FORGIVE AND BE FORGIVEN - TODAY IS PROCHKA

Today Orthodox believers celebrate the feast of Forgiveness or Forgiveness Sunday, known as Prochka or Veliki Pokladi, which belongs to the greatest Christian holidays, right after Christmas and Easter according to some.

With Prochka begins the long Easter fasting period filled with many customs and beliefs, with many disclaimers and hopes to welcome Christ's resurrection (Easter), for communion and identification with the Savior Jesus Christ.

Prochka (Forgiveness Sunday) is carried with rich customs such as forgiveness, then special ritual with eggs called 'amkanje', sacred bonfires, rich table, life divination, cleansing against pests and so on.
Amkanje is a custom held on the evening of Prochka, when the family would gather at home. The custom is practiced so that the unpeeled boiled egg is attached with hemp thread and hang on a wand or a rolling pin. Then children sit at the table and knelt on their knees, and an adult brings the egg closer to the mouth of each child and the child shouts "am, am" and attempts to catch the egg with his mouth.

The custom of forgiveness starts from the Christian conception of aiding and forgiveness between people. It is believed that on this day heaven and earth forgive each other, so people should do that too.
And people ask for forgiveness from one another for their mistakes. Usually younger ask for forgiveness from the older, children from parents, baptized from their best man, and friends, relatives, neighbors are also forgiven.

Today Orthodox Christians celebrate the feast of Forgiveness, when people with raisins, orange or an apple forgive each others sins and wish health, happiness and love with shaking hands.

Younger three times bows before the elder and says: "Forgive me!" To which elder one responds: "You are forgiven from me and the Lord,"or just: "You are forgiven."

The Monday after Prochka is called Clean Monday and from then, long Easter fasting begins. On this day we clean the house with particular attention to wash dishes.

TRADITIONAL KUKUREC IN SAUCE

Kukurec is a traditional dish which is usually prepared for Easter. It is prepared from knitted lamb chitterlings and tripe cut into strips. It is considered as one of the best lamb specialties in our country. Preparation is easy, just follow the procedure. The most important part is cleaning the of intestines, they have to be 100% clean.


Ingredients:


  • 1 braid of lamb intestines
  • 2 -3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper in grains
  • pinch of salt
For the sauce:

  • 3-4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tbs bukovska pepper (chilly or sweet)
  • 1 tbs Vegeta
  • 1-2 tbs of dried mint
  • some ground black pepper
  • 5-6 cloves of chopped fresh garlic
  • water, oil, salt
Preparation:
  1. Put cleaned intestines in water and put on fire to boil. When it starts to boil, pour the water. Repeat the procedure again. In the third water add salt, black pepper and bay leaves, add the intestines and leave to boil for several minutes. Kukurec is cooked when it can be easily stabbed with a fork.
  2. Put cooked kukurec in an earthenware and pour with oil.
  3. For sauce: mix flour, black pepper, Bukovska pepper, Vegeta, mint and garlic in a bowl. Add cold water and mix until unite. The mixture should not be too thick.
  4. Add this mixture to kukurec. Then add liquid in which it was cooked. Pour liquid just to almost cover kukurec. Stir to avoid lumps.
  5. Bake in a preheated oven at 220 C degrees for about 1 hour, until liquid evaporates and kukurec gets fine flushed color. While baking, flip kukurec on the other side so both sides are baked well.
  6. Serve cut in into pieces and covered with the sauce. Combine with Macedonian wine and enjoy.
  7. Note: This kukurec was prepared with intestines and lamb krezla, I could't find a translation or the word 'krezla' in English, though it can be made without krezla of course.

PASHA MEATBALL (PASHA KJOFTE)

This dish is old, Macedonian, our grandmothers prepared it. It's possible it has Turkish roots, because the word 'Pasha' or 'Paşa' represents a higher rank in the Ottoman Empire political and military system, typically granted to governors, generals, dignitaries and others. However, Macedonia was under Ottoman Empire for 5 centuries and many recipes are inherited from the Turkish cuisine. This dish is consisted of small meatballs in a special soup prepared from flour which we call 'kasha'.


Ingredients:

For the meatballs:
  • 500 g minced beef
  • 50 g rice
  • 1 egg
  • 1 grated onion
  • finely chopped parsley
  • ground black pepper
  • ¼ tbs salt
For kasha (soup):
  • 4 tablespoons of flour
  • oil
  • 1,5 liters of water 
  • 2-3 tbs tomato puree
  • 1 large carrot
  • 5-6 pieces of garlic
  • mixed spices (vegeta), black pepper, parsley, bay leaf
Preparation:
  1. First boil rice until half cooked.
  2. Mix minced meat with onions. Add dried spices, black pepper, salt and parsley and add cooked rice. Mix well everything, then form balls with a size of a ping-pong ball.
  3. Fry meatballs in hot oil.
  4. When done, remove meatballs from the pot and align on a kitchen paper.
  5. In the same pot, add carrots to fry a bit, then add the flour to fry just a little to change color.
  6. Then pour water and add chopped garlic, black pepper, mixed dried spices to taste, bay leaf and tomato puree and return meat balls in the pot. Leave to simmer quietly until rice in balls is fully cooked (about 10-15 minutes).
  7. Serve warm.

14TH OF FEBRUARY-THE DAY OF ST.TRYPHON

Every year on February 14th, Orthodox Christians celebrate St. Trifun (holy Tryphon, Trifon). It is believed that St. Trifon is a keeper of the vineyards and inns, and also of marital love and fidelity.
On February 14th, winemakers go to the vineyards for the first time in the new calendar year and begin to cut vines, and it is believed that St. Trifon on his day sticks a torch in the ground and the snow begins to melt. Many believe that spring begins on this day and that nature and love among people wake up. If rain falls on the feast of St. Trifon, plum will have a good harvest.
People relate different customs and stories to this holiday. Snow can still surprise you, but it is considered a symbol of prosperity.

Legend says that St. Tryphon was born in the village Kampsadi in Phrygia and lived in the third century. His parents were poor, and since he was a child he kept geese of wealthy locals for a piece of bread. A legend, however, says that he had healing powers since childhood and the Roman Emperor Gordian, whose daughter Gordijana was mentally ill, learned about  his abilities and none of the doctors could help her. In such a situation, the legend tells that once the evil spirit spoke from her and that no one could expel him except Tryphon. But, the king didn't know which Trifon is the healer so he ordered to bring all man named Trifon and try to cure his daughter. After some time, Phrygia king's army found the small and modest boy Tryphon and took him to the emperor in Rome. Poor boy will instantly heal the girl, and the king will richly reward him, but the boy on his return to home gave away all the gifts to the poor. When he returned to his village, he continued to live as before, to keep geese. When the new king Dakij heard about his powers, as a great opponent of Christianity, he orders to close the boy in a cell and to expose him to great torture. But Tryphon shall bear all tortures until he was stabbed with a sword. He was only 18 years old.
According to another version, St. Tryphon was tied to a horse and dragged on rocks and thorns, and died before the act of execution.

St. Tryphon is being celebrated in the Orthodox world for centuries. He is being honored by many guilds, primarily bartenders and winemakers and growers because he is a protector of wine and vine. It is said that on this day, good innkeepers give free wine to guests.

EASY AND FAST BABKA CAKE

I love babka cake, I like its shape and usually the cake is very tasty. I know this recipe since my mom prepared it in a pan. When I was a kid, babka molds didn't existed, so we baked it in a regular pan. I've tried different recipes for preparing babka cake and many times it turned out badly. Sometimes it bakes only on the sides and stays unbaked in the middle, sometimes it overlaps the mold and makes mess in my oven, I hate that. This recipe is the best, cake turns out just the way it should be, evenly baked and fills the mold perfectly.

Ingredients:
  • 3 eggs
  • 8 tablespoons sugar
  • 200 ml milk
  • 100 ml oil
  • 15 tablespoons flour
  • 1 sachet baking powder
  • 50 g grated chocolate for cooking
  • a handful of crushed nuts

Preparation:
  1. Beat eggs and sugar.
  2. Add milk, oil and gradually add flour and baking powder.
  3. Add walnuts and grated cooking chocolate and mix.
  4. Coat the mold for babka with butter and pour the mixture.
  5. Bake in preheated oven at 200 C degrees around half an hour. Check with toothpick if it's ready.
  6. Leave to cool, then remove from the mold and cut in pieces. If desired, sprinkle with powdered sugar before cutting.