01 February 2014


Neither snow, frigid weather, frozen pipes nor a flooded basement deterred loyal followers of the Lake Michigan Chapter of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society from attending its traditional Rusyn New Year potluck luncheon on Saturday, January 11.  At 8 a.m. Friday, chapter president Charlotte Pribish Conjelko received a frantic call from Fr. Frank Korba that the social hall of St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Church in Munster, Indiana, where the event was to be held, was flooded due to a broken pipe. 

After caucusing with board members, she called Fr. Basil Hutsko at nearby St. Michael Byzantine Catholic Church in Merrillville who graciously consented to allowing the chapter to use the church’s facilities.  The real fun of the day became calling all those who said they were coming and answering the questions about the plight of the flooded church.  By 5 p.m. everyone had been notified and only a few people decided not to join their fellow Rusyns in the fun and feasting.  Fr. Korba posted a notice on the doors of St. Nicholas about the change of venue for anyone who might not have received the message.
 Lake Michigan Chapter President Charlotte Pribish Conjelko thanks everyone for sharing their Rusyn culinary skills for the potluck.
Despite the frigid snowy day, forty people showed up with their covered dishes to enjoy the food and the company of fellow Rusyns.  After the feasting, President Charlotte Pribish Conjelko talked about the chapter’s project of helping preserve Rusyn culture and artifacts.  It is collecting anniversary booklets from Carpatho-Rusyn Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic churches as well as clothing, old photographs, household and other items unique to the culture.  Persons interested in donating items may contact the chapter at: lakemichiganrusyns@gmail.com. 

 Charlotte and Arlene Dremak Gardiner show an Easter basket cover and a table cloth donated to the chapter's project for preserving Rusyn artifacts and photographs in order to preserve them.


Last year the chapter undertook collecting old photographs, Byzantine Catholic and Orthodox church commemorative booklets, books, traditional clothing and other artifacts depicting the life that their ancestors led in order to preserve them.  Arlene Dremak Gardiner has offered genealogy workshops for the chapter and, at each gathering of the chapter, sets up a table with genealogy information and assists those wanting to know more about searching for their Rusyn roots.  Those interested in donating items should send an email with a description of their donation to: lakemichiganrusyns@gmail.com

Charlotte and Arlene admire the hand-stitched woman’s vest with half-inch orange ribbon loops used to button the colorful flowered garment.
Charlotte also noted that the national Carpatho-Rusyn Society will be celebrating its 20th anniversary Friday through Sunday, April 25-27 at the C-RS Cultural Center in Munhall, Pennsylvania and other nearby venues.  Events include an opening exhibit of Rusyn artifacts at the Center on Friday evening.  Saturday offerings include Rusyn dance and genealogy workshops, an open house at the Cultural Center, bus tours of Pittsburgh and a grand banquet in the evening. Sunday’s open house at the Cultural Center will include a presentation on Andy Warhol by Elaine Rusinko, author of We Are All Warhol’s Children: Andy and the Rusyns.   Additional information will be posted on this blog as it becomes available.
The smiles on their faces are indicative of the good time had by John Sutko, Maria Sedor, Carleen Villasenor, Tom Sedor and Alice Sutko at the potluck.
As she often does for chapter events, seamstress Carleen Villasenor showed up in the Rusyn clothing that she created—and others admired.  The afternoon concluded with John Sutko leading the group in the singing of Rusyn Christmas carols as well as Ja Rusyn Bul (I am a Rusyn) written by Fr. Aleksander Duchnovič (1803-1865).  Although a priest by profession, he is best known as the national awakener and enlightener of Rusyns, often known as the people without a country.  His initial activities clashed with the Hungarian Revolution in 1848-1849.  During this period, the priest was jailed by the Hungarian authorities when he chose to remain loyal to his nationality rather than denounce his Rusyn roots. It was there that he wrote his best-known song "Ja Rusyn Byl" ….

Those who attended the potluck had the opportunity to feast on the two traditional Rusyn dishes below among others.  Enjoy!

 2 cups water
4 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
5 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 packages dry yeast
½ cup lukewarm water
6 cups flour
Bring water, 3 Tbsp sugar, salt and oil to a boil.  Cool to lukewarm.  Dissolve yeast and 1 Tbsp sugar in ½ c warm water.
Place flour in large bowl, make a well and add all ingredients.  Knead till smooth.  Cover and let rise about an hour or until double.  Turn out on floured board and divide into 4 portions.  Cover and let rest 15 minutes.  On floured board, roll one portion into a 9x13 rectangle or a 12-inch circle.  Place dough on floured cookie sheet and spread with half of one of the fillings below, leaving a half-inch around the edge.  Roll another portion of dough, place on top of filling and pinch edges to securely seal.  Repeat for other two portions of dough.  Prick top all over with fork to allow steam to escape. Let rise for 30 minutes.  Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until browned on top and bottom.  Remove and cool on a rack.  Pass a dish of warm honey to ladle onto your plate for dipping the pagach.
POTATO FILLING:  Cook and mash 4 cups of diced potatoes; season with salt.  Cool before spreading on dough.  When it’s not a strict fast day, add 1-2 cups grated mild cheddar or longhorn cheese to the hot potatoes before mashing.
CABBAGE FILLING:  Finely chop 1 lb. cabbage and sauté in vegetable oil.  Cool before spreading on dough. When it’s not a strict fast day, sauté with butter for more flavor. 

STUDENINA  (aka studenetz or koschenina)

Referred to as pickled or jellied pigs' feet, this cold-weather dish has infinite variations.
Basic recipes call for pigs' feet, flavoring agents, spices, water and time. This can be adapted any way you want by adding or omitting items.
4-6 pigs' feet (whole or in 1” pieces)
1-2 pieces celery—stalks and leaves
1 onion (medium, yellow) quartered
2 carrots (whole, sliced or slivered)
2 quarts water
To taste:
Clean feet by singeing any hair. Place all ingredients except vinegar in stock pot and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer for 4 hours.  Bite-size pieces of veal or other meats may also be added to the mix.
Strain the meat and vegetables from pot and skim the fat from the top of the broth. If whole pieces have been used, they should be deboned, rendering meat into bite-size pieces.  One-inch pieces do not need to be deboned. Discard vegetables and fat.
Put meat in casserole dish, 9”x12” pan or individual serving bowls.  Put pieces of meat into pan and cover with the broth. Place in a refrigerator or other cool spot until broth sets.  Serve with a splash of vinegar. Rye bread also goes well.
OPTION: Instead of pigs' feet, and/or veal, use a whole 5-pound chicken, including heart, gizzard and liver, and follow the same procedure. Cooking time may be cut to 3 hours. Over-cooking may cause shredding of the meat. Discard skin and bones. Cut white and dark meat into bite-size pieces and place in pan or bowl.  Cooked carrot pieces and celery leaves may also be added.  Since chicken bones do not produce much gelatin, dissolve one packet of unflavored gelatin in the hot broth just before pouring into the dishes. Cool. May be served with vinegar.


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