Ahhh the smells and wonders of ethnic foods. They arouse such a nostalgia on your tastebuds, sparking memories of cooking and baking with your mother or grandmother in the kitchen as a kid, most likely on a stepstool like myself, wanting to get my hands into everything that consumed the kitchen counter. You see, as I said before, it’s in the kitchen where I truly feel like the most memories are made. Family secrets are traded, recipes are documented on lined pieces of paper with stains accumulated throughout the years, while flour sticks to not only your granite countertop, but to your heartstrings as well. Today I share with you a memory which I hold close to my heart and so begins this tale with three sacred words… My Aunt Helen. Okay I lied. The first three words should have been FIND FARM CHEESE! Farm cheese? What on earth is farm cheese and where exactly would I find such a novelty? If you understood my Aunt Helen, this would be a memory that would last for a lifetime. Farm cheese is the main ingredient in Polish Pierogi and if I didn’t come home with this said cheese, my toosh was in trouble! If you’re Polish or of any Eastern European descent, I am fairly sure somewhere down the line, you’ve got yourself an Aunt Helen. She just wasn’t my Great Aunt Helen, but a master of stories and hilarity. She was of that generation where there was a sort of dispensation for saying vulgar things, with no concept of political correctness whatsoever. She told it to you like it was and if she didn’t like something, she would utter the words, “I don’t go for that!” She was also my babysitter when my parents would go away. Cue in the horror music now. Just kidding, although as a kid I think she liked to embarass me. For instance at church, during collection, she would have this smirk about her face digging into her bra for her wallet. I would just shrug my shoulders in embarassment trying to conceal myself in the pews all the while she would just be laughing. Not to mention how fast she drove…if my parents only knew. It wasn’t until I got older, somewhat more wiser that she began to intrigue me. Her tall stature boasted her silvery locks in such a graceful manner. She just looked like history to me with so many stories to tell. It was one night in the kitchen over a cold beer in which she passed the Polish pierogi torch over to me and I must tell you, it truly is a memory that I will have close to my heart forever. So let’s get back to the farm cheese, or otherwise called farmer’s cheese. For you beginners, it’s basically cottage cheese that has been expressed of its whey giving it almost a ricotta like texture; but not ricotta at all. Once you find this golden trove of goodness, you will need a large counter space, good jazz playing in the background, topped with a cold beer and a whole lot of patience. Let the pierogi festivities commence!This recipe not only triggers a beautiful memory of my Great Aunt, but appreciation for my heritage and how delicious Polish foods are as well. The cheese filling may also be substituted with potato, which essentially is a mashed potato version with a little bit of flour. For all you sweeties, you can make a fruit compote and use the dough recipe and basically add anything your little heart desires. Families and our heritage spark such wonderful memories in the kitchen. I hope now more than ever, we are all taking the time to create such memories. My gift to you is this pierogi recipe which you enjoy and hold close to your heart as much as I do. Food is love. Love creates memories. Memories are a treasure. Treasure every moment.