Skip to content

Memories and Musings

By Cheri Sims
I don’t usually write about anything religious or political but I think we are all in agreement about the situation in the Ukraine. I feel so frustrated that I can’t do anything, personally, about what is happening but I would encourage you to find a way to help. There are many safe ways to show support and the safest I know is the American Red Cross or your preferred church; again, I urge you to be careful about telephone, email or web site donation scams. Both Fox News and CNN TV stations have announced originations with which contributions can be made and according to both stations they have vetted these ways to donate funds.

Not only the people of the Ukraine are suffering but the animals are as well. The Zoo’s across the country are in peril; thousands of animals have been abandoned and thousands have been dropped off at the established zoos so the employees are faced with caring for the exotic animals as well as domestic ones. My heart goes out to the brave people risking their lives to care for all the animals. The Humane Society of the United States and the International Humane Society are working hard to help in every way possible.

From the Humane Society of the United States; “With no time to waste, we’re prioritizing support to shelters, rescue groups and veterinary clinics in Ukraine. It is vitally important to sustain these institutions in their efforts to maintain operations and services. In many cases, they are helping individuals and families who cannot flee but are trying to hold onto and care for their pets and other animals. In addition, some groups are caring for animals on the streets. The demands and needs of the moment are substantial and will continue to be significant in the future”.(

From the Humane Society International: “HSI is providing necessary support, including emergency funds, to groups that are helping the Ukrainian people and the animals in their care who have been devastated by Russia’s military invasion. You can join us by rushing a gift to our emergency response for Ukraine relief efforts here: (  If you prefer to call this is their direct phone number: (866-614-4371)

So while I sit in the safety of my home the only way I can support the Ukrainian people while listening and watching the TV is to cook, my frustrations with the world can’t be solved by cooking but it passes the time. I decided to investigate the foods of the country and was surprised to discover that I already make some of their historic recipes. One of the first recipes I made last week was Ukrainian orange cake. My friend Gary has generously given me Florida oranges which he has shipped in each month; I have made orange cake before but never with these wonderful oranges and it has certainly been a treat. My research led me to discover that two of my favorite foods are beet soup or “borscht” and Chicken Kiev. I did not know that Chicken Kiev was actually named after Kiev, Ukraine and was made famous  by a Ukrainian Chef and is served all over the world. I have also found that we have variations of other Ukrainian recipes in our family. The “Traditional Ukrainian Dishes” website is a great place for recipes you might like to try. ( Here are a couple recipes that you might not recognize by the name but, they sound delicious and making them would be a nice tribute.

Potato pancakes; Deruny, or potato pancakes, are a perfect course for breakfast or dinner. They are usually freshly fried or baked. If you want to make a good batch of deruny, first off, you should make sure the potatoes are finely grated. Then, to diversify the flavor, add meat, slices of chopped onions, mushrooms, fresh herbs or a variety of spices. Alternatively, you could just keep it simple: potatoes and a pinch of salt.

Banush: ( I make this all the time and just thought it was one of my Moms creations). Western Ukraine has a number of unique recipes that are not as common in the central or eastern parts of the country. One of them is a legendary dish called banush. Decades ago, banush was a dish associated with poverty, but now this staple food is served in the best restaurants across the Carpathians. It is made of corn grits, fried pork fat and cheese, and is traditionally cooked over a fire in order to get it well smoked. Mushrooms are also often added to the porridge, to make the taste even richer.

Syrniki: Fans of sweet flavors for breakfast will fall in love with syrniki. Made of cottage cheese, flour, eggs and sugar, the dish is nourishing and airy. After being gently fried in a pan, syrniki is topped with jam and sour cream. It literally melts in the mouth and will fast become your favorite dish.

Nalisniki: another nourishing recipe, the filling for which can be chosen randomly. Anything that can be wrapped in a pancake can be put inside nalisniki—but the traditional filling is cottage cheese and raisins. The secret to perfecting this dish is cooking it slowly on a low fire. Nalisniki could be mistaken for pancakes, but the difference is that Ukrainian versions are thinner, meaning your filling will dominate the taste. Tourists with a sweet tooth can add jam and sugar”.

The Ukrainian National colors are yellow and blue and the National flower is the sunflower: I shall plant some seeds this year in honor of all those brave people. I don’t have a lot of sun in my yard but I will find a location for one of my huge blue pots and try to grow some sunflowers. I hope I can find the bush sunflower type seeds, they are easier to grow and are quite beautiful. We saw many fields of them the last time we were out west and a prettier sight I have never seen. I also just learned that friends have attended the annual Chicago Ukrainian Festival which is held annually, in Chicago, to celebrate Ukrainian independence. I looked for information about the 2022 festival but did not find anything on their website past the 2019 festival. ( I would imagine that the recent health scare postponed the last two years so I will keep checking the site for further updates.

Bake something and reflect to honor our friends who are suffering.

Ukrainian Orange Cake


* 2 1/2 cups (350g) all-

purpose flour, sifted

* 2 1/2 teaspoons baking 


* 4 large eggs

* 1 1/2 cups (300g) 

granulated sugar

* 1 cup (240 ml) canola 

or vegetable oil (1/2 

butter  and 1/2 crisco

* 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) 

freshly squeezed orange 


* Orange zest from 

3-4 oranges (I use the 

same amount of oranges 

I use for the juice)

*  1 teaspoon pure vanilla 



1.   Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Grease a 12-cup (10-inch) Bundt pan or two standard loaf pans (either 9 x 13 inch pans or 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch pans for taller cakes) and set aside.

2.   In a medium bowl whisk together flour and baking powder. Set aside.

3.   In a mixer bowl fitted with whisk attachment, whisk together eggs and sugar on high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. On low speed and with the mixer running, add oil slowly until combined. Add orange juice, zest, and vanilla extract and keep whisking slowly until combined. Add flour mixture and whisk just until combined. Don’t over mix.

4.   Pour batter into prepared pan/pans. Bake for 50-60 minutes for the bundt pan or 40-50 minutes for the loaves or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. If the top is browning quickly while baking, cover loosely with aluminum foil. Allow cake/cakes to cool completely on a wire rack.

5.   Store cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. For the best moist texture, the cake is best served at room temperature. This cake freezes well so if you make two loaves, cover well, and freeze one of them in the freezer for up to 2 months, then thaw overnight in the fridge, (

6.   Note: I frosted the orange cake with traditional cream cheese frosting flavored with orange juice and orange zest.

Leave a Comment