16 March, 2022
Here we go…Posted in : youngstown-cooks on by : MikeZ
I’ve added yet another feature to the website. This time it’s a Blog (short for weblog) reflecting the ramblings of this Youngstown kid about the food that’s near and dear to my heart. I make no pretenses about my intentions or apologies. This Blog is simply about Youngstown Recipes – the foods and traditions we all grew up with and either loved or hated for our own very personal reasons.
I don’t know how often I will (or should) post a new blog post but I’ll try to strike a balance between all my ideas and too many postings. I don’t want to bore the group or spam your inboxes. So, for now, I’ll just get on with it. Feel free to let me know your thoughts on what and how often you’d like to hear from me.
About me… I’m Mike Zets. I was born at Northside Hospital in 1948. (Yeah, I’m that old.) and lived for two decades on Pasadena between South and Gibson. I started 1st grade at Sts. Cyril & Methodius Elementary and then to Wilson for 7th grade. I graduated in ’65, worked for a while as an Orderly at Northside, became a Draftsman at Paxson Machine in Salem, and then went into the U.S. Navy, all the while attending YSU in Mechanical Engineering.
In case you’re wondering, I’m Slovak – 100% – both sides. In fact, I’ve managed to trace my mother’s maiden name (Virus) back 7 generations to 1724 in Pohorelá in what is now Slovakia, formerly Austria-Hungary. That’s about as ethnic as you can get.
As a kid, I spent many, many hours with my mother in kitchens all around the Southside, East Side, and even, Campbell. Some of them in basements. All of them were ethnic, mostly Slovak or Polish. So there were Halupki, Kolache (nut, poppy seed, lekvar, or apricot), Pirogi (potato, cheese, onion, kraut, even prune), and cookies – oh, so many cookies. It’s no wonder I was pudgy as a youth and ended up a Type II Diabetic as an adult.
And when I wasn’t sitting in one of those kitchens, I was pseudo-adopted by the Italian family up the street. Homemade spaghetti, sauce, and meatballs every Wednesday. Nonna made the best Wedding Soup ever – and even more cookies for all those Saints’ Feast Days or someone’s wedding. There was always a pot of something boiling on the stove in the kitchen – sterilizing canning jars, blanching tomatoes or fresh vegetables, or hot packing all those jars. Two ovens were always pumping out something – baked goods, loaves of bread, or homemade pizza! Wedgewood may be good. Brier Hill may be king but homemade Margherita with home-grown tomatoes and fresh mozzarella is in a class of its own – straight from Napoli. (Let’s agree to postpone any debate for another time.)
So much for background. I love to cook. Period. For some people, it may be a chore, but for me, it’s a lot more than just a daily drudgery. I love the challenge of figuring out what to prepare and then actually putting it all together, finishing it all at the same time, and finally sharing the daily “masterpiece” with my better half. She is my most honest critic and probably my biggest fan, which I suspect is because she knows if I don’t cook, she’ll have to.
I say masterpiece because, for me, whipping up something in the kitchen starts as a blank canvas, except I paint with pots and pans, whisks, and a digital thermometer. Nothing is quite like being in a home with fresh bread baling in the oven or a rich stew simmering on the stove for hours. No matter what your neighborhood or home looks like, real estate agents worth their salt will tell you, a house will sell faster and for more money, if the smell of a freshly baked Apple Pie hits the buyer’s nose as he or she walks in the front door. Home cooking is that powerful.
So down to basics. I’ve been posting recipes on our new website since last October – most are traditional. Some are newer. With Lent upon us, I got to thinking about all those Lenten and Easter traditions. One of the most time-honored traditions no matter what your background, is the Friday Fish Fry. As my memory serves me, it seems that every corner bar or greasy spoon in Youngstown had (or still has) its own version with French Fries and Cole Slaw. The more famous ones may still be around, like the Boulevard Tavern on Southern Blvd. or Station Square on Belmont. Some are gone but none are forgotten.
So, for those of you that need your Friday Fish fix, I’ve posted my favorite Beer Battered Fish Recipe on the website. This one is inspired by the fish served at the original Antone’s Restaurant on Market Street just south of the Market Street Bridge back in the day. It’s easy to make and if you’re not into deep frying (with all the grease) I’ve even posted it as an Air Fryer recipe. You can still make it in a Conventional Skillet with cooking oil (that version is there, too) but the Air Fryer variation is just as tasty and without all the calories and oil.
You’ll also find a recipe for Italian French Fries and the best copycat of KFC Cole Slaw I’ve found anywhere on the web. All you need to make this Friday complete is the second bottle of ice-cold beer and a ball game on your TV.
So, visit the site soon and be sure to tell your family and friends about YoungstownRecipes.com. You don’t have to live in or be from Y-town to subscribe. All we ask is that you have roots that follow our home-grown, hometown interests. We’ll even let those Warren and North Lima folks join us.
Here are our latest recipes on YoungstownRecipes.com –
You’re welcome to Subscribe to our Newsletter so that you’re notified when a new edition of this Blog is published. Of course, you’re always welcome to read them anytime by simply going to our website and clicking on “Blog” in the main menu.
To read other posts in the Youngstown Cooks series, just click HERE and Enjoy!