Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Kids Have Cashed Out

Our week in Russia has not been a fun and uplifting week -- one may have already reasonably inferred this from the lack of blog posts from Tuesday until...what is today, Sunday?  Sunday.

Our frustration level with the kids on this project has grown to epic proportions -- Angel spends at least two hours per day cooking these meals, and sometimes a LOT more.  This week, the kids have been at  best taking one bite and declaring the food to be nasty, ugly, bad.  The waving of downturned thumbs and cacophony of "blech, ugh, boogfh, YUCK" has become too predominant to ignore.

And when I said "at best,"  I meant it.  More often, a child will take one LICK of a dish, or a sniff, and declare that they hate it.  At the worst, one of our twins has said a couple of times that she liked a dish...but when her older sister starts screeching "it's terrr-rrrible!" she changes her tune to match.

We offered our kids the "PBJ back-door" at the start of the project -- if they completely couldn't stand dinner, they had the option of eating a peanut butter'n jelly sandwich.  Unfortunately (for them) they have blatantly abused that option, and there's a very good chance that it no longer exists for them.  It's not like we didn't talk with them before starting this, and ask them if they were behind us, and if they would be adventurous and try new foods.  It's not like they didn't all nod in agreement, all wide-innocent-eyes, that yes, they would try new food and join in the excitement of discovery.

Yeah, now they won't eat potatoes, because they're so foreign.  Puh-leeze.

So without much further ado, here's what we had this week:

Wednesday was an awesome beef stew and rye bread:

Beef Stew & Rye Bread

Thursday we had yogurt soup, pork chops with apples braised in beer, with sour cream new potatoes.

Pork Chops, Yogurt Soup, New Potatoes

Somewhere in there, Angel opined that:
"After eating boxed mac and cheese for lunch I can't help but realize that most Americans really don't care what they eat (cereal for dinner, boxed mac and cheese . . . etc) while it seems like meals in both Poland and Russia are filled with lots of care and pride. Hmm."

Friday we had Moscow-style cod, cabbage baked with feta, and strawberry kisel for dessert. 

Moscow-style Cod

Cabbage Baked With Feta

Unfortunately, I was sick Friday, and while I thought that dinner was absolutely came back up again an hour later -- in no way to be construed as a statement or implication about the quality of dinner.  I went to sleep for 13 hours and was functional again for Saturday.

Saturday was a "day off" from Russia -- Gable's 10th birthday.  He had a box of mac'n cheese for breakfast (don't ask me, I don't know why!) that his little sister had gotten him for a birthday present. (don't ask me about that either, I really don't know!)  We had PBJ's for lunch, and dinner was out at Taco Bell.  I'm not sure if anyplace is less Russian than Taco Bell.  It's like Mexican food that's been Americanized, so it's neither.  It's food that's from noplace -- at least McDonald's is firmly American.

I'll leave you with a picture of the aftermath that is our kitchen on every single night of these meals from other countries.  I personally think this picture makes it look pretty lightweight, but take it from me, by the time dinner was on the table every horizontal work surface had been used, and Angel had to use the floor to hold pots while she added final ingredients.

Kitchen/Blast Zone


Beef & Potato Stew (Podzharka)
2 1/2 lbs bone-in chuck steak
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled, cut lenghwise in half, then sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
1 Italian (pale green frying) pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into strips
3 large cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp sweet Hungarian Paprika
1/3 to 1/2 cup boiling beef stock or canned broth
5 large boiling potatoes, peeled and quarted
2 Tbs chopped fresh dill
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley

Trim the meat of most of the fat.  Cut the meat into 1 1/2 inch chunks, leving some meat on the bones.
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onion and saute' until it begins to color, about 10 minutes.  Add the carrot and Italian pepper and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are nicely browned, about another 10 minutes.  Stir in the beef, garlic, salt and pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of the paprika.  Cook, stirring, over medium heat for 15 minutes.  The meat and vegetables should be richly browned.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring often, until the beef is tender, about 50 minutes.  While the beef cooks, add stock, a few tablespoons at a time, only if the beef and vegetables stick to the bottom of the Dutch oven.  Add the potatoes, dill, parsley, more salt and pepper, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon paprika.  Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.  Add just enough boiling stock to barely cover the potatoes.  Let boil for a few minutes, then cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.  Let the stew stand for 10 minutes before serving.  Serves 4.
-- from "Please to the Table, The Russian Cookbook" -- Anya von Bremzen and John Welchman

Yogurt Soup (Matsunis Shechamandi)
1 Tbs flour
1/8 Tsp salt
2 cups plain yogurt
1 cup water
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 Tbs butter
2 eggs, well beaten
1 Tbs minced fresh mint (we omitted)
2 Tbs minced cilantro
1/4 cup cooked rice

Stir the flour and salt into the yogurt, then add the water and beat well.  In a stockpot, saute' the onion lightly in the butter, then stir in the yogurt.  Bring this mixture to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.  Carefully stir a little of the hot liquid into the beaten eggs, then whisk the eggs into the soup.  Simmer a few minutes longer.  Just before serving, add the minced herbs and rice.
-- from "The Georgian Feast, The Vibrant Culture and Savory Food of the Republic of Georgia" Darra Goldstein

Pork Chops with Apples Braised in Beer (Svinina s Yablokami v Pive)
4 center-cut loin pork chops cut 3/4 inch thick (about 6 oz each)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbs unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp all purpose flour
3/4 cup light beer
pinch of granulated sugar
1 Tbs grated lemon zest
2 cloves
1 medium-size onion, sliced and separated into rings
1 small tart apple (Granny Smith), peeled, cored and cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
1 1/2 tsp (packed) dark brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Remove the excess fat from the pork chops and rub them generously with ground ginger, salt and pepper.  In an ovenproof skillet just large enough to accommodate the pork chops in one layer, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat.  Dust the chops lightly with flour and brown in the butter for about 10 minutes, turning once after 5 minutes.  Remove the chops from the skillet and set aside.  Pour the beer into the skillet and bring to a boil.  Stir in the granulated sugar, lemon zest, cloves, and additional salt and pepper.  Return the pork chops to the skillet, cover and bake for 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a small skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion rings and saute', stirring occasionally, until golden, about 15 minutes.  Remove the skillet from the oven and uncover.  Arrange the sauteed onion over the chops and top with the apple slices.  Spoon over some cooking liquid.  continue to bake, uncovered, until the apples are tender but not mushy, another 20 minutes, basting with the cooking liquid from time to time.  Preheat the broiler.  Sprinkle the brown sugar over the apples and place the skilled under the broiler for a few minutes, until you get a good glaze.  Place the pork chops, topped with the onions and apples, on individual plates and spoon some cooking liquid over them to serve.  Serves 4
-- from "Please to the Table"

New Potatoes Braised in Sour Cream (Molodaya Kartoshka Tushonaya v Smetane)
2 lbs new potatoes, the smaller the better
1/2 cup chicken broth or water
1 cup sour cream
salt to taste
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill

Parboil the potatoes in salted boiling water for 8 minutes.  Drain thoroughly.  Transfer the potatoes to a heavy heatproof casserole.  Add the broth, sour cream and salt and bring to a gentle boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer, uncovering to stir occasionally, until the potatoes are very tender.  Five minutes before the potatoes are finished cooking, stir in the garlic.  Toss with the dill and serve.  Serves 4.
-- from "Please to the Table"

Cod, Moscow Style (Treska po Moskovski)
2 lbs cod fillets, cut into 8 pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbs fresh lemon juice
5 Tbs unsalted butter
All-purpose flour for rolling the fish
2 large onions, cut into rings
1/2 cup mayonnaise, preferably Hellman's (Why?)
3/4 cup grated Gruyere or white cheddar cheese
Chopped fresh parsley and dill for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Rub the fish fillets with salt and pepper and place in a shallow dish.  Sprinkle with lemon juice and let stand for 15 minutes.  Melt 3 Tbs of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Roll each fish fillet lightly in the flour and fry until just opaque, 3 to 4 minutes on each side.  Transfer the fish to an ovenproof casserole.  Wipe out the skillet and melt the remaining 2 Tbs butter over medium heat.  Add the onion rings and saute, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 20 minutes.  Spread the mayonnaise on the fish with a rubber spatula.  Place the onions on top and sprinkle with the cheese.  Bake until the surface is well browned and bubbly, 10 to 15 minutes.  Serve hot or cold, sprinkled with fresh herbs.  Serves 4 to 6.
-- from "Please to the Table"

Cabbage Baked with Feta (Verza cu Brinza)
1 firm head green cabbage (about 2 1/2 lbs) cored and finely slivered
3 Tbs unsalted butter
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/3 cup finely crumbled or grated feta cheese, preferably Bulgarian. (why?)
1/2 cup unflavored, coarse, dry bread crumbs
1 to 2 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika
5 Tbs unsalted butter, melted

Blanch the cabbage in boiling water for 2 minutes.  Drain and pat dry with a linen or cotton (not terrycloth) kitchen towel.  Heat the 3 Tbs butter and the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the cabbage and saute, stirring and tossing frequently, until the cabbage is nicely browned, 15 to 20 minutes.  Cool the cabbage until it is easy to handle.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream and eggs.  mix thoroughly with the cabbage.  Add dill, if desired, and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Transfer the mixture to an earthenware casserole dish.  Combine the feta with the bread crumbs.  Sprinkle the mixture over the cabbage.  Sprinkle with paprika and melted butter and bake until bubbly and the top is browned, about 15 minutes.  Serves 6
-- from "Please to the Table"


  1. Я чувствую вашу боль товарищ. Через тернии мы должны терпеть!

    I feel your pain comrade. Through hardship we must endure !!

  2. Everything looks delicious!!!

    I can't wait to try some of these recipes.