Saturday, December 4, 2010

Cool links

Well it is about 3pm right now and for the past few hours I have been cleaning and rearranging things around in my house. My dear in-laws have left this morning to go back to Turkey and I feel like by doing all the cleaning-and- putting- away- things I am embracing on to my duties of the sole woman of the house. For the longest time, more then 2 month, my mother-in-law has been cooking and keeping my kitchen perfectly clean. Now after being taken care of I will go back to cooking. It will be very light cooking since we all have gained a lot of weight and need to shed a lot of pounds. So I hope I will start posting new recipes and nice pictures. In the meantime I would like to share a few links I have liked this past week.
This one is totally fun. Slow the video down and learn a lot.
This one is especially for my dear sister Alina, who has moved into her own apartment recently. I know you love Jammie, Alina, so here are some new videos from him. Check the others on the right.
This video is very curious. I am happy to live in 21st century. Don't you?
And here is some more history... of Europe
Have a great week-end

Friday, November 26, 2010

Christmas mood

Are you all in a Christmas mood yet? I am! My older son is listening to Christmas music on 103.3 non-stop. I mean if he comes downstairs to have lunch he has to have his Christmas radio on here as well. Do you guys have you favorite Christmas songs? Mine is this and this is my son's . The other boy doesn't have his preferences yet I guess. He still tries to fight the whole idea of Christmas songs playing. He wants his McQueen or at least Barney.
Anyway. The spirit is here. may be we should start decorating the tree soon...

Marry Christmas Boston!

Last week we went to Boston. And it happened to become one of those rare days when we felt like we were in the right place in the right time for many things.
It started with Boston Common. We stooped there to let my little guy have some fun at the playground when a lady came over to invite everybody to see the arrival of the Christmas tree from Nova Scotia to the Common. Even Santa was there to welcome the kids and give them some presents. It was lots of fun. My 2year old proudly announced everyone that night that Santa has hagged him.
Then we went towards Downtown Crossings and saw a Christmas tree being installed over the entrance to Macys and TD Bank was welcoming everyone with free coffee, cookies and lots of music. It was cute to see people with smiles over there faced. Great site to see in the morning if you know what I mean.

And then I have spotted this cute book store en plein air
and this fun paper installation in the window.

By the time we were going back to the car the tree was almost in place:) I bet it has light on it by now.

It was a good day. Tomorrow though there is going to be a Christmas parade in our town. Kids are all excited to go. For me it will open an opportunity to start using Santa shamelessly to make kids cooperate . What can be better. Santa is in town!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Alexander Petrov

My dear friend has sent me a link to an animated movie made and directed by a famous Russian animator Alexander Petrov this morning. All the rest of the day, every minute I could spare I spent looking up more and more information on this phenomenally talented man and all his previous works.
I started this morning with 'My Love' - his latest work. Then I have learned that his 'The Old Man and the Sea' has won Oscar in 1999 for short animated movies. I will quote Wikipedia here to describe you the technique he is using: 'the films are made entirely in pastel oil painting on the glass, a technique mastered by only a handful of animators in the world. By using his fingertips instead of a paintbrush on different glass sheets positioned on multiple levels, each covered with slow-drying oil paints, he was able to add depth to his paintings. After photographing each frame painted on the glass sheets, which was four times larger than the usual A4-sized canvas, he had to slightly modify the painting for the next frame and so on. It took Aleksandr Petrov over two years, from March 1997 through April 1999, to paint each of the 29,000+ frames for ' The Old Man and the Sea.'
I cannot tell you enough how impressive his movies are. The sea is alive and the sky is absolutely real. It takes your breath away to watch and my mind refuses to understand that something like that is humanly possible. It makes me happy to be alive!
I am sorry for a poor translation of the "My love'. It lucks the depth of the original text and doesn't cover all the lines, however it still delivers the idea of what is going on on the screen. So let's be thankful.
'The Mermaid' was made earlier but still just as magical.
How much I want a CD with all his movies. Or rather a Blue-Ray to get all the details. Unbelievable!

Monday, November 22, 2010


Doesn't this name sound cute for a dish? To me it sounds a little bit childish. Sort of like a name that a kid can come up with naming his favorite meal. However this breakfast dish is definitely the one for adults. With some spicy paper and occasionally meat too it is very flavorful and satisfying. It is good both for a crowd that stayed overnight and for a quiet breakfast for two. And it is very simple too. All you need is:

1 small onion
1 small Anaheim pepper or any other of your favorite.
salt and pepper to taste
1 tomato per person, piled
1 -2 eggs per person.
ground beef (optional)

On the picture you see it being done with some leftover meat from dolma stuffing that we ate the day before and scallions. But it will be just as delicious without any meat.
Start by sauteing onion and pepper in some oil. Make sure to season it with some salt and pepper. Once they are golden and soft add chopped tomatoes.. Let them cook for about 5 minutes until they are soft as well. Now it is time to crack the eggs. Feel free to swirl and turn the whites to ensure they are cooked but try to leave the yolks untouched since they will become your special treat to break on your place. You might want to cover the pan for a little bit to help the eggs cook but please watch it carefully in order not to overcook. Yolk has to stay soft.

Serve with lots of fresh soft bread since you would want to use it to clean the plates. Yumm!
P.S. Sorry for the quality of the picture. No time to stage the food. I can only take the picture while things are on the stove now. he-he

Monday, November 8, 2010


My days are busy, busy. Trying to do as many things as I can while my in-laws are still here. The other day I woke up and realized that I haven't been to my favorite Boston for more then half a year. I live 30-40 minutes away by car and I love to come occasionally to walk around and to feel the city's vibe. However I haven't been able to do so in what seems like the longest time. So I thought I would to use the opportunity and go there alone before its too late and too cold. I picked the South End for my stroll. I just love the atmosphere of this neighborhood. Too bad the galleries were closed but I had the most amazing time just walking around and enjoying the cafes, shops and whatever South End-right-after-the-Halloween had to offer.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Joy in life

I have stumbled upon some great videos so I can't wait to share them with you.

The first one is a creative idea from the "Theory of fun" initiative by Volkswagen in Stockholm. Little things that make our life better.

Now these creative people brought even more fun to a subway trip. We just have to go to Berlin.

And this is McDonald's in Europe

But the last one I 've got to share is by far the most joyful. I love drinking my Tropicana in the mornings but now I love it even more.

Hope these fantastic videous will brought a smile or rather smileS to your face and to your day.


P.S. I took this picture of Pooh's house in Harvard.


As some of you might know my in-laws are visiting right now. And one of the great things about it is that I get to witness my mother-in-law cooking some of the most delicious things I have ever eaten. I will try to go over the most interesting meals in my other posts but now I will tell you about something that is definitely the most unique dish I have ever eaten. It is a soup . It is called TARHANA and it takes about a week to make. The transformation that it undergoes on every stage is phenomenal. I am not going to give a recipe here - very few people in Turkey still know how to make it. In our fast paced life who has the time for it , right? So I consider myself lucky to say I have tried the real thing.

It all starts as a big pot of red bell peppers, tomatoes and onion. Nothing else. Whatever liquid you see on the photo are natural juices from the vegetables.
Then she added about a 2 pounds of yogurt and lots of flour and let it rise for a couple of days. Occasionally she would knead it to ensure proper rising.

Then when she felt like it was ready she torn it onto big pieces and spread them over the table to dry.

I helped her to break the big chunks into smaller pieces. And since the weather was still gorgeous the dough dried in a couple of days.

Then we brought it inside and with the help of my food processor we broke it down into almost dust. Still it had to dry even more.

Only after about 5 more days she was satisfied and was ready to put it away to store. As you can see we have much. And it would last for about a year. It becomes one of those very easy things to cook because all you do is dissolve 5-6 spoons in beef or chicken broth with some tomato paste. And of course some dry mint on top:)

I promise to update the post later with a picture of the soup itself. I can't really tell you what it tastes like but you definitely feel the sourness of the dough and the texture has some jellyness in it. Beautiful on a cold winter day.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Tomorrow morning we are going to a Lego Festival with my older son. Even I am getting excited!
Oh, the things you can do with Lego ! Have you seen this or that.
And talking about NY. I thought this was funny Link.
Have a great day!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Things I like

I thought I would share some interesting links with you.

First this amazing collection of photographs... Talking about being in Linka right place at the right time with the camera.

And then... have you heard of this Ballerina Project?

And then this! Quite different, don't you think? Kind of cozy! Still don't want to be there, hehe.

Flying over the Atlantic a lot myself I couldn't relate to it more.

Enjoy your day!

"At the porch"

Don't you love this painting! I can't get enough of all the wonderful details in the girls costumes and the entire mood of the picture is so soothing!I wish I can have the original to hang in my room! This is a painting by Russian master Rostislav Filitsin ,1855. Here you can see a couple of other works by him (click to enlarge).
Recently I have stumbled upon a great blog where the author is trying to introduce us to a great number of mostly unknown Russian painters. Have fun browsing through the catalogue. Hopefully the fact that it is in Russian would not stop you from enjoying the art. Please click on the name from the list on your left and you will be forwarded to their works. Don't forget to click on the pictures to appreciate it in bigger format.


Thursday, September 2, 2010


I am back! I know I haven't been posting anything recently. Combination of kids being out of school+ fantastic weather made us spent very little time at home. So during this hectic times I did not feel inspired to write anything and there was no time for me to take camera out and picture what was about to be eaten. But good things are coming to an end and my big boy is going to his first grade. So life will find its routine now and you will see more from me I believe.
Today I am posting a recipe for Russian blini the way I make them here. Of course they never come out as good as my mom's , but I hope you will still like them...

Usually the same batter works for different types of blini I make. If you pour a little bit more of the batter to the pan and swirl it to cover the bottom you will get a traditional sized blini. Serve them with sour cream and jam or stuff them with sweetened farmer cheese ( both rolling and folding will work).
The other option is to make three-four little blinis per pan. To me they look cuter and they work better if you want to serve them for a party with say a dollop of cream cheese and smoked salmon on top.

The bottom picture shows how I play with blinis when cooking for my boys. The key here is to use regular soup spoon for pouring to get a better control .

One more note before I get to the recipe. In Russia blinis are traditionally made with spoiled milk. It is very economical and convenient. Once milk turned sour they leave it on the counter overnight for it to fully separate. And then use it as a base for blini. Here in States the milk is ultra pasteurized so it has a longer life . I hardly ever gotten to the point when my milk got sour. So I am using another popular option-Kefir, which still gives you these sour notes in the flavor that we are after. Previously I tried making blini with milk and they were ok too however I was lucking the familier notes so once Kefir became widely available in supermarkets my blinis got better too:

1 cup of kefir (preferably at room temperature*)
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 or more tbs sugar
1 tbs oil
white flour ( about a cup)

In a bowl beat first 6 ingredients with a wisk. Now it is time to add flour. Start with half a cup and wisk everything together. Continue adding and wisking untill you get the desired consistesy. It should still be runny but thik enough to allow you to spread batter on the pan while swirling. Here is a trick. If you did not wait for the kefir to get room temperature just pour a bit of boiling water at the end into the batter to ' warm it up' . The blini end up being more airy this way.
Now fry them with a little bit of oil over the moderate-high heat. I like making my first one and trying it right away in order to adjust salt and sugar or may be adding more flour/kefir. Finish with the reast.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I am back in States after almost one month in Russia. So I keep thinking about what makes us the people we are now. How important some basic things for our identity. Things that define the meaning of our home and our roots, things that are the simplest but yet the strongest in showing who we are . It is all about our childhood memories after all, isn't it?

To me it is the smell of freshly picked wild strawberries.

As kids we would pick a few along the path and bead them on a string of grass . But the best is when you go picking berries into the forest with the whole family and you are handed a mug to fill. So you pick these little rubies and then right before you dump them into a big basket you stick your nose in your mug just to loose yourself in this heavenly aroma. I am telling you this is the best! And have you even tried a home-made jam made out of wild strawberries?

Or some young potatoes with lots of butter and fresh dill! And a young garlic on a side.
My dad's kebab with a simple salad to come along.

And of course Russian bread... Oh it is so different and so authentic.

And you know what else I realised. Russia IS a country of birches. Growing up you cannot help but hear the most wonderful words about birches from all the poets of the country but I guess you have to live in the different country or at least travel a lot to finally come home and to feel it with your own heart. Birches and purple candles of Ivan-chai flowers were so symbolic to me this time around

Thursday, May 27, 2010

My mom is here

Hi everyone. I know I haven't been writing anything recently. My mom is visiting!!!! So I haven't really been doing anything new or anything Russian. Instead I was trying to impress her with the new things that I have learned to cook over the past few years. I've made her a few of my favourite soups and she seams to like my shrimp over white beans, and quiches and my spinach burek (I should actually try posting the last one since it is very Turkish). I am waiting for her to start spoiling me in return once I am in Russia which is going to be in 2 weeks from now! Ain't I lucky!!!

Today though my dear neighbor was over and we have had a nice lunch together. Thank you mom for making these most delicious blini with tvorog ( farmer cheese). They were soo good! And thank you Deanna for my beautiful peonies!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Lentil snack

OK the original name for this dish is "Mercimek Kofte". The closest translation would be Lentil Meatballs. But hey there is no meat in here. We are talking a light vegetarian meal which is perfect for a warm season. You serve it cool on a crisp lettuce with a squeeze of lemon. This is what summer meal is all about, isn't it?
1 cup of red lentil
1 cup of fine bulgur*
2 tsp of salt
2 onions
1/3 cups of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp of black pepper
1 tsp of red pepper flakes
1 heaping table spoon of tomato paste
lots of chopped green onion and parsley ( to your taste)
* I have never tried it but I assume couscous would work here as well since it has the same properties as fine bulgur.
In a big pan cook lentil in 2 cups of water until it is done.Turn the heat off and add bulgur and salt. Mix them well, cover and let stay for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile fry onion in olive oil. Once onion is soft add garlic and spices. Cook for one more minute. Add tomato paste and saute for another couple of minutes. Now it is time to add onion mixture to the lentil mixture. Mix them well and leave to cool.
Now it is time to do all the chopping of parsley, green onion and any other of your favorite herbs: say dill or mint or cilantro. Try to mince them rather fine.
Once the mixture is cool enough to handle give your precious hands a good wash and start shaping the kofte.
Serve on top of the lettuce leaves with lemon wedges on the side. I like using the smaller center leaves or cutting the big ones in half to stay even on the kofte size.

Pink peaches

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Zucchini muffins

This is very American to me and I loove it. It was in our local cafe where I have spotted a delicious looking slice once. I did not know what it was. It just spoke to me. I had to try it! And now I am forever hooked on zucchini bread. More then that: I have hooked my sister on it and my whole family. I am sure that every once in a while my mom still proudly shares the recipe with her new guest. But I have already modified mine from that I have found many years ago here. I use whole wheat pastry flour and reduced its amount to 2,5 cups ( the bread was somewhat dense for me). I reduced the amount of sugar to little over 1 cup. I like to take half oil and half yogurt for the fats and sometimes when I have it on hand I like to replace 1/4 of a cup of oil with almond or grape seed oil instead. Plus I use pumpkin mix to spice things up. Besides recently I have started to bake them as cupcakes for my son to take to school. I bake a batch and freeze them. Since he likes chocolate chips and blueberries I put either one to make him happier. And of course I skip on nuts because its for school.
So here is how I do it:
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups of sugar
1/2 cup of oil
1/2 cup of plain low fat yogurt
2 cups grated zucchini
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 tbsp pumpkin spice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup of blueberries or chocolate chips.
Preheat the oven to 325F (165 C).
Beat the eggs until frothy. Add sugar, oil and yogurt. Mix in gently zucchini. In the different bowl combine all the rest of the ingredients. Now combine them all without over mixing.
Pour the content into 12 muffin cups. Bake for about 20-22 minutes. I use convectional oven so my results can be a bit sooner then with other ovens. Cool them completely.Cover each with foil , put in the Ziploc bag and freeze.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A package

You should have seen our faces when we have received a package from Turkey last week. We were glowing with anticipation for more then a week almost tasting our treats to come. And so here they are now. We were like kids on Christmas morning impatiently tearing off the packaging. My dear hubby got his sucuk - a Turkish dry beef sausage. You should see how much he treasures it. He seams to be determent to make it last longer then possible. As for me - I've got the best pistachios in the world- the little jewels from Antep city in Turkey. They are unbelievable! If you have never tried them you do not know the real taste of pistachios. Then there were candies, chocolate ( gosh they know how to make real chocolate in Turkey- Dark chocolate with pistachios anyone?) and cookies. I think kids loved their treats but definitely not as much as we did ours.
If you are around you are welcome to come and try some. Can't guarantee it will last though.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Kotleti - is Russian for meatballs or mini burger patties. I thought i would share with you my version of it adapted from my family recipe. You see unfortunately I do not own a meat grinder. The old-world one, the sort that is made of heavy duty metal and requires you to turn the handle manually to operate. I am determined though to bring my grandma's one some day to America even if it will cost me arm and leg with the suite case overweight. This thing makes the juiciest most delicious kotleti ever! And you do it by grinding the meat, onions and the white bread soaked in milk together.
So while in here I was determined to recreate them by using what I have. The trick is to puree onion with white bread soaked in milk in a blender. Or you can also use regular bread crumb. In that case you just add them together with 1 tbs of milk to the meat mixture .
I think I was able to make them as close as possible to the taste I know from my childhood.
Here is how you do it.

1lb of 93 % beef
1 onion,
1-2 Tbs of milk
1 slice of white bread (0,5 '' wide)
1 egg
some chopped parsley
salt, pepper
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin

Start by pureeing onion and bread soaked in milk together. Then in a bowl mix all of the ingredients including the onion mixture by hand. Form patties and fry 3-4 at a time in a pan with the cover on. You would want your heat to be medium low. And it requires very little oil too, just to prevent from sticking. Kotleti will cook very quickly. About 2-3 minutes per side.
Serve with mashed potatoes, rice or on top of your bread for a delicious quick lunch .