My husband recently met his biological father for the the first time. In fact, we ALL met his biological father because he came for the Labor Day weekend. So, we were all the participants in an interesting experiment in nature vs. nurture. You can see K's muddled ramblings about this weekend by going to http://randomvery-random.blogspot.com. K's father is Slovakian by birth and lives in Costa Rica (and Canada). He's a very interesting guy and subscribes to strong and unusual(?at least to me?) opinions. For example, he firmly believes we should get a goat and milk it daily for personal use. I'm pretty sure there's a covenant in our home owner's association agreement regarding farm animals. He also believes that women and children are best when seen but not heard. What could they possibly say that would contribute? *Sigh*. Needless to say, it was a very long weekend. While he and K. bonded over gadgets and software, I tried to keep an open mind regarding different cultures and said many, many prayers of thanks for being born an American woman.
One thing we could find some common ground on was the need for good, sustaining home cooking. My father-in-law cooked for us all weekend. He made a huge pork roast studded with garlic and red peppers and BACON! Homemade steamed bread called knedlo or knedlic. Purple cabbage. A polenta pancake thing for breakfast. And a pepper stew called lecho. Since I was relagated to the sidelines I couldn't capture the details of most of the recipes. My husband was the sous-chef of choice and it gave them both a task and provided a bonding experience. However, since my husband almost never cooks and did not take notes, most of these recipes will be hard to duplicate.
In the hopes of retaining some of this weekend's culture shock, I went looking for Slovak recipes for the items I could remember. In particular, I wanted to find a recipe for Lecho since that seemed the easiest (and most useful to a modern lifestyle). Lecho is a stew of peppers and spices and sometimes pork. I quickly discovered that Lecho, much like Minestrone, has a thousand variations. My father-in-law's version has an egg added at the end. While I think I would prefer the stew without the addition of the egg, I wanted a recipe that reflected what he'd done to post. There are hundreds of slovak websites in English. It look like every major American (an Canadian) city has a group of Czech or Slovak folks who all post recipes. These recipes are a treasure trove of information but don't always have enough information for me to use with my limited knowledge of the culture. Finally, I found one that's similar and adapted it to reflect my father-in-law's. I'm trying to post a picture of my father-in-law and husband just for a side item-but the upload keeps breaking. Maybe that will come later.
Lecho Lysy (Lesco Lysyva)
1Tbsp olive oil
2 Lbs red peppers sliced
1 Lb ripe tomatoes chopped
1 onion chopped
3/4 Lb smoked sausage (mennonite farmer's preferred but keilbasa will do)
2 Tbs paprika
1 Tbsp cayenne or to taste (I like things hot)
1 egg-beaten (optional)
In a large saucepan, pour olive oil and add chopped onion. Cook till the onions are soft then sprinkle with paprika and cayenne. Add the peppers and the tomatoes and cook for 20-30 minutes. Add the sliced sausage and cook 10 minutes more. Add to the pot while stirring until the eggs are cooked. Serve hot with good rye bread and butter.