Sunday, May 27, 2012

Russian foods

We are in Russia and  have to get used to the fact that things are different here in many ways. For instance electricity. It doesn't take much to overload the circuit breaker causing the appliances to stop working.
We have a SMALL washing machine so it's necessary to do frequent loads because they are much smaller. However, I have to time when I use the washing machine because I have learned the hard way that the washing machine and the oven and stove top and fans can not all be on at the same time. The oven is small too so I can either bake one batch of muffins or a casserole, but not both at the same time.
If I were to roast a turkey it could only be a small one because anything over 10 or 12 lbs wouldn't fit. Not to worry, though, because if I am lucky enough to find a turkey it will be around 7 lbs anyway. Talking of turkey, let's talk about other Russian food.

We have been going every week to this Russian restaurant in Zelonograd called Hoki Poki (our pronounciation.) We have enjoyed trying different traditional Russian dishes.
So far we've had:
Cherry dumplings (main dish) - little handmade dumplings filled w/ cherries and a light sauce. Yummy. Kind of a strange main dish though. I have seen it in the freezer section at grocery store too.
Vah ren ih kee - little homemade dumplings w/ onion and potato served w/ a mild and flavorful white sauce. Very similar to a pierogi and very yummy.
Meat or fruit pies (side dish). Little bread pastries (not sweet) w/meat, cabbage, apples or mushrooms served in a breadbasket.
Borscht the traditional Russian soup made of beets. Surprisngly very tasty,especially for someone (me) who was afraid of beets. ^_^ 
Potatoes are a main staple and we have had potato dishes w/ onion and pepper that was very tasty.
One food we have seen at the Hoki Poki but are afraid to try is meat jello. It looks oozhis (awful). I don't know if we will ever be brave enough to even take a bite.

We haven't found wheat flour, but it is possible to get dark bread (Pumpernickel or rye). We found the most delightful bread at the local bakery. Hearty and delicious and 25 rubles per round loaf, which is under $1. There is no preservatives in their bread.
Buckwheat and oats are easy to come by and fresh fruits and vegetables are in abundance. The strawberries this time of year are wonderful and are imported from Spain.
What I miss and wish I could find is:
black beans (bagged would be great.) There are plenty of kidney beans which I have been using.
PUMPKIN. I LOVE pumpkin. I use it year round for main dishes as well as breads and pie.
baking powder
Pumpkin pie spice and poultry seasoning (there are a lot of fresh spices - I just need to figure out what they are)
Vanilla. You can find vanilla sugar here, but no vanilla extract.
Salted butter.They prefer unsalted which is very bland.

Because we are on the go so much and traveling to Moscow at dinner time, we eat out (more often than we like to really). Fast food places include: Katoshkees, where you get a hot baked potato and toppings of your choice; Kentucky Fried Chicken which tastes like it does back home (according to friends of ours - we haven't eaten it), SubWay Sandwich shops, my favorite fast food place; McDonalds are EVERYWHERE and so are Burger King, Papa John Pizza and Dominos. They also have nice buffets in the malls where there is a good selection to choose from. Papa John's isn't bad and we eat it at the office occasionally.

Also, on Music Alley you pass by  a stand w/ this HUGE piece of roasting meat hanging in front and Sharmas are  very popular sandwich made with this meat and various veggies and cheese. It smells good, but since we don't generally eat meat, we haven't tried this.

Russians love mayonnaise and put it on almost everything. Little Nicole who we met last week in Lotoshino. loves mayonnaise with bananas. Yep, it's true. I've seen mayo added to cooked noodles too. They also like catsup and there are many different brands to include Heinz.

Foods are packaged smaller. A box of ice cream or cold cereal are about 4 servings, Eggs, which are NOT refridgerated are sold by the 10's.

We'll continue to share any unusual or different foods we may try. Highly unlikely that we will try
K-vass, which is black bread drink or the meat jello.

We send our love to our friends and family in the States. Until next week, dos vidonya.

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