The Reading Council of Greater Winnipeg (RCGW) has been dedicated to promoting literacy and developing lifelong readers since 1956. We have a proud history of being a literacy leader in Winnipeg and its surrounding area. We are a Special Area Group of Educators (SAGE) of the Manitoba Teachers' Society and a local council of the International Literacy Association.
RCGW provides professional development for educators, shares resources and ideas on our website, celebrates I Love to Read month, promotes literacy in the community, honours literacy leaders and up-and-coming teacher candidates, and supports literacy projects. Join RCGW today!
The Manitoba Council of Reading Clinicians is pleased to present Wiley Blevins, who will deliver a two-evening virtual workshop, A Fresh Look at Phonics: Common Causes of Failure and Seven Ingredients for Success, January 19 & 20, 2022.
RCGW members are also members of the Manitoba Reading Association, and so the special member rate of $30 applies. For more information and to register, please see the poster below or visit MCRC's website.
In a special feature for the holidays, RCGW Past President and Member-at-Large Carol Hryniuk Adamov suggests several delightful cookbooks to help you relax and reconnect with your culinary side.
As the winter holidays approach, my mind turns to shopping and cooking up a storm for the upcoming winter celebrations. Browsing new and cherished cookbooks has had a lot of therapeutic value for me, and it has evoked many personal, family, and neighbourhood memories.
My very favourite cookbook is Traditional Ukrainian Cookery by Savella Stechishin. My family gave me this book when I left home in 1975, and it remains one of my most prized possessions. It provides guidance on how to make all the classic Ukrainian dishes, including the 12 dishes for Christmas Eve and the heavenly breads like Paska, Babka, and Kolach.
I am bonded for life with my Traditional Ukrainian Cookery, as it helped me ground my culinary heritage. Yet how did I function with a lack of photos? I had to imagine the recipes, using all my senses to recall each dish from my family’s cooking. There were a few illustrative photos, such as designs for braiding on paskas and some pen and ink illustrations of scenes in Ukraine. While the cookbook is now out of print, used copies can be found online.
Stechishin was one of the first Ukrainian Canadian women to study at the University of Saskatchewan in the 30s, receiving her BA in Home Economics. She was a feminist in her unique way and did much to enrich the culinary landscape of Canada and the role of women in the Ukrainian Canadian community. Traditional Ukrainian Cookery's publisher – Winnipeg's Trident Press, which closed in 1995 – also produced the Ukrainian Voice. Our family was happy that Mrs. Stechishin shared her favourite recipes in the weekly newspaper, and many were shared as an oral tradition or by simple demonstration in our extended family of great cooks and bakers. Her cookbook recipes ultimately continue to be shared in families and adapted in newer cookbooks across North America.
There appear to be many new Slavic cookbooks sprouting like mushrooms after the rain. Here are several to help you prepare for gift buying or treating yourself to a new book. In exploring these cookbooks, I came to realize that simply browsing these new cookbooks had a lot of therapeutic value for me during the pandemic.
A dear friend brought to my attention two popular new Ukrainian cookbooks, Mamushka and Summer Kitchens, from award-winning British author and chef Olia Hercules. Mamushka earned the Ukraine-born Hercules the significant Fortnum and Mason Award for debut cookbook in 2018. She lived in Cyprus before becoming a British chef, and her cuisine may even be one of the reasons for Ukrainian cooking becoming so “hot” in England! She has introduced the rich range of Ukraine’s cuisine to many and has drawn attention to our collectively evolving culinary heritage. Check out Hercules's online presence: She has posted several informative online cooking workshops and webinars that have been entertaining and educational.
Mamushka and Summer Kitchens are more than a collection of hundreds of delicious recipes – they are also culinary travelogues of contemporary Ukraine and Eastern Europe. Hercules weaves a tapestry of personal stories and powerful images of the beautiful country from the Black Sea to the Carpathian Mountains and beyond. She provides creative versions of recipes for both common and new comfort foods.
These cookbooks have expanded my view of Ukrainian cookery beyond the usual Canadian–Ukrainian favourites. They are helping me reconnect with dormant culinary memories from my own experiences. For instance, summer kitchens were very popular before the advent of air conditioning in rural Ukraine and on the Canadian prairies. These unique structures, built outside of the main home, were special places where the cooks prepared food and canned preserves in the hot summer weather. As a child, I loved spending time with the older women who cooked, told stories, and sometimes sang as they transformed their homegrown produce into memorable, savoury dishes and jams. I would serve as their “scrubber” for the cucumbers and their official taster for the rich raspberry jams. The gorgeous photos in Summer Kitchens evoked the memories of the delectable aroma of these special culinary places I had visited in Ukraine and rural Manitoba in my youth. I wondered how many summer kitchens now remain on the Canadian Prairies...
While browsing through this plethora of new Ukrainian and Eastern European cookbooks, I initially came across a wonderful Polish book called Rose Petal Jam: Recipes & Stories from a Summer in Poland, written by Beata Zatorska and her husband Simon Target. Rose Petal Jam, recognized as one of the best current cookbooks and awarded the distinguished Gourmand Award, combines Zatorska's childhood memories of Poland and her family’s culinary heritage. As I grew up in the North End, some of our close friends on Stella Avenue were Polish, and over time, I developed an affinity for Polish culture and cooking. I am so glad to have discovered this beautiful cookbook. Zatorska skillfully braids her memories of her youth in the rural areas of Poland, treasured family recipes for sixty traditional meals, snippets of songs, and inspirational Polish poetry translated into English. Target took extraordinary photographs that capture the picturesque beauty of summer in many parts of Poland.
Zatorska and Target have truly raised the literary bar for a cookbook as a genre for me. They also collaborated on another extraordinary volume called Sugared Orange: Recipes & Stories from a Winter in Poland, which explores the winter season in Poland and the cycle of winter feasts to prepare for in one’s kitchen. I have begun to appreciate both Polish–Ukrainian culinary similarities and differences. Zatorska includes excerpts of rich literary texts from various genres, while Target’s photography captures the particular beauty of winter feasts and the Polish landscapes. One criticism is that the font for the recipes is too small and light. I hope that they change the font in future editions to make it more legible for aging chefs. The travelogue quality of two fine cookbooks has triggered dreams about a future trip to Eastern Europe after Covid subsides.
Another newer Slavic cookbook that has received a lot of attention and some rave reviews for providing knee-tapping humour alongside creative and traditional recipes: Baba’s Kitchen: Ukrainian Soulfood with Stories from the Village. It has unique qualities that include Baba's hilarious stories from the village –written in a Baba dialect.
These chef-authors have touched my heart deeply, and their writing has transported me to the homeland of my family members and dear North End neighbours. Their tomes do a marvellous job of capturing the dynamic interrelationships between the land as text and the delicious cuisine of various countries in Eastern Europe. They elevate Eastern European cuisine from hearty peasant cookery to sophisticated gourmet fare.
Just browsing these fine cookbooks served as a form of bibliotherapy for me during lockdown. I am also tempted to do more oral storytelling and perhaps write more personal narratives in the future because of these cookbooks. I have come to realize how the aromas of the traditional dishes I have cooked evoke long-dormant memories and stories of my parents, who also taught me some of the basics of cooking in our little kitchen on Stella Avenue. As we begin to gather again, my family has requested that I prepare more of these dishes for them to sample at dinner!
I cherish nostalgic pre-holiday visits to the North End to shop. I look forward to visiting Gunn’s Bakery on Selkirk Avenue and meat stores on Main and McGregor Streets and Bannerman Avenue to purchase Winnipeg versions of the kolachi/koileches (braided egg breads), Polish poppy seed rolls, and other delectable desserts, as well as the cuts of marvelous meat to cook, barbecue, and serve on a charcuterie platter.
Visit your favourite local bookstore to explore these fine cookbooks as potential holiday presents for the culinary aficionados in your family or as treats for yourself. Contact another foodie friend and take a trip to some of these great Winnipeg stores.
We are approaching a well-deserved period of rest this holiday season. The Reading Council of Greater Winnipeg's executive is looking forward to speaking time with friends and family and curling up with some of our favourite things – books.
Our list below includes titles the RCGW executive thinks would make great gifts this holiday season, whether for loved ones or as a bit of a treat for yourself. Also, be sure to check out the Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Award (MYRCA) titles. They're always a hit with young readers.
The titles below link to McNally Robinson or other Canadian publishers. Happy reading!
Kindergarten to Grade 2
Books for Adults
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We welcome short book reviews, articles about teaching strategies, and other submissions. Please contact the Editor.