Woman in Kitchen



        

This 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).

The 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:

                    Farmkitchen  TableSamovar on Table                           

I 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 country  home.


Mum with a goose

She 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 this:                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Kitchen in Tenement      


           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.

                          Old Recipes                Old Recipebook                                         More Recipes 

   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. 


 Probably 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.

Pig's head on the market

   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:   

                                            Brick smoker                                     Metal smoker                                                                                                                                                                              


      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.


                               Plate of Salo




Ready 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:

                                    woman cooking sausages Raki Ad


                                                                                                  Candy Ad                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                           

       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.

                                                           Crawfish

    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!

On 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 daughter's house: 

Kutya - wheat cooked with poppyseed, honey, walnuts                            Pampushky - a type of donut                                                                Perogies/Vareniki - a type of filled dumpling                                              Golubcy  - cabbage rolls                                                                                     Kolach - a special bread                                                                                         White Beet Salad                                                                                              Baked Fish with Mushrooms  Christmas Table                               

peasants lunching










 

                                                                      Blini - a type of pancake - with two varieties of Ikra (caviar);
                                                                        and Sushky; a hard pastry; represented on a Russian stamp










Blini







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 (europeanmarket@mail.ru).
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 import them.



Cheesecounter in store             Fishcounter              Meatcounter  Ukrainian Chocolate 


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.


Russian Spread and Vodka



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.



maushroom from the forest
                      carpathian mushroom
wild mushroom        a cluster of  small wild mushrooms








basket of wild mushhrooms






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 them.




toxic fly mushroom




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.






fish from a mountain river





Sometimes 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 wedding.




                    filling for cabbage rolls                                                                                                cabbage rolls ready for the oven                                                                                                                                    




The 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


wedding cake created by my daughter
































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