Helen Kanisza Dana was born in Proctor, Vermont in 1914 to Hungarian immigrants. Her father, Louis, came to the United States in 1909, and her mother, Rose, immigrated in 1911. They both came from Marcalto, Hungary, and although they knew of each other in their small town, Rose didn’t think much of Louis while in Hungary. It wasn’t until they both settled in the same small town in Vermont with a limited number of eligible Hungarian bachelors that Louis became more appealing. They eventually got married, but Rose was widowed in 1932, left to find a way to provide for Helen (our M.O.M.) and her little sister. Rose worked in a sewing factory and moonlighted as a seamstress at home. She also saw to it that Helen went to college, not a common occurrence for women in the 1930’s.
Not surprisingly, Helen learned to cook from her mother, which was sometimes challenging. Her mother’s “recipes” generally consisted of a list of ingredients and instructions to add “some” of this, “a little” of that, and if it “doesn’t look right” add some more. Helen somehow managed to figure out the method behind her mother’s recipes, and continued to make the same traditional dishes that her mother cooked nearly a century ago, until Helen passed away in 2009. This month we’re offering you some of Helen’s favorites, and hope they’ll be your favorites, too.