Family Recipe Friday : Ķīsēlis

Ķīsēlis, (or as we Canadians of Latvian descent unknowingly called it until now: Cheesaline) is a traditional Latvian fruit dessert, served as a hot or cold soup, or a jelly. These are popular in other Eastern European countries as well(generically known as Kissels)
My mother makes cranberry ķīsēlis around Thanksgiving or Christmas, and we eat it as cold soup. It’s delicious!




1/2 lb cranberries
1 quart water
sugar (to taste)
2 tablespoons potato flour

1. Rinse cranberries and put to boil in water.
2. When all the berries have burst, strain and force through a sieve.
3. Retain the liquid and pulp; discard the skins.
4. Reheat the juice while mixing in the sugar to taste.
5. Slowly stir in potato flour until consistency is almost like syrup.
6. Cover and cool.

Those Places Thursday: Embute Castle
Embute Castle was built sometime in the 1200’s by the bishop of Kurland as a residence. Embute as a location had been occupied by Couronians for centuries and was a strong centre for resistance against the German Christian Crusaders (who ultimately prevailed). Over the centuries the Castle had been occupied by many German land barons, and Embute became a cultural centre for the area it is situated in, with it’s Lutheran church and fortified castle.
The castle was destroyed during the Great Northern War (1700-1721) but rebuilt as a manor a few decades later. It survived as a manor until 1920 when it burned down. The last owners of the manor were Hans von Hahn, and later his widow, who returned to Germany after the manor burned. The rumour mill spun word that she had burned the manor down in an effort to avoid it’s nationalization by the Latvian government during it’s land ownership reforms of 1920-1930 (ownership of land and buildings was given to the peasants who lived and worked on it.)
This is what is left of the castle/manor today:

Matrilineal Monday

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At one point in my interest in genealogy I considered exploring genealogical DNA testing. You can have your DNA analyzed, and this will tell you of a certain haplogroup you belong to. A haplogroup is sort of like an ancient ethnicity, like Slavic or Turkic or the like. Since there are certain mutations that take place in chromosomes that rarely change from generation to generation, scientists are able to use Y-chromosomes to determine all the males in your patrilineal lineage (your father’s, father’s, father’s, father… etc) and mtDNA determines your mother’s, mother’s, mother’s, mother’s mother… etc).

For me, since I am female, the only tests that could be done are the mtDNA based ones discerning my matrilineal ancestors (a female would have to have a brother or her father tested to find her Y-DNA haplogroup, since we lack the Y-chromosome).

For me, my mother’s, mother’s, mother’s mother (great, great-grandmother) was Matilde Ozols, who I know very little about. One of her daughters, my great-grandmother, was born in 1914. So knowing that, I could say Matilde was likely born somewhere between 1872 and 1896 and married Fricis Ozolins somewhere between 1890 and 1913. My great-grandmother was born in Talsi, Kurzeme, but that is not to say for sure that Matilde originally came from there. She had 4 daughters, I believe, and 2 sons. A family story is that one of the sons was shot and killed by Soviet occupiers for hunting and killing a deer for food for his family, when food was scarce.

Combing through the Talsi church books will be my best bet for further discovering my matrilineage. Or mtDNA testing. The Talsi church books are cheaper… free ☺. I have a strong feeling that Matilde was an ethnic Latvian, so chances are she could be grouped into haplogroup H, a large, common European group. DNA testing is an option though, for those interested. One of my favourite websites, offers a test, complete with explanations of your results.

More on European mtDNA haplogroup distribution: