Later this afternoon I plan to make one of our family’s favourite cakes – Polish Poppy Seed Cake. Here’s our recipe should you want to try making it yourself. This recipe can equally be used to make muffins or cupcakes.
Ingredients needed for Polish Poppy Seed Cake.
200 grams butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
200 grams golden caster sugar
200 grams self-raising flour
3 lemons, zested
2 tbsp poppy seeds
150g natural yoghurt
- Heat oven to 170 / 180 centigrade. Grease and line the base of a deep cake tin
- Add butter and sugar to a bowl and mix until fluffy. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and mix again. Spoon al the ingredients into the tin and smooth over the top. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove, and leave to cool on a wire rack.
Introduced in the 1970s and existing right through until the early 1990s in Poland was a chain of ‘Internal Export’ shops named Pewex (Przedsiębiorstwo Eksportu Wewnętrznego). An unusual name as the letter x is not present in the Polish alphabet. These shops sold otherwise unobtainable western goods in exchange for Western currencies, such as German Deutschmarks, United States Dollars or bank cheques issued by the state-owned bank PEKAO. Polish zloties were not accepted. Pewex shops could be found in virtually every town in Poland were the only stores selling foreign goods during the communist period.
Despite this any Pole of a certain age will probably still have a soft spot for these PEWEX stores where everything from toilet rolls to colour televisions and imported Marlboro cigarettes could be purchased by anyone in possession of enough hard currency. In addition to imported goods, Pewex shops also sold high quality Polish products including vodka and Krakus brand goods such as tinned ham.
The Pewex chain of shops was privatised in the early 1990s and soon afterwards went bankrupt.
A scan of part of a postcard sent to us by a family member who served in the Polish army in the late 1990s.
I heard on the radio a moment ago that it has just been agreed that the American army will make use of existing Polish military complexes to store heavy equipment and munitions in and around Drawsko Pomorskie, Skwierzyna, and Choszczno in the west of Poland. Additionally, the US military will increase their presence at an air base in Łask, central Poland. These new facilities it is reported will allow the US army sufficient space to achieve both Poland’s and America’s common defence aims and enable the rapid deployment of soldiers in any future conflict. This new development is a continuation of the growing military cooperation between Poland, the US, and their western European NATO allies in recent years.
A set of Polish airforce, army, and navy postage stamps issued by the Polish Post Office in 2013.
Lipton Yellow Label Black Tea in our preferred glass mug! In the background are some dried Borowik mushrooms being weighed.
Lipton Yellow Label Tea is probably the most popular and liked black tea in Poland. Almost always drunk without milk. Sometimes with a slice of lemon. But in the majority of Polish households, ours included, black tea is most commonly made with just with hot water and a teabag!
At the time of the Viking migrations and expeditions from what is now Denmark and Norway to western European countries such as England, Scotland, Ireland, and Iceland, Vikings from present-day Sweden were making their way eastward to areas like Poland, Ukraine and Russia.
A phonecard from 1999 commemorating the annual Viking Festival held in Wolin, Poland.
Selected facts about Vikings in Poland:
- Perhaps controversially some believe that Mieszko I (c.932-992) was himself of Viking stock!
- Archaeologists have found traces of Viking settlement and the graves of Scandinavian warriors in Wolin, Lubon, Bodzia.
- The island of Wolin in Western Pomerania is home to Europe’s biggest Germanic-Slavic Viking festival.
- Wikingowie is the Polish word for Vikings!
Totally fresh and fully organic vegetables being sold on a stall at the fair last weekend.
Last weekend we paid a visit to an agricultural fair, which takes place just down the road from us here in Lubuskie, in the far west of Poland. Here are a few cellphone snaps taken on a wander around the grounds in the few minute’s we had away from our geese.
Large bags of red peppers for sale. Smallholders and farmers sell whatever they have at tis sort of fair. Often in a fairly disorganised way.
A harvest festival display made by a lady in her late 80s. Mushroom season has now very much begun!
The first of this year’s pick of wild mushrooms have now dried and are about to be put in store. Dried mushrooms, kept in a sealed container, will happily keep for up to a year, so will be used over the coming winter and beyond.
Here are a couple pictures of some of our dried Porcini (borowiki) and Bay Bolete (podgrzybek) mushrooms. All have been picked over the last week or two by our family in the forests of the province of Lubuskie in the far west of Poland.
Dried mushrooms are re-hydrated by soaking in boiling water for about 30 minutes and used in Polish dishes such as Bigos (Hunter’s Stew) and Polish Wild Mushroom Soup.
A former Synagogue transformed in to a Chinese Shop
Three photographs of what was the pre-war synagogue for the town of Meseritz (Miedzyrzecz) in Lubuskie, western Poland. It has recently been transformed into a Chinski Sklep (a shop selling all manner of cheap imports from China).
A closeup of the exterior of the former Synagogue, now the ‘Wielki Chinski Sklep’.
The synagogue in Miedzyrzecz was built between 1825 and 1827, on the site of an earlier synagogue, and served the Jewish population of the town. It went out of use as a place of worship around 1940 and was used as a storeroom until the end of the war. In 1945 the building was nationalized and used for a variety of uses before falling in to a state of disrepair. In the 1990s there was some extended discussion of the building being used as a Jewish museum but unfortunately this never materialised. It was sold to a private entrepreneur about ten years ago. Following which it was extensively renovated with the aim of using the space for office or retail purposes. It is now in use as a Chinese Shop selling everything from clothing to toys.
The only visible sign that this was once a place of worship for the Jewish population of Meseritz / Miedzyrzecz.
See also: Pre-war images of the Synagogue in Meseritz / Miedzyrzecz.