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Pierogies Please- LOFS retiree working to make ethnic dumplings a Lenten favorite

Written by Chronicle Staff. Posted in Dining & Entertainment, Featured

Published on March 27, 2019 with No Comments

by Steve Euvino

Carol Macinga places boiled pierogies on a sheet as part of the cooking process.

Carol Macinga places boiled pierogies on a sheet as part of the cooking process.

For those who must abstain from meat on Lenten Fridays, the usual substitutes include fish, tomato soup, and macaroni and cheese. But what about pierogies, those boiled or fried dumplings with fillings?

Some area churches offer pierogi with their Friday fish fries, and now a Lakes of the Four Seasons woman is offering homemade pierogies with meatless fillings for Lent.

Carol Macinga, a retired administrative assistant, has found a new life and career, thanks to her late mother’s ethnic recipes.

“I love cooking,” said Macinga, whose home since December has become her kitchen and office. “It’s where I find peace in my life.”

Carol Macinga holds a pierogi press, with six pierogies being formed.

Carol Macinga holds a pierogi press, with six pierogies being formed.

For Lent, Macinga said traditional meatless pierogi fillings include potato and cheese, sauerkraut and onion, and sweet cheese.

Taking the attitude that “each week I try to do something that no one else has created yet or you can’t find locally,” Macinga has come up with some additional Lenten fillings. These include potato and jalapeño cheese, sauerkraut and mushroom, crab rangoon, and salmon.

“I think people are looking for options to no-meat Fridays in Lent,” Macinga said, “and I want to provide them with something like that.”

Macinga reaches her clients through the Internet and social media. Her business, Pierogies Please, is on 45 websites around Northwest Indiana. With clientele from Whiting to DeMotte, Macinga said many of her customers are elderly. While many customers pick up their orders, Macinga will meet clients halfway if necessary.

Macinga’s business motto is: “Less Dough – More Filling.” It’s a tribute to her mother’s recipes and her family’s Slovak heritage.

The idea for the business started when Macinga was invited to a friend’s home for Thanksgiving dinner. Her host asked if she could bring pierogi, particularly prune pierogi, which he had not had in 50 years.

Having never made pierogi before, Macinga checked around stores, but had no luck on locating prune pierogies. Doing a web search next, Macinga found prune butter pierogi, but that was not what her host wanted.

So Macinga, knowing that her mother kept a pierogi press somewhere at home, decided to make them herself.

Macinga started her search for the press in the laundry room, where her mother kept all her cookbooks. Looking to the heavens, Macinga asked, “Mom, where is it?”

Then, some of the cookbooks fell forward, exposing the pierogi press.

Macinga used her mother’s Slovak recipe for pierogi. Instead of sour cream for the dough, Slovaks use cream cheese.

“It makes for a lighter, thinner dough,” Macinga explained. “This allows for less dough and more filling.”

Macinga’s Thanksgiving pierogi was a hit. “You should be doing this for a living,” Macinga recounted her host’s compliments, “and here we are.”

Macinga has created other seasonal fillings, including a ruben sandwich pierogi for St. Patrick’s Day. She also makes stuffed cabbage twice a month, including some sauerkraut with each order.

Macinga includes cooking instructions. She uses a color-coded dot system for identifying pierogi packaging. A pink dot means the pierogi is par-boiled; yellow means raw pierogi; and green means the pierogi is fully cooked.

Macinga recommends adding a dash of paprika for added color or sprinkling parsley or cilantro, depending on one’s taste.

Macinga said her past business experience has helped her with customer service.

“I’m in the public eye,” she said, “and my customers are so kind and down-to-earth people. They’re very grateful for what I sell to them.”

Being a one-woman business, Macinga will often work all day until she runs out of materials, based on orders. However, she is not eating all the profits herself, lest she turns into a bechka, Slovak for “a woman shaped like a barrel.”

Even though she works by herself, Macinga is never alone.

“I feel my mom’s hands are guiding me, all the time,” she said.

Just as her kitchen is loaded with cooking supplies, Macinga has plenty of ideas. She hopes to offer a gluten-free pierogi.

“I feel this is a perfect fit for the rest of my life,” Macinga said. “The future looks very promising. I have to take baby steps and learn as I go, but I believe in my product.”

For more information on Carol Macinga’s business, visit https//pierogiesplease.com.

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