St. Stephen Byzantine Catholic Church group shares food, fellowship while making pirohy
Roll, cut, fill, pinch ... repeat.
A group of dedicated volunteers worked in assembly-line fashion at a North Huntingdon church this week to make more than 5,000 pirohy for a fundraiser on Friday.
“It's a fine group of people working together. It's a major fundraiser and a lot of fun, too,” said the Rev. John Petro, priest at St. Stephen Byzantine Catholic Church, as he kneaded dough for the pirohy.
A group of about 25 parishioners works to make the sale a reality, said Patty Balta, who helps to organize the crew. That includes the priest, “who has not missed a day of doing the work,” Balta added.
Balta said most of the women learned to make the pirohy, a traditional Eastern European dish, from their mothers.
Men and woman split the chores in the church basement along Bethel Road.
“It's nice that the men help out,” Balta said.
The men begin by making the dough before women put the pirohy together in assembly-line fashion — rolling out the balls of dough, cutting it into squares, filling the pockets with potato-cheese, sweet cabbage or lekvar (prunes), then pinching the pockets and placing the folded pirohy on large racks, ready to be boiled.
The men cook the pirohy for 10 minutes and then bag each dozen with butter.
The pirohy are refrigerated for a few days before the sale, so they are fresh when bought.
All the work takes two days of preparation — making the potato filling and chopping and cooking the sweet cabbage — and another two days of assembly, Balta said.
One of the volunteers, Shirley Andreyko of North Huntingdon, said she has been making the pirohy for many years.
“I just came to help out at the church. It's just nice to get together,” said Andreyko, whose husband, Mike, helps in the kitchen, as does Balta's husband, Ron.
Andreyko said the pirohy are not hard to make.
“It's not rocket science,” she quipped.
The crew expected to assemble about 420 dozen priohy this week, Balta said.In order to make all those pirohy, Balta said they bought 40 five-pound bags of flour and 16 dozen eggs, plus potatoes, cheddar cheese and prunes. The cost of all the ingredients is about $450, Balta said. Each dozen sells for $9.
“We'll sell them all,” Balta said with confidence. They have a steady stream of customers and the volunteers buy them as well, she said.
The church holds a pirohy sale two times during Lent and twice in the fall, Balta said. To do it more often would be too taxing on the volunteers, Petro said.
“It's just a great group of people,” Ron Balta said.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or email@example.com.