Thursday, July 28, 2011

What do the Russians eat???

Now that I'm headed to Russia I'm researching travel.  First topic is what are we going to eat..

It is the most popular and the most famous Russian soup. There is a strong belief that a woman is a good wife only if she can cook borsch. Of course it is said humorously but there's a true point to it because everybody loves borsch! It is made on a meat or chicken bouillon of beetroots, carrots, potatoes, cabbage and other vegetables. Borsch can be hot or cold. The taste of borsch is different with every cook, because there is space for imagination when you are making it! If you got interested and would like to try and cook borsch at home, you are welcome to peep in here. But we advise you to first try it at a Russian restaurant or at a Russian home and then come back here, jot down the recipe and cook it for your friends or relatives or for yourself!

Some people love it more than borsch! It's the favorite of many people whom we know, including foreign guests! Solyanka is a very special soup. It's made of different kinds of meat, pickled cucumbers, olives, pepper and spices. Some put prunes or lemon inside - there are different ways of cooking this soup.

They are little balls of minced meat wrapped in thin dough and boiled in water. They are especially delicious with different sauces - sour cream, mushroom sauce, tomato sauce, and also with butter, vinegar, or mayonnaise. Russians eat pelmeni in tons! They can be home-made (then they are especially tasty) or one can buy them ready and frozen at a department store and just boil at home very quickly. That is why they are sometimes humorously called "food for bachelors". In restaurants they are hand-made and usually the cook makes them a real work of art!

They are big pieces of minced meat with rice and spices inside, wrapped in cabbage leaves and stewed in tomato sauce with prunes, greens, pepper or other spices (like thyme, coriander, basil etc.). Golubtsi are considered to be a meal for special occasions and they are not cooked very often, but nevertheless loved by practically every Russian.

Blini (pancakes).
These are very special in Russia. Their recipe is very ancient. Even many centuries ago Russians cooked them. We say "to bake blini" by old tradition though they are actually fried on a frying pan now. It is considered the most elaborate art of a cook to make blini very thin. And believe me it is not an easy thing to do! Blini are baked of wheat flour and served with diverse fillings - butter, sour cream, honey, salmon, trout, caviar, mushrooms, minced meat, cottage cheese, home-made jam (varenye) of such forest berries as bilberry (whortleberry), red bilberry (red whortleberry), cranberry, gooseberry, cloudberry, raspberry, bramble (blackberry) etc. Initially blini were made to such traditional Russian holiday as Maslenitsa. This name comes from the Russian word "maslo" which means butter. This holiday is still widespread in our country. It symbolizes saying farewell to winter and welcoming of spring. Maslenitsa means joy, feasts, presents and public festivities. People used to dress up and go out visiting their friends and relatives and in every home there were (and are now) blini made for everyone!

They are small very thick pancakes made in a slightly different way than blini. Here, just the opposite, the art of making them means that they should be as thick as possible. They cannot be filled with anything, but they are usually eaten with sour cream, honey, or varenye.

Originally this meal was not Russian; rather it came to us from Azerbaijan which was part of the Soviet Union once. However, it is extremely popular here. It is rice cooked in a special way with oil, carrots, and chicken, meat or turkey.

These are pieces of thin dough in which different stuff is wrapped - berries, cottage cheese, sometimes potatoes or buckwheat. They are boiled and then served with sour cream or butter.

Meat "a la Peter".
Perhaps this was the favorite course of Peter the Great, that's why it's called so, but we cannot tell you for sure. One thing is certain - it's absolutely delicious! This is meat stewed with mushrooms and onions and then baked in the oven in pots! This very special meal is cooked for great holidays as it requires great skill of the cook.

These are thick scones made of cottage cheese mixed with sugar, eggs and flour. Our foreign guests are crazy about them! They are eaten with sour cream, varenye, or honey and are especially good with tea. Try to make them yourself!

It is a very special Russian fish soup. Cooking real ukha is an art. It is especially delicious if cooked outdoors. Say, you go fishing and then cook ukha out of the fresh fish that you've just caught yourself, under the open air in an iron kettle on the open fire. Ukha should smell of the fire smoke! And it is usual to have it together with Russian vodka. Got interested in the experience of Russian fishing? Try it yourself when you are here! Learn more on the page We offer.

This is also a very special meal not for having it every day. It is chopped and mashed meat poured over with broth and stiffened like jelly. It is served with mustard or horse radish.

Only Russians eat mushrooms in such quantities! There are so many kinds of mushrooms here that they cannot be properly counted. It's an ancient Russian tradition to pick up mushrooms in the forest, eat them freshly cooked (fried, stewed, or boiled in a soup), and also pickle, dry or marinate them for a long Russian winter! Soups are especially tasty if made of dried, not fresh mushrooms, though it depends on a kind of mushroom. In the English language there are even no names for the mushrooms that are picked here in Russia. If you are in our country in late summer or early autumn, we invite you for an authentic Russian experience - mushroom picking in the forest! That is something that you would not be able to take up on your own. Russian forests are magical and mysterious; they are real forests, not groves. Forests where mushrooms and berries can be picked are often characters of Russian fairy tales and legends. They are filled with ancient and mysterious creatures… If you want to feel the atmosphere of the real Russia this adventure is for you!

Salad "Vinaigrette".
This salad is made of beetroots, carrots, potatoes, peas, pickled cucumbers, with oil as a dressing.

Herring "under the fur coat".
Oh, this is really loved by us Russians! This salad is composed of several layers (as many as the cook likes) and contains beetroot, carrots, potatoes, herring, onions, eggs, with mayonnaise as a dressing.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

So we got the call!

I'm sitting at work on a conference call when I see AACs number pop up on my phone.  My first thought was “could this be the call?”  How could it be, I was not expecting to hear something for months but my agency always emails she doesn’t call.  I could not get off that conference call fast enough.  When I called AAC Lindsay told me all about our little girl.  I think my body temp went up like 50 degrees!  You know to this point we were just going through the motions but when you get "the call" it all becomes very real, this is really happening!!  We got her information in the mail the next day and watched the video over and over again.  She looked perfect.  I have read countless blogs and I always think, “how can they possibly fall in love with a picture?”  But you really can.  When watching the video all I wanted to do was grab her and hold her. 

After talking with 2 IA doctors we are feeling really good about her health and we are ready to go see her.  Joe whom to this point has not been that involved in the process, said to me this morning that he is really excited to go see her and how he was looking forward to having a little girl in our family.  I’m sitting her smiling as I write this, patiently waiting for travel dates which I hope will be in August. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

No Biking in the House w/o a helmet!

So after listening to the Creating A Family radio show featuring Melissa Fay Green Conversation with Melissa Fay Greene: No Biking in the House, I just had to read her book.  Melissa is the mother of 4 biological children that decided to grow her family through international adoption.  What I loved about the book is that Melissa goes into how she felt going through the process.  She talks about the feeling of "OMG I have just destroyed my family" and the issues she had with Post Adoption Depression.  I liked hearing that these feelings are normal and that they will pass.  I also enjoyed the fact that Melissa went in to some of the difficulties with the children both biological and adopted.  I think this helps to paint the picture that kids will have challenges and they aren't the end of the world.  I think what makes the book an even more interesting read is the stories she tells of her time in Ethiopia and the relationships the boys have with their relatives.   I have really enjoyed this book.  I would recommend reading the book and then listening to her interview with Dawn @ Creating A Family. 


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

4th of July 2011

My oldest son's favorite holiday is the 4th of July.  For Brett, the 4th ranks higher than even Christmas.  This year I thought we would start off with some festive treats.  So I made these.... 
And these....

On Friday we went camping at the lake to celebrate a friend's birthday.  The guys enjoyed setting up all of the tents.

Kids can be so helpful when you bribe them with fireworks!
Unless of course they can't participate because they haven't done their school work all week...Poor Brett had to do his Kumon at the lake!!
Oh but the joy we had when we finally got to shoot some off.  Look how excited these kids are over one little race car.
Sunday we spent the day smoking meat with some friends and lighting a few sparklers.  Then Monday the kids opened an illegal fireworks stand.
 Which they ended up burning up all of their inventory and had nothing left to sell.

Our neighbors and family enjoyed the shade.

Later we headed out to my sister's house to light off the "real stuff".

Brett ended up at Grandma and Papa's for the night and we ended up with this...
It doesn't get better than this!!


I debated whether or not to write about this but I figure why not be open, a blog is supposed to be all about our thoughts.  Prior to starting the adoption process I spent many months going back and forth with myself as to whether or not we should pursue this adoption.   I read a lot of stuff on the internet that terrified me.  But then I would read blogs where the people really looked happy and the kids looked happy.  We eventually decided to move forward and things got really exciting.  I couldn’t move through the paperwork stage fast enough.  At the end of May the paperwork was done and all we had to do was sit back and wait for a referral.  Well what do you do when you have time to waste??  I started reading the internet again and started to get cold feet.  You know, the fear that I’m going to destroy my family with a child that turns out to be more than I can handle.  All logic said what are you doing??  Jax will be in school soon and you will have time to yourself to get organized, you can take cooking classes, volunteer at the school.  We could invest the money we saved for the adoption and be financially more secure.  All of that sounds so great but something inside was still driving me to pursue this child that was going to be so difficult to bring home and may hate me for the first year that she is here.  I couldn’t understand why I kept going through the motions to move forward with this.  So I decided that enough was enough and I picked up the phone and actually called some adoptive parents instead of just reading blogs.  I have now spoken to 7 adoptive moms.  Most of the moms I spoke to were super excited to talk to me about adoption and all but one spoke highly of their experience.  One mom told me that she had the same worries, “what if this happens or what if this goes wrong”…then she said “Crystal, what if it’s the greatest thing you have ever done”.  That really resonated with me.  I have spent so much time trying to find something on the internet that is going to tell me that everything will be okay.  It’s just not out there.    I wanted to write this so that other PAP’s will know that if you are having these same thoughts I think they are probably normal.