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! :)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A morning chat...

It is a quiet morning for me as I sit here drinking mint green tea. (It's so good! Thanks mom and dad for the great idea!) My hubs isn't feeling too well, so he's still sleeping. There's been some pretty nasty flu bugs floating around Russia this winter. One missionary south of us had a healthy, active man in his church pass away from this bug. Another missionary in Siberia was very ill for weeks. Praise the Lord he is doing better. One man in our church got very sick, but he is also doing better. Our family has stayed well, and for that we are quite thankful. It makes me thankful for the prayers of others! Oh how missionaries need your prayers!  I must admit when my hubs woke up this morning and told me he had a sore throat and didn't feel well at all, my heart sank a little. Prayerfully, it's just a little bug that his body will fight quickly and easily.

It is considered springtime already here in Russia. It may not look like it or feel like it compared to growing up in Kansas, but our calendar says it to be so! :) March 1 is considered the beginning of spring here. It's very interesting. There are 12 months and four seasons so each season gets 3 months. Plain and simple...:)  There are still a few feet of snow on the ground, and I will admit that I'm excited to see the ground again! Moscow received record amounts of snow this year, but despite the inconvenience it really is beautiful! Snow can be wet, cold and make travel (especially by foot) a bit troublesome, but I'm still not over the incredible beauty of it!

We have a girl here visiting from Southern California. Yes, a Southern California girl in Russia! :) Some of you may know her. Her name is Jennifer Dunlop, and her dad is a pastor. She is teaching English in Moscow, and enjoying many new experiences! :) She is a talented photographer as well. I think she has captured the beauty of winter in Russia quite well so I thought I would share some of it with you. Enjoy the pictures, and I hope you all have a delightful day! :)

This is in our city of Domodedovo.

This is the forest behind our house. It's beautiful in every season!

I absolutely love all the birch trees! 

This is front of our house. Lots and lots of snow! :)

This is a site I rarely see. We don't make it to this part of Moscow very often. That is the Moscow river full of sheets of ice.

I had to throw this one in there. This is a great picture of old and new Moscow. The smaller buildings are very old apartment buildings from back during communism. The very cool looking blue building in the back is a newer apartment.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Meet Millie

I have always loved rabbits. When I was 5 years old, my parents gave me an adorable grey, floppy-eared rabbit and I've loved rabbits ever since. I've had a few rabbits since then and they have become a favorite pet for me. It sounds a little silly perhaps. They don't do any cool tricks, although some have been masterminds at escaping. They aren't good protectors, but I do love coming home and being greeted with happy hops and a few quick sprints around my legs. They are just sweet, adorable creatures with cute little noes and long can anyone not melt in that cuteness!

For the last year we have been looking and considering getting a rabbit. It was very difficult (since we were having to leave every 3 months for visas) to have a pet with our strange schedule. Since things have calmed down a bit, and we have been blessed with 3 year visas, it seemed a good time to get a pet. We enjoy going to the pet store and just looking at the cute animals they have. A couple of days ago we were doing just that, and the cutest little baby bunny grabbed my attention. It's soft, grey body and long, floppy ears instantly won my heart. It looked so much like my first rabbit! I knew right away she was perfect for us! So here she is...Millie, the new addition to our household! :)

She's enjoying a snack from the pet store. Just look at that adorableness!! :)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Decorated chocolate bars

One of my favorite past times is crafting. My favorite kind of crafting is anything that includes card stock, ribbon, and a rubber stamp! I shipped some of my craft stuff over in boxes and brought the rest in suitcases. I couldn't bring everything, but I'm pretty excited about what I have. All of my craft stuff has been packed away in storage with my parents for over 3 years. One of the great things about having things packed away for a long time, is that feeling of excitement when you open it up and remember all the fun things you forgot about. I have slowly been bringing over some of the our things in suitcases. It has worked well since we were having to leave every 3 months.

Let the fun begin!

If any of you all are also fans of rubber stamping, you might notice I love Stampin' Up! I got into stamping with my mom when I was 12 years old. That was 17 years ago!! you all know how old I am...Today I decorated some chocolates for the ladies at church. March 8 is Women's Day, and we'll be handing out a gift to all the girls. Women's Day is great! It's like Valentine's Day and Mother's Day all wrapped up into one wonderful day! :) 

Every good idea starts with chocolate!! 

With some card stock, ribbon and a flower punch...

And this is what the chocolates look like now! So I just realized that my camera cord made it into the picture! haha I guess my photography skills could use some work! :)