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Sew Perfect

Westfield Mother Does What She Loves To Do

Gabe Hrysenko has the best of both worlds as a stay at home mom with a home-based sewing business. Photo by Beverly Kehe-Rowland

Gabriel Hrysenko saw biotechnology in her future while she was studying math and science at Jamestown Community College and SUNY Fredonia. She ended up doing what she loves, but not exactly what she had planned. Not even close.

The Westfield woman grew up in New Jersey with her mother and her grandparents until her grandparents decided to follow their dream to Montana. While in her senior year of high school, the young woman moved west with her family.

She worked at a few fast food restaurants during college and later was a cook at Westfield’s Main Diner before cooking at Brazill’s on Main for three years. She gives a college friend credit for helping her cook in her first position, but says the former owner of Brazill’s taught her “the finer side of cooking.”

“I was taught the basics by my grandmother like how to use a knife but really I’ve learned so much through the process of trial and error. Now there isn’t much error when I’m coming up with something new to eat, which is almost every night.

“I’ve cooked my whole life. I started when I was ten,” she says. “My grandparents had us doing everything.”

Seamstress Gabe Hrysenko pins a gown prior to altering. Photo by Beverly Kehe-Rowland

She goes on to say she plans to have her son watch her cook and sew, and

observe what his father does as well.

“I want to teach my son to be independent and conscious of the world around him. I promote to everyone that if we recycle, limit our use of single use plastic and be aware of what we are ingesting, we can lead healthier lives.”

She is a firm believer that people consume too many processed foods.

“While we haven’t cut out processed foods completely from our diets, I strive to cook as healthy as possible at home.”

Stunned by all of the onlookers, 10-month old Jonah Eppinger, who is normally all smiles, is held by Buffalo Bills Quarterback Josh Allen during a recent visit to the Bills training camp. Submitted photo

She makes all of her 10-and-a-half-month-old son’s baby food and granola bars and yogurt for her family. She cans every year, mostly applesauce, to save her family from the added sugars in store-purchased varieties. As a child, she had a garden and learned how to grow her own food, which is something she plans to do with her son.

“We were also raised learning how to cook, not just in the kitchen but outside. I remember being taught how to cook an entire meal on a fire or in a smoker by my grandparents. Now when given the choice I prefer to cook outside the confines of a kitchen. There is something about it that you cannot duplicate with any spices on a stove top.”

“I rarely follow a recipe to the “T“. Sometimes I’ll look up ideas but hardly ever set out to make that exact recipe,” says Gabe. “We ate pretty good the week before I sent you my recipes because I needed to write down and figure out the exact recipe.”

The Inside-Out Pierogies was the first dish she ever made on her own.

“It has evolved. It is a little bit my grandmother’s recipe and a little bit mine.

Gabe Hrysenko does alterations and other sewing magic at her Westfield home-based business. Photo by Beverly Kehe-Rowland

She named the banana bread recipe after her son because she makes it for him since it is healthier containing no butter or sugar. She found a chorizo recipe online but altered it to make it her own and won a crock-pot cook-off.

“There were only two entries. So, thinking about it now I’m not sure if that counts as a win, although I would put that recipe in a contest anyway.”

She came up with the salad dressing recipe within the last week after she and her son picked black raspberries on their property.

“It came out 10 times better than I expected.” She says. “It was good as a vinaigrette, but I added an avocado to make it creamy.”

She offers those recipes and others at the end of the article.

As much as she enjoys creating delicious meals, her creativity doesn’t stop there and cooking is not her vocation.

“About six years ago people started asking if I would do alterations after my fiance, Josh Eppinger, told them ‘she’ll fix that for you.’ I’ve had business ever since,” she says.

She refers to her earliest work as “simple things,” like pant hems and jeans repair. She is self-taught in more difficult seam work, having watched YouTube videos and reading books about sewing.

“Most of it is intuitive.”

Although she is willing to do easier repairs, most of the work brought to her in recent years has been suit and bridal alterations. She has made two wedding gowns and has altered many more.

“I take a lot of business from a well-known bridal chain. My price is about half of theirs and I get it out much faster.”

She has made about a dozen memory quilts, where she takes old tee shirts or baby onesies and sews them into a quilt. She also has made slipcovers, has done some reupholstering of furniture and has made costumes for the Brocton School dance recital. Currently, she has an order from Santa Claus himself, who is in need of a new set of clothes.

She learned basic sewing in an eighth grade Home Economics class, the same year she decided to make a dress to wear to a school dance. She didn’t attempt anymore sewing projects after that besides simple mending. Instead, she used her talents for jewelry-making and helped her grandfather in the garage.

“I liked anything that involved using my hands, painting, etc, which is why it was weird I ended up in biotech.

She credits helping her grandfather with the ability to take things apart and fix them such as the items she sews.

“My great-grandmother, who I was close with when I was young, was a seamstress and my aunt makes dresses in Colorado. So, it’s in the family but I never learned from either of them. Just knowing that they did it was help enough.”

They may both be impressed if they could see her heavy-duty sewing machine and serger, which she uses for hemming and giving a professional look to edges.

Aside from cooking and sewing, she enjoys outdoor activities.

“I grew up camping and being outside,” says the busy mom.

Prior to moving to Montana, she was on a rifle team for 12 years.

“We love hiking, camping and do a lot of mountain biking. We go to a lot of shows to hear live music. I met my fiance at a festival in Westfield.”

They are avid Sabres and Bills fans, having had Bills’ season tickets in the past. Ralph, their German Shepherd-Labrador Retriever mix, was acquired two weeks after the death of Bills’ owner Ralph Wilson. Recently, while visiting the Bills’ training camp at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, Eppinger asked Bills quarterback Josh Allen if he could take his picture with their son, Jonah. While Jonah’s mother was taking the picture, another photographer, not only snapped one at the same time, but put it on the Bills’ Facebook and Twitter pages.

“He went viral for a day,” says the baby’s mother with a grin.

Appointments and inquiries may be made by calling Westfield Alterations and Repairs at 490-5014.

Creamy Black Raspberry Dressing

2/3 c black raspberries

2 T chopped red onion

1/2 c chopped cilantro

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 c lime juice

1 c olive oil

1/2 avocado

In food processor, puree black raspberries, red onion, cilantro, salt and lime juice. Remove from processor and add to bowl. Using a stick blender, blend contents of bowl while slowly adding the oil. Once all of the oil is blended, blend in avocado.

Chorizo Sweet Potato Chili

Serves 4

1lb chorizo

olive oil

1 large onion, julienned

5 cloves garlic chopped

2 cans diced tomatoes

1 can black beans

3 c raw cubed sweet potatoes

3 tsp cumin

1 1/2 tsp chili pepper

1/2 tsp cayenne

1/2 c water

sour cream

In skillet, brown chorizo with small amount of olive oil. At same time, in large heavy bottom pot or Dutch oven, saute onions and garlic. Once cooked, add chorizo, tomatoes, beans, sweet potatoes, cumin, chili pepper, cayenne and water. Bring to boil and let bubble for three minutes. Cover and reduce heat to low-medium for fifteen minutes. Uncover and continue cooking for another fifteen minutes or until potatoes are cooked and chili has thickened. Serve with sour cream on top.

Roasted Jalapeno and Garlic Salmon

Serves 2

2 jalapenos

4 cloves of garlic

2 T olive oil

2 T lime juice

1/8 c cilantro leaves chopped

16 oz fresh salmon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place jalapenos and garlic on baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 10 minutes, flip and bake another ten minutes before removing from oven. Allow to cool before removing skin and stems of jalapenos. Add jalapenos, garlic, olive oil, lime juice and cilantro to food processor and blend. Place salmon on heated grill, skin side down. Cover with half of topping and cook for ten minutes, cover with remaining topping and cook until salmon is cooked through. Serve with your favorite grilled veggies.

Inside-Out Pierogies

Serves 4

8 oz whole wheat elbow macaroni

1 medium onion

5 cloves garlic

2 T pesto

1 tsp crushed red pepper

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

2 c chopped spinach

16 oz cottage cheese

fresh chopped parsley for topping

Boil macaroni in large sauce pan for ten minutes, drain and cool. In large skillet on medium heat, saute onions and garlic with olive oil. Remove from skillet when done. Add macaroni to skillet with a little more oil. Let macaroni brown on both sides about ten minutes. Lower heat to low. Return onions and garlic to skillet along with pesto, crushed red pepper, black pepper and spinach.

Mix until spinach is cooked and then remove from heat. Stir in cottage cheese and continue stirring until cheese has melted and is mixed through. Serve with fresh parsley on top.

Jonah’s Banana Bread

3/4 c chopped black cherries

3 bananas

1 egg

2/3 c applesauce

1/4 c honey

2 c whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake cherries for 10 minutes on greased pan.

In large mixing bowl, mash three ripe bananas. Mix in egg, applesauce and honey. With rubber spatula, fold in flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cherries. Bake in greased bread pan for about 40 minutes. Bread should be golden brown on top when done.

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