds 2016 10 06 20 27 41 Here’s one of my favourite recipes – a hearty sour soup from Poland. No it does not have a sour taste, but it contains fermented rye flour which gives it a unique taste.

There are two parts to the recipe – making the zakwas – the base, and then the actual zurek.

The base for zurek

  • about 1/2 cup of rye flour
  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • 2-3 cups of warm water
  • bread crust (the best would be rye bread)
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic

Mix the flour with the boiling water until there are no lumps. Then set it aside to cool. Add bread crust (it should sink completely), garlic, and remaining water. Put the mixture in a jar or clay pot covered with gauze or a delicate piece of cloth. Let the mixture sit for 3-5 days at room temperature (each day mix the ingredients a little). As the flour ferments, there will be some lactic acid bacteria and wild yeast, and you will smell the sour rye-bread smell. You can use it immediately or put it in the fridge (it can be stored for about 2 weeks).

Zurek

  • Zakwas (?urek base) – about 0,5 l (use as much of the top clear part as possible and a little of the thick floury part to thicken the soup with)
  • Soup vegetables (potato, carrots, turnips etc)
  • 1 onion
  • Sausage (chopped thinly (kielbasa if you can get them – otherwise any good German, Polish or Russian sausage will do)
  • Smoked bacon, or ham hock, or kassler pork neck etc
  • Dried mushrooms – I used about 1/2 punnet of fresh mushrooms
  • Garlic (3-4 cloves)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Some herbs
  • Salt and pepper
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Stock if you want it more meaty

Directions

  • Fry the onion, garlic and bacon.
  • Chop the veggies and add to the pot.
  • Bring them to boil with about 3-4 cups of water, add the sausage, and simmer until cooked.
  • Add “zakwas” to the stock (about 2 cups from the clear part at the top and 2-3 spoons of the thick flour from the bottom).
  • Bring to a boil, add spices, salt & pepper to taste
  • Serve with quartered hard-cooked egg in each serving and rye bread on the side.

Original source: http://blog.polishorigins.com/2013/06/26/zurek-traditional-polish-sour-soup/

Chainsaw art

When we visited the harvest festival we came across this lady playing with a chainsaw. She was making wooden works of art – but using a chainsaw as her sculpting tool. It was astonishing to watch how quickly she made these small and detailed little animals. It probably took her about 10 minutes to make an animal.

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Making art

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Little wooden rabbits

I think we should see if she could make us a guide dog!

Memorial to victims of the holocast

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In my past post, I showed pictures of Schindler’s factory. Schindler managed to protect many Jewish people during the Nazi occupation in Krakow. Today’s photo is about some Jewish people who did not survive. It says:

“The place of reflection on the martyr’s death of 65,000 Polish citizens of Jewish origin from Cracow and surroundings who were killed by the Nazis during World War II”

Sobering. If you want to visit it, it is in Szeroka Street – at the bottom of the small square in the Jewish quarter.

Schindler’s factory

If you have read the book “Schindler’s Jews” or seen the movie “Schindler’s List” directed by Stephen Spielberg, you would have heard of Schindler’s factory. Schindler managed to save many Jewish people towards the end of world war 2 by having then declared as essential workers in his factory – even though the factory was, for practical purposes, producing very little.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when visiting Schindler’s factory, but while it was a history of the factory and of Schindler’s work it was far more than that. It gave an introspective history of Krakow in World War 2, and especially of the Jewish people that were confined to the ghetto during the Nazi occupation of Poland. An enlightening and sobering visit.

We only visited the factory on our second visit to Krakow, but if you are in the city I would highly recommend that you take a visit to the factory to learn move of its history.

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The windows are filled with portraits of survivors.

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The main factory gates

Two arches

Here are two arches that I saw in Athens – both of which I saw on a fanatic early morning run through the city. The first is the Arch of Hadrian, constructed in 131AD. It has been standing for over 1800 years.

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And the second marks the entrance to part of the ancient Agora. I have not been able to find any information about the actual arch, so if you know anything about it I would love to know. It is not at the main Agora site, but the slightly smaller site where you can find the Tower of the Winds.

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