SVM Cooks! Carpatho-Rusyn Food at the Washington County Fair

Slate Valley Museum staff had the opportunity to show off their cooking skills at the Washington County Fair Thursday afternoon. Christine Hoffer from Washington County Tourism invited Executive and Assistant Directors Kathryn Weller and Amy Mincher to the Culinary Tent to make some of the Carpatho-Rusyn recipes from Slate Valley Museum’s cookbook. On the menu was pagache, Hungarian noodles, potato pancakes, and cucumber salad.

Executive Director Kathryn Weller shows off her pagache before putting it in the oven.

Executive Director Kathryn Weller shows off her pagache before putting it in the oven.

Many of these recipes were unfamiliar to us before researching for the Carpatho-Rusyn exhibit that is currently on display. Cooking was a huge part of the culture for Polish and Slovakian communities in the Slate Valley. The oral histories in the collection tell how the women would cook all sorts of rich dishes before a big celebration.  Easter and Christmas had signature dishes, which were often only made for that holiday. The families that lived in the Alley worked hard to make sure that they had enough to eat. They had large gardens where they grew cabbage and then at the end of summer, the families would rent one cabbage shredder and pass it around between them. They spent hours making sauerkraut, which is used in many of the common Slovakian and Polish dishes.

Kate and Amy tried to choose easy recipes to make at the Fair. First, they made Slovakian Cucumber Salad.


Salat od Ogarki

Dill weed
Apple cider vinegar
Sweet onions or garlic, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
Sugar, if needed

Slice cucumbers very thin. Splash with vinegar to moisten well. Stir. Add onions and/or garlic and other ingredients. Mix. Let sit in refrigerator for a few hours.

The Hungarian noodles were really simple too. We cooked a pound of egg noodles, drained them, added cottage cheese, and three tablespoons poppy seeds. So good!

Yum! A sampling of all the recipes.

Yum! A sampling of all the recipes.

For the potato pancakes, we used Marge Prehoda’s recipe which included potatoes, onions, an egg, flour, salt, pepper, baking powder and milk. And then we got to cook them on this cool griddle!Cooking Slovakian Food at the Washington County Fair-015Cooking Slovakian Food at the Washington County Fair-009

And, finally, we made pagache (Slovakian potato and cheese filled pizza). If we had more time, we would have made our own bread dough, but pizza dough from the grocery store worked fine. After rolling it out, we added potatoes that had been cooked and mashed with cheddar cheese. The bread dough is then folded over the cheese and rolled out again, then baked. This was a big hit! Cooking Slovakian Food at the Washington County Fair-014 Cooking Slovakian Food at the Washington County Fair-016

Along with the food, we also brought along our Carpatho-Rusyn children’s immigrant trunk with reproduction children’s clothing.Cooking Slovakian Food at the Washington County Fair-020

Make sure to check out the Washington County Fair before it ends! Also, come into the Slate Valley Museum to pick up a copy of our cookbook!

Also, a big thank you to the New York Council for the Humanities and Institute of Museum and Library Services for helping make this event possible!Cooking Slovakian Food at the Washington County Fair-010


About slatevalleymuseum

This year, Slate Valley Museum celebrates its 15th year of exciting range of programs, exhibitions, and special events that share its mission to collect, catalogue, conserve, exhibit, and interpret materials, artifacts, machines, and information that demonstrate the geology of slate and the history of slate quarrying and the quarrying community in the Slate Valley of New York and Vermont. We invite you to join us and... explore... exhibits of historic artifacts from the area's renowned slate quarries and mills displays revealing the science and art of slate quarrying, and its influence on the Slate Valley culture a quarry shanty, complete with all the machinery and tools used in traditional slate quarrying a geological display illustrating the natural history of slate examples of how slate has been used in the structure and decor of local buildings and as an inspriration for artworks in various media and our new multi-media exhibit HEAVY LIFTING: A Human and Technological History of Moving Slate from Quarry to Market, 1850-Present
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