By Trish Mayor, as told to Devon Scoble

Trish Mayor grew up in Martensville, a community outside Saskatoon with a strong Mennonite presence, where she was raised with love, tolerance and an appreciation for butter. She has fond memories of eating her mum and omi’s roll kuchen (cookies) and fleisch perishky (meat dumplings) on Sundays.

The town I grew up in had a very generous environment among a family-oriented community of people. Kind and loving and accepting: That, for me, is the definition of Canadian—how we try to be as caring and accepting of others as possible.

I believe roll kuchen and fleisch perishky are very old recipes. Like with many Mennonite recipes, they’re made with whatever’s in the cupboard; you throw them together with leftovers. I fondly remember visiting with my grandparents and eating both dishes for Sunday brunch. My grandparents would make them ahead of time and serve them cold.

My mum often made roll kuchen to have with soup, but you can have them with jam or syrup, too—it’s a wonderfully diverse recipe. My mother said that many Prairie towns have fundraisers where they sell watermelon slices with roll kuchen—so it does go with sweet—but most often, we eat them with savoury soup. Roll kuchen is something I make when I don’t want a biscuit, plus they’re quicker and easier to make than buns!

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These days, fleisch perishky aren’t so much a staple as they are a treat. When we do make these meat-filled dumplings, we make a large batch to freeze so we have some on hand.

I’m expecting my first child this summer and I’m looking forward to cooking with him. I want to teach him to understand the benefits of eating “real” food (as local as possible), that food is not just about eating what you like, that it’s also about nourishing your body—and to eat his vegetables! One of my favourite things to do now is cook with my partner, who is also a very good cook. We turn on music and enjoy ourselves in the kitchen. I’m looking forward to having our child as part of this happy picture.

I think my love of food and cooking came from growing up and not being worried about small things, such as too much butter in my food. Food was more like, “This is good, and we’re sitting together and enjoying this together.”

I do think that food is love. And when it is prepared with love, it can be something very special.

Omi’s Fleisch Perishky, courtesy of Trish Mayor

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 3/4 hours (includes rising time)
Yield: 24 to 36 dumplings

Ingredients
Dough
1½ pkg yeast
2 tsp (10 mL) granulated sugar
¼ cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
½ cup (125 mL) warm water
1 cup (250 mL) warm milk
½ cup (125 mL) melted shortening or butter
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
2 eggs
4 to 5 cups (1 to 1.25 L) flour
2 egg yolks

Filling
1 lb (450 g) ground beef or leftover roast that has gone through meat grinder
1 onion, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 to 2 cups (approx) (250 to 500 mL) mashed potatoes (enough to bind meat) (optional)

Directions
Dough
1. Dissolve yeast and 1/4 tsp sugar in warm water; cover and set aside until light and fluffy, about 20 minutes.
2. Stir in milk, shortening, remaining sugar salt and eggs; mix until well combined.
3. Add flour, a bit at a time, mixing until it comes away from bowl. Knead until elastic, about 8 minutes.
4. Place dough in greased bowl; cover and let rise, turning once, for 1 hour.

Filling
1. In skillet, cook beef and onion until beef is no longer pink inside and onion is softened; season with salt and pepper to taste.
2. Add mashed potatoes, if using, to form paste.

To Finish
1. Pinch dough into about 24 to 36 pieces.
2. Flatten each to form oval; add about 1 tsp (5 mL) filling to centre. Wrap and close dough around edges to seal. Repeat with remaining dough, placing each dumpling on greased baking sheet to rise for about 30 minutes, until doubled in size.
3. Mix egg yolks with equal amount of water. Brush dumplings with egg yolk mixture.
4. Bake in 350°F (180°C) oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until nicely browned. Serve hot or cold.

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Roll Kuchen, courtesy of Trish Mayor

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Yield: 32 cookies

Ingredients
2 cups (500 mL) flour
½ tsp (2 mL) baking powder
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1 cup (250 mL) heavy cream
2 eggs
oil for frying

Directions
1. Into bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt. Make a well; add cream and eggs, mixing well. Add a bit more flour if dough is too soft.
2. On floured surface, roll out dough to about 16 x 16 inches (40 x 40 cm). Dough should be springy and no thicker than a pencil.
3. Cut dough into strips about 4 x 2 inches (10 x 5 cm). Cut lengthwise slit in centre of each strip; pull half of the strip through it.
4. Fry, turning once, until golden brown.

Watch Chef Lynn Crawford make roll kuchen here. 

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