#23: Russia

Na zdorovje!

That’s Russian for “To your health”. Typically, they say this as a toast– and we’d like to extend it to you as we toasted Russian cuisine this weekend with Vodka and much more. Health is something we salute a lot here in the BIG 30h!3. The Brovsky adventures usually include something active and we’re currently enjoying the love of all things fall (like soccer and football). I’m confident that we will be toasting to health for many years to come, so for this week, Russia was along for the ride.

We are Russian/Slovak in heritage on my father’s side… hence “Brovsky” for those not paying close attention. Thus, we were looking forward to a “homecoming” of sorts. My mom pointed out that this is the time of year for homecoming, so it seemed to be appropriate. We were positive that it was not the right weather for Borscht- it, after all, is no longer summer. So we went for a fall oriented dish, Stroganoff. That’s traditional. We also wanted to make a side salad type dish, so much like Ukraine in week #3 (which was twenty weeks ago, guys!!! WHOA!) we picked a traditional cucumber salad which was similar but different. We actually liked this one better than the Ukrainian one. We also got to revisit sour-cream-on-everything-syndrome that we loved so much from the Ukraine… those Russian countries are the best at that. Everything was full of creamy, rich goodness. It was lovely. We made some Russian rye bread too! So that’s three foods this week in celebration of our Russian heritage…. not to mention we pregamed with some DazBog coffee and rounded out the meal with some Vodka. Week #23 was phenomenal.

Beef Stroganoff Recipe: http://easteuropeanfood.about.com/od/russianmaincourses/r/Beef-Stroganoff-Recipe.htm
Russian Rye Bread Recipe: http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jan/13/food/la-fo-oldworldbreadsrec4-20110113Russian Cucumber Salad Recipe: http://tanyazouev.com/the-zakouska-table-russian-cucumber-radish-salad/






















Ease of prep and cooking: THREE STARS out of five for this Dinner.
We took three dishes for this country. Overall, that effected the degree of difficulty slightly… but as the running joke at the Olympics has always been: the Russian judge is typically a bit tougher to impress. Luckily, the Russians, are known for their “no nonsense” type of attitude, which translates well into their food culture. The recipes were straightforward and easy to follow. There were no strange meats or cheeses to hunt down. We didn’t have to spend hours babysitting food or prepping vegetables. This one was easy in that respect, but it was a whole lotta food to take on. We made the bread in the bread machine– there was soccer games to be played, so we couldn’t be bothered to knead the dough by hand and let it rise, etc, etc, etc. Boring. We had bigger fish to fry. Metaphorically speaking, of course, since the meat wasn’t fried fish, it was top sirloin. Mmmm, my stomach makes yummy noises when I type that particular cut of meat. The stroganoff was simple, and was served on top of egg noodles as traditionally eaten. Probably a little more complex than our Americanized “stroganoff” versions, but still easy overall and CERTAINLY better tasting. The cucumber/radish salad was ridiculously low maintenance and tasted better than others we’ve encountered. Pretty good picks for the week.

Best dish of all time scale: FIVE STARS out of five for the Dinner
There was much to be said about the meal, but we couldn’t say much of anything because we were too busy stuffing our faces full of all the wonderful things Russian promised us and delivered. Let’s start with the DazBog coffee– we drank this whist preparing the food this week and it was lovely. I usually prefer strong coffee, but the medium roast mom surprised us with was delightful. The noodles and stroganoff were hearty. Exactly what you think of when you think of “the old country”. They were just what one’s sweet little babushka would make to have her “matryoshkas” (russian nest dolls) grown up big and strong. We loved the bread– my dad is a tough critic when it comes down to authentic Russian/Slovak food because he grew up with the real thing, so to have him comment that it was a “five out of five” is saying something. The end of the meal, as with many I’m confident in Russia end, was topped with ice cold Vodka from the freezer. (Though, I learned that my usual favorite vodka comes from France?! WTH, Grey Goose?! I felt a little betrayed) The Vodka didn’t live up to the real stuff my cousin Kaitie brought back from Moscow a few years ago… it was still a nice way to toast “to our health”.

I was able to watch Anna Karinia while I wrote this one up for you, but for next week, we will need to pack a little less warmly as we make our way to the Caribbean, man! The winner of the poll for this week’s country was Turks & Caicos— so Week #24 will bring us The Bahamas! I wonder if we will encounter pirates… a girl can dream, I guess 😉


Pleasant eating, comrades,

– L & K


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