page is all about food and cooking! I love to make traditional
Russian and Ukrainian dishes, and often we go shopping for
groceries in an Edmonton store that imports original foods
(more about that later).
kitchen is the heart of the home - often, especially in the
country, it is the place where everybody including the guests
likes to spend time while the livingroom goes unused.
When I was a little girl I lived for a while with my
grandmother in a little village near Tambov which is a town
southeast of Moscow. I loved the feel of the old
farmhouse which had a kitchen not unlike this:
still remenber how good the tea was that came from a wood
fueled samovar, and the flavor of the vegetables and fruit
that grew in the garden. My mother is now 82 years
old but still maintains a large garden in her simple
also keeps chickens for the eggs and has usually a flock of
geese and some ducks which go to the children for Christmas
roasts. A few years later my family lived in the town of
Vorkuta in Siberia. Now we were not so fortunate to
enjoy the country life since the town is situated above
the Arctic Circle and we lived in an apartment. But still the
kitchen was the center of our home life.
It looked something like
When I was 19 years old I started to collect recipes in a book which I
still have and use today. I got lots of great recipes from my mother and
grandmother, family and friends.
Obviously, it has become a little tattered over the years, but I think
of it as patina! It still sees alot of use, especially when it comes to
the preparation of traditional dishes for the Easter and Christmas
holidays, and one day I hope to pass it on to my daughters.
our single most important staple food, and one of the simpelest to
prepare, is Salo. We buy thick strips
of porkbelly on the market
(preferably early, because the best cuts naturally sell first), which
are then cured in a mixture of coarse salt, garlic, pepper and
coriander, or marinated in a similar mixture with water. Everybody uses
different variations of this simple recipe, adding 'secret' ingredients;
because everybody believes their endproduct is better than the
neighbour's - or their brother-in-law's.
The next day, the strips are slowly smoked using smoke from a hardwood
fire for about six hours - you don't want to get it too dry - in a
smoker like one of these:
On the left is the old smoker made of bricks in my mother's yard; my
brother made the one on the right from an old fridge. After the Salo
is removed from the smoker, it is briefly dipped in boiling water.
to eat! Salo is almost always accompanied by Vodka,
pickles, rye bread, raw onion, fresh tomatoes and dill - a combination
that is hard to beat!
Before we get more into the individual foodstuffs and dishes,
check out these old advertisements:
An obviously happy Soviet lady cooking Wieners! Next to that and
advertisement for candy; it is not clear why the crayfish theme was
chosen but I like the graphics and colors.
This is an ad for Raki, a type of crayfish that is found in freshwater
creeks and rivers. You can buy live ones on the market, or in the
country even catch your own or pay someone to get you a bucketfull.
Briefly boiled with some vegetables, herbs and spices, and accompanied
by a cold beer, the make for a great summer lunch!
Christmas Eve, we traditionally cook twelve (for
the twelve Apostles) dishes which cannot be prepared with
meat or dairy products. You can see some of them here on the table at my
Kutya - wheat cooked with poppyseed, honey, walnuts
Pampushky - a type of
Perogies/Vareniki - a type of filled
Golubcy - cabbage
Kolach - a special bread
White Beet Salad
Baked Fish with
Blini - a type of pancake - with two varieties of
Sushky; a hard pastry; represented on a Russian
So where to go when we crave
down-home foodstuffs? We go to the European Market & Produce
Grocery, which is located at 6607 -177Str NW in Edmonton (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Alexander, the owner, immigrated from Ukraine with his Russian wife 25
years ago. After working in a machine shop for some years, he realized
there was a market for authentic Eastern European foods and began to
Today, the market sells a large quality selection with fresh produce,
meats, cheese and fish (they even have the dry cured variety that goes
so well with beer) and also carries bread, fresh poppyseed cake and
sweets like Ukrainian chocolate treats. All items are well presented,
the staff are bilingual and it is a pleasure to shop there.
Bulletin boards and free publications are provided and help our
community to stay in touch.
Look at the picture of our kitchen table with a good spread of kolbassa,
various meats and cheeses, bread and a salad of marinated fish; and of
course there has to be sto gram of vodka! ( the pickles and
pickled vegetables in the photo which cannot be absent from our tables
are homemade by myself).
My older sister, a retired
nurse, runs a small but very successful bed and breakfast in a small
town adjacent to the Carpathian National Park in western Ukraine ( I am
also a nurse, and my baby sister is a nurse in Inta, Siberia). We love
to visit there, and to go hiking in the beautiful nature. There is one
food the people of our culture love almost as much as our beloved salo:
the mushrooms of the wild forest, where the wild boar, the majestic red
stag and the brown bear still roam. It didn’t take longer than a few
hours to fill our baskets with these delicious mushrooms which my sister
then prepared for dinner.
897pxIt goes without saying that
you have to know what you’re doing - some of these mushrooms are very
toxic and dangerous to human health. This example is a fly mushroom.
Farmers used to pick it to cut it up and mix it with milk in a pot. When
put in the house, this concoction attracted all the flies and killed
Right across from my
sister's house, a mountain stream runs in a ravine, and in a couple of
hours of fishing my husband provided this tasty table fare.
I am asked to do a little catering for birthdays,
wedding parties and other events of that nature. Yesterday I ( with two
helpers) made a few hundred cabbage rolls for a
filling of seasoned rice, ground beef and onions - and presto, after
much rolling - ready for the oven! This time, my daughter also
contributed one of her highly sought after cake creations - I like the
choice of colors on this one