Sunday, September 15, 2013

Pumpkin Scones

I love fall... the colors, the pumpkins, the dropping temperatures...It all makes me smile! :) Here in Russia, the feeling of fall starts in late August. Officially though, it began September 1st. I have embraced the new season sooner than I would in the states. My reasoning is that I want to enjoy it before it's freezing outside and doesn't feel like fall anymore, but honestly, why wait? This season brings out the best in my love of baking! Bring on the pumpkins! As far as cooking those pumpkins, ours are a bit different here, but I've had good success so far. You might have already guessed we can't run down to our local grocery store and pick up a can of pumpkin, but it's really OK. Cooking them is not difficult. The consistency of our pumpkins takes some getting used to, but with a little cinnamon and nutmeg it turns out well every time. In my searching for new pumpkin recipes to try I came across an incredible pumpkin scone recipe that, at the urging of my mom, I decided to post on my blog. I hope you try it and enjoy it!

For the Pumpkin Scones:

  • 2 cups  all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup  brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter (1 stick of butter)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tablespoon molasses (we don't have molasses so I used syrup)
  • 3 tablespoons half and half
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

  • For the Frosting:

    • 1/4 Cup butter
    • 1 (3 oz) pkg of cream cheese
    • 2 Cups powered sugar
    • 1/2 t vanilla
    • 1/8 t salt
    The fun part:

    Heat your oven to 400*F or 200*C (if you have a metric oven like me). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. You can spray or grease your pan if you would like, but the parchment paper is SO nice!

    In a large bowl, whisk the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and all the spices together (cinnamon, ginger, clove and nutmeg). Then, cut the cold butter into small cubes (it is very important that the butter is cold for this). Add butter to flour mixture then use a fork or a pastry cutter to “cut” the butter into the flour mixture – yes it does require some elbow grease, as my mom would say. By the end, the mixture should look like coarse crumbs. 

    Now, in another medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, molasses, half and half, vanilla extract and egg until blended. Stir pumpkin mixture into flour and butter mixture with a spoon just until a soft dough forms. Transfer the dough to a floured surface then knead it three to four times until it comes together. It can be a bit sticky.

    Next, pat or roll dough into about a 10" x 7" rectangle. If you have a pizza cutter, it is the tool of choice for cutting the scones. It is easier to cut your rectangle lengthwise first. Then cut it into 3 sections giving you 6 small rectangles. Then proceed to make your triangles. If that makes absolutely no sense, hopefully the picture will help! :)

    Spiced Pumpkin Scones Recipe

    Transfer the scones to your cooking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes. If you aren't sure, just grab a toothpick and poke it into one your scones. If it's clean, you should be good to go! Make sure the scones cool completely before frosting if you don't want your frosting to melt and run. I usually can't wait to dig into the scones with melting, dripping frosting...I'm smiling right now just thinking about it! 

    Speaking of frosting, you'll want your beaters for this. It's a pretty basic put the ingredients in a bowl and blend situation. I will add though that I don't like to put all my powdered sugar in at once because I tend to be covered in it by the time I'm done. If you want to get fancy with your frosting, you might consider a zigzag pattern. :)

     Happy fall, ya'll!

    Monday, September 2, 2013

    How many winters, how many summers?

    We have a saying in Russia when you haven't seen someone in a while. Сколько зим, сколько лет? It means, "How many winters, how many summers?" Maybe it hasn't been that long, but it has been about two months since I posted last. We have had a really great, really busy summer! We took a trip south to Kolmykia with Micah (Joel's brother) and his wife Sarah.

    We had junior camp here in Domodedovo.

    And we had a group come from America and built a new roof for the house we live in with Joel's parents, sister and a few others. It's a big house! :)

    For this post I wanted to share some pictures of some of our improved living areas, thanks to some wonderful men from America! My in-laws have tried five times to get a roof on this house that wouldn't leak, and every time it was a fail. This time they decided to go for an American style roof instead of a Russian style roof. We won't know for sure until spring when several feet of snow melt at once, but right now we're nice and dry...and hopeful to stay that way!

    Joel and his brother Micah, with the help of a builder, fixed our gazebo.

    We had about 20 hornet nests in the old roof. Joel and Micah suited up and fixed the problem! :)

    Here are the four men that risked and endured much for us to have a roof that doesn't leak! :)

    We got a really horrible storm one afternoon that blew off the unattached roof and flooded the upstairs where we sleep. The men were desperately trying to fix the roof since they knew it was going to leak severely, but it wasn't safe for them to remain up there in such a severe thunderstorm. We still have some more repair work to fix that damage, but floors and walls are much easier to repair than people! We are so thankful the guys made it down safe!!

    We have had a hard time heating some of the areas in our house so they decided it was time time for some serious insulation in our new roof...and this is only half of the insulation!

    We could never thank the men enough for their incredibly hard work and the enormous blessing they were and will continue to be to us! We are excited for a cozy winter and a dry spring...on the inside of coarse! ;)

    Thursday, June 6, 2013

    Dealing with culture shock

    Culture shock is a very real thing. When life changes dramatically, it can sneak up on you. Soon, without even realizing it sometimes, symptoms begin to appear. Many people talk about culture shock when moving to a new country, but it doesn't have to be a new country. Sometimes within a country cultural differences can vary to the point of someone getting frustrated with something or someone for something that is fine and perfectly normal for that area. Different does not mean wrong! I have most definitely had my moments, and I'm so thankful for God's grace and daily wisdom and comfort. I know rough days will still come. It is important to constantly maintain a good attitude as much as possible. I decided to share an article with you that a fellow missionary friend shared with me. Some of you may relate, while others can learn how to better pray for their missionaries. You can find this excellent article by clicking here. I hope you enjoy this article and have a delightful day! :)

    Saturday, June 1, 2013

    The Reasoner Family

    Hello! I'm so happy to be home! We just finished making a very fast, very crazy trip to the states for the wedding of Joel's youngest brother Jeremiah and his new wife Kayla. It was a lovely wedding and we enjoyed having a few days with the whole family.Well it was almost the whole family. Keturah's (front row left) husband was not able to come.


    Our family is growing quickly! We are blessed indeed! I'm so thankful we were able to go even though it was a tiring trip! Micah and Sarah and their two girls (on the far right) came back with us to Russia. They will be spending the summer here before going back to the states to begin deputation.

    Friday, May 17, 2013

    Dandelions and pookh

    This time of year brings some very noticeable occurrences  to our part of Russia. I love the warmer weather and everything turning from white and to green. I'm so thankful for the changing of seasons. It seems Russia has two very pronounced seasons which would be winter and summer. Spring and fall kind of sneak in and make a quick appearance before be ushered out of the scene. On my way to Russian lessons yesterday, I had to take a few pictures to share on here.

    First of all, I have to smile at all of the dandelions around here. My dad was always so particular to keep every dandelion out of our yard. He worked hard to make our yard gorgeous and perfect to run through barefoot. No stickers, no dandelions, just beautiful, velvety grass. Well, here in Russia dandelions have free reign and take advantage of their given freedom!

    All those pretty yellow flowers are actually dandelions! Isn't that incredible?? I love the purple flowers that are determined to survive in spite of the overwhelming dandelions. The colors of the yellow and purple together make for a lovely view on my walk. 

    The other thing that cannot be missed on my walk is the pookh. At least I think that is how it would be spelled in English. The Russian word is пух and it literally means fluff or fuzz! It's very interesting stuff. I was having a hard time getting a good picture with my camera until I realized you could see it better against the this green fence. 

    No, that's not snow, it's fuzz! LOL :) 

    It's a little rough walk through heavy clouds of fuzz because every time I breath, fluff goes up my nose. It's a very strange feeling! LOL 

    It builds up pretty quickly in some areas on the ground this time of year. We just can't live without white stuff here I guess. 

    Here are the fellows that cause all of the fluffiness! :) I'm not sure what they are called in English, so if anyone knows please tell me!! 

    Friday, May 10, 2013

    Fireworks for Victory Day

    We experienced some culture tonight and I decided to write it down. One reason being that I want to remember it, and the other being that you might find it interesting. :)

     May 9 is Victory Day for Russia. We walked with a couple families from our church to the town square to watch a fireworks display. When I say town square, I mean our town of Domodedovo, not Moscow.

    It was a perfect night. The temperatures were warm and we just needed a light jacket. For me the jacket was more for the mosquitoes, but I was glad I brought it for the walk home. It's about a 30 minute walk from where we live. As we walked, it felt like the whole town was walking with us. They closed off the main streets by the square because of all of the people. As we got close, I could hear the live Russian patriotic music playing. There were thousands of people roaming around. Many of them waving their Russian flags, some dancing to the music, but most of them were just talking and enjoying the beautiful evening and the excitement of the the holiday. In the center of the square is a statue of Lenin. There were many Russian flags around the square waving in the calm, cool breeze. Flower beds grace the square with tulips that are just beginning to bloom.

    The live music that was playing stopped, and they began to talk about lives lost and their strong country still honoring those so many years later. As soon as he finished his patriotic speech, the firework show began. It was so interesting to experience something so patriotic in a country outside of my own. I thought I would feel intimidated, but instead I felt happy almost like I should offer congratulations to those around me. If you have never experienced national pride outside of your own country, I think it's something you should do sometime. It will broaden your worldview! 

    Monday, May 6, 2013

    He is Risen!

    Христос воскрес! Easter in Russia is an amazing time of year. Due to visa difficulties last year, this was my first Easter in Russia.  Preparation began Friday with a shopping trip in which this large hunk of meat came home with us. 

    I thought it would be fun to serve to ham to indeed! That is a 18 pound chunk raw pork! After I moved past the initial intimidation and did some googling, I was read to begin the cutting and seasoning. One of the best things about living in a different country is learning to do things you never thought you would or even could do! :) 
    I got it cut up and smothered with soy sauce, liquid smoke, garlic, salt and pepper. It sat in the fridge to soak up the yummy flavors overnight. Saturday our house smelled wonderful all day while they cooked. It took about 10 hours for them all to cook. 

    This is the finished product. Sunday I warmed it up with a sauce I made from honey, minced garlic, soy sauce and liquid smoke. A lot of prayer when into this meat! I have never felt so intimidated by cooking before! We were blessed with 52 people in attendance for the whole service!

    A very common food for Russian Easter is Kulich. It is a sweet bread and often has raisins inside. 

    It is marked with the Russian letters "ХВ" which stands for Христос воскрес (He is risen).

    I decided to make sugar cookies with those letters since another lady was making the yummy bread.

    It was such a fun day. I've always said my favorite holiday is Christmas, but I think that has changed living in Russia. Their Christmas is pretty dull and not a very big deal, but they make up for it at Easter! Воистину Воскрес (Truly He is risen)!

    Tuesday, April 9, 2013

    Walking purposefully

    As I was walking to and from lessons yesterday, I started to think about an object lesson while dodging puddles and dirty melting piles of snow. Walking to and from my Russian lessons by myself is one of my favorite things. (when the weather is nice ;) Yesterday was a particularly gorgeous day with most of the day having very little cloudiness. Spring is a time of melting in Russia, and there are puddles everywhere. Some puddles are small while others require walking up on the mounds of snow on either side of the walkway. It made me think about walking purposefully or carefully so I would not be a muddy spotted mess by the time I  arrived at class. It can easily be applied to how we walk with our Savior. We need to walk purposefully. Proverbs 4:26  tells us we must "Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established." We make decisions each about the path our feet are taking. Some we make without thinking about it, while others bring us to our knees seeking direction. The path we are on should always be at the forefront of our mind. We live in a sinful world. Sin is around us everyday. At work, getting groceries, soul-winning, running errands - we are often around those who could not care less about the things of our God. We should be reaching out to everyone at all times, but always remembering to ponder the path of our own feet. I have gone through a whole day without ever realizing that at some point I splashed some muddy water onto my clothes. Sometimes I think we can get so distracted with life, going through the motions, that we forget to walk purposefully.

    Sometimes there are those puddles that are so deep, you can't see the ground below. They span from one end of the sidewalk to the other, with the still melting mounds of snow on either side. The two options are wade through if your boots can handle that much water, or step up on the mounds of snow trying not to slip into the foreboding muddy water. These are the times our steps become difficult. Literally every step is important. These are times of trials, when our faithfulness is tested. When times of life are difficult and even overwhelming, it is easy to feel alone. The thought crosses my mind that if I only had a hand to hold this would be much easier. Isn't it great that we are never truly alone!

    Then I turned the corner onto the main road. This sidewalk was dry as could be. The snow had been shoveled away all winter long. When I say they shoveled it away, I mean they came with massive dump trucks and literally shoveled the snow into these trucks which removed it from the middle of town. I was enjoying the dry sidewalk so much that when I came to a parking lot I almost stepped in a nasty puddle. When life is rolling along and our comfort zone has returned, we can easily start feeling confident and thinking of other things besides the path of our feet.

    So where are your feet headed? Are you walking purposefully? Where were your feet last year? Where were your feet yesterday? How are you walking today?

    Monday, April 1, 2013

    Awkward moments & Melting ice

    So between deputation and living in a foreign country, it seems awkward moments are just a part of life. I reached a new level tonight though. :) I was waiting to be picked up by my sweet mother-in-law after a lesson. Since parking is almost non-existent, I was waiting on the sidewalk ready to jump into the car at the stoplight. It was dark and raining. My glasses had raindrops on them, making it very difficult to see the cars. It was important for me to be ready to jump into the car so no one would wait on me. I spotted what I thought was her car so I got onto the street where the crosswalk for the light is and started walking back towards the car. I could not just simply cross at any point from the sidewalk to the street due to the mountain of ice and snow that is starting to slowly melt on the edge of the sidewalk. I could not stand on the other side of the snow because when a car passed I would be sprayed and drenched by the lake of water on roads due to the flooding that happens when 5 feet of snow begins to melt. So here I am running through the rain (without an umbrella) to get into a nice dry car. I started to reach for handle, and what to I realize? It's not my mother-in-law! I've just made a complete spectacle of myself running down the street through the rain to a car with someone who looked a tad freaked out. I smiled because I didn't know what else to do, backed up into the wall of snow, and realized I half to run back to the crosswalk now to get on the sidewalk before a car comes and drenches me. Yes, I can't imagine what was going through the mind of that poor person in the car. This is the point at which I laugh because seriously what else is there to do? By the way, I'm home and dry and did finally get into the right car!

    On the way home, the Lord reminded me things can always be worse. The road that we live on is not taken care of like the main roads. Right now it has melting ice with about six inch divots full of cold, muddy, disgusting water. The divots are caused by the cars on the road. The water is too deep to walk through obviously, so you must walk on the ice which is ridiculously slippery due the melting and refreezing that is going on right now. As we pulled on to our street, we could see an older man struggling to walk...and then the struggle came to crashing halt as he slipped on the ice and fell in the water. I'm pretty sure it was one of the saddest things I have ever seen! He got up and started walking again, dripping, dirty and cold. Yes, spring is here!

    Friday, March 29, 2013

    Ukrainian Borscht

    It has been a while since I blogged a Russian recipe. What better recipe for a Russian blog than Borscht? It is a red beet soup that many think of when they think of food in Russia. We have a dear lady that works for my husband's parents twice a week. She lives in an apartment off of our house and has worked for the Reasoner family for over 10 years! I have been talking about having her teach to me how to make Ukrainian Borscht for a while, but you know how things go. Anyway, I randomly decided this morning that it was the day to learn. So let's get started with the fun! 

    First you'll need two pans. The first one will be your main soup pan/stock pot. You'll want to fill it about halfway to two-thirds full with water and boil your meat. I know boiling meat is not ideal, but the meat is not the star of the show. :) We like to use chicken. You can use whatever you like. I've had it with pork, beef and chicken. Some people cook it with no meat at all. Whatever meat you choose to use you'll need to cut it into chunks before placing it into the water. Keep an eye on the meet so that it doesn't overcook. When your meat is cooked, just turn off the heat and cover your pan to keep the water hot.

    Your second pan will be for sauteing most of your vegetables. To begin, heat some oil and add chopped 

    Next come the carrots!  

    Add the shredded carrots to the onions.

    At this point the smell has begun to fill the house! The family knows dinner is cooking. :) 
    Now it's time for the beets. 

    Shred them and add them to the onions and carrots. 

    Now it's time to add some seasonings. She just dumps in what she feels is right so this is tricky. She uses Basil, Dill, Bay leaves, Parsley, salt and pepper to taste. 

    Now for a couple strange ingredients. Ketchup changed Russia forever! They LOVE it, and they use in everything for everything. I honestly prefer paste or sauce, but you can make that decision on your own. She put in about 1/4 cup with the vegetables.   

    The other strange ingredient is an apple. She peeled it first, then shredded it down to the core. It turned into a mush which she added to the cooking vegetables.

    Now it's time for garlic. Oh how I love garlic! Mince them up (4 or 5 cloves) and add them to the vegetables.

    Yummy potatoes. You'll need 5-8 potatoes or so, depending on size. 
    At this point, you should turn the heat off of your vegetables and start boiling your main soup pot with the water and meat in it.

    Chop them up and add them to the pot with the water and meat. 

    Let the potatoes boil while you chop some cabbage. She used about half of a small-medium head of cabbage. 

    Now add your sauteed vegetables and cabbage into your main soup pot. 

    Let this simmer for 20-30 minutes. You can eat it right away, or you can let it sit in your fridge overnight. The flavors become stronger and the color gets redder! :) It should be served with sour cream. 

    There are several foods I really enjoy here in Russia, but this is still my favorite! :) Let me know if you try it  and how it comes out. I must say though that if you really want to enjoy true Russian-Ukrainian Borscht, you'll just have to come visit us here. 

    I'm going to attempt to put this in easy to read recipe form, but I must add that Borscht is one of those things that everyone does differently. Even Luba does it differently sometimes if we don't have something or need to use something up. (like a red pepper for example) I have had Borscht from several different people and all of them tasted very different! 

    Ukrainian Borscht

    1 lb of chicken breast, cut in chunks
    1 large onion, chopped
    3-4 large carrots, shredded
    3-4 beets shredded
    1 T Parsley
    1 T Basil
    1 T Dill
    3-4 Bay leaves
    1/4 C Ketchup
    1 apple, shredded
    4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
    5-7 potatoes, cubed
    1 small head of cabbage, chopped
    Salt and pepper to taste
    Sour cream

    1. Boil water in a large pot and add chicken, turn off heat. 
    2. Heat oil in a pan and add onions, carrots, beets, seasonings, Ketchup, apple and garlic.
    3. Bring water to a boil once again, and add potatoes, cabbage and sauteed vegetables. 
    4. Allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes.
    5. Enjoy! :)

    Monday, March 25, 2013

    An act of kindness

    Living in a foreign country is never boring...never! lol :) I have been purposely hit with a cart to make me go faster. I've been physically pushed for a reason I'll never know. (That one wasn't in Russia) If I had a nickel for everyone that has rolled their eyes at me or gotten flustered with my ignorance or misunderstanding of something...well, you get the idea! :) In this big city of Moscow, where people prefer to mind their own business, public travel is always very quiet. (unless there's a drunk around) The bus or metro can be filled with people, but no one will talk. They all sit in silence. Some are sleeping, some are reading, some are listening to music, while others are just simply staring at their lap or the door. It always amazes how quiet everyone is. I'm describing some of this to you because something happened the other day that I did not expect! A lady didn't quite make it onto the metro car before the door slammed. Honestly I'm not exactly sure how she managed it, but she got her food stuck in the door.

    I took a picture thinking that's a bad day in the metro, that poor lady lost her whole bag of food! What happened next was just sweet. The man whose hand you can see grabbed the food as we came to a stop. The doors opened and he got off and just waited. This was our stop as well and we decided to stop and see what would happen. :) When the next tram came to a stop, the lady got out and there was her food waiting for her! This nice man took time out of his day to help her out. She thanked him and gave him something from her bag. I was so touched, and the Russian lady with me was shocked! I'm glad that there are still kind people who think of others with no goal of personal gain. In a cold country, based in the largest city of that country, a little kindness goes a long way to warm a heart! 

    Saturday, March 23, 2013

    Bolshoi Theater

    Moscow never ceases to amaze me with it's beautiful buildings and rich history. I was able to experience some of that last night with my sister-in-law Hannah and Sasha, who is a friend of Hannah. It has been Hannah's desire since she was 10 years old to visit the Bolshoi Theater. Well, for her birthday yesterday this finally came true. It really is a once in a lifetime type of experience. Tickets are not cheap, but for a one time experience at this amazing theater it was doable. I would send to the Wikipedia page about this, but much of information is outdated and incorrect. They recently did a massive and very expensive renovation on the theater. They did an incredible job and the beauty of the theater seriously took my breath away. Everything was exquisitely ornate with great attention to detail. I couldn't take as many picture as I would have liked to due to restrictions on camera use. The pictures that I did take hardly portray the real beauty of it all. So here are a few pictures from our memorable night!

    This is in front of the Bolshoi Theater.

    The beautiful views from in front of the Bolshoi!

    TsUM (department store)

    Dropping our coats off at the cloakroom.

    The ticket to pick up my coat after the performance. :) I thought this was just fun!

    My binoculars to see the performance. :) I thought these were worth it to rent. It is a bit difficult to see details from the balcony.

    The inside! GORGEOUS!!!!

    The live orchestra was amazing! 

    Me with the birthday girl! :)