This was my week to choose a country for My Kitchen My World, how wonderful is that? Lithuania was my country of choice, I am a first generation American who is also Polish and German, along with Lithuanian, and can't wait until someone picks those countries for My Kitchen My World, it was a tough choice but I think that German and Polish cuisines are better known and more popular and wanted to give a little 'shout out' to Lithuania :)
The food that makes me think of Lithuania is without a doubt the mushroom. I remember loving mushrooms as a child, and hearing about how popular mushroom 'hunting' was in my family, and one of my first words being 'grybas' -- Lithuanian for mushroom. The main part of my Lithuanian dinner was cepilinai / cepelinai also called 'zeppelins' because their shape resembles an airship. What are cepilinai? A boiled potato dumpling, made with mashed potato and usually also grated raw potato, and filled with either a meat, mushroom, or 'cottage cheese' filling. They are traditionally topped with a butter sour cream sauce, and sometimes sauteed mushrooms, or if you eat meat some bacon and bacon drippings. These special dumplings are often called the national dish of Lithuania. I do not have a family 'zeppelin' recipe so I just do what I usually do, read a bunch of recipes online, and just use my judgement and available ingredients and hope it's delicious when I'm done.
It is hard to find the seasoning information for the dumpling part online, and mine was a little bland. I had read that sometimes the texture turns gelatinous and mine didn't but I could see where they would seem like that if I undercooked them. I'm definitely planning to try making these again, next time I will be sure to salt and season the potato mixture, and maybe dice my mushrooms for the filling. I have some learning to do before I find a cepelinai recipe I can write down and pass on to my children, but I am up for the challenge!
As a side dish I made a quick slaw salad that was featured in Lithuanian Heritage Magazine. It was so simple I just couldn't not make it, three carrots, two apples, shredded, with some sour cream and sugar stirred in. It was pretty good! Along with mushrooms and potatoes, sour cream is very popular in Lithuanian cuisine.
I can't wait to see what other My Kitchen My World members came up with for this Lithuanian challenge, and yes, it was a challenge! Many Lithuanian dishes closely resemble Jewish, Polish, Russian, and German dishes, so it's very tough to really find out where specific dishes originated from because many almost identical recipes have different names when made my those people who are doing their best to share and preserve a little of their home country for the future generations scattered around the globe.