Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day, February 29th

I have a strange feelings today. This extra day is a bit confusing, I'd say.
First, thank God, we survived the stormy night. All that severe weather coming our way was getting on our nerves starting late evening and into the night, especially when Storm Prediction Center issued a tornado watch.
My men went to sleep but I couldn't. I was on a watch in case the siren went on: I was ready to wake them up and drive to a tornado shelter. I had my computer on and was checking the moving storm, especially those tornado forming hooks, on three websites about every five minutes.
All of the sudden, about one hour before that storm front would be here, the dangerous cell split into two and went north and south of Fort Smith.
The tornado season in this parts has officially began. Personally, I don't understand how people live here: every year tornadoes take so many human lives, destroy and ruin many others. It seams that I am missing something... Do people get use to it?

Today all my thoughts go out to the families who were hit by the last night tornadoes.

How was your Leap Day?

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Celeriac-Leek Soup

Celeriac-leek soup

For the first day in about a week I am back to my normal workout routine: two hours of yoga for Tuesday! Great feeling of achievement contrasted with a hungry stomach gurgle, as I don't eat before my workouts.
I came home with an urgent need of something warm, quick and tasty. From the refrigerator shelf a celeriac root was smiling at me: pick me! pick me! Hm? Really? Celeriac root? Dear me, turn in your hard drive and think how this imperfect root can satisfy your need for a warm, quick, and most important, tasty meal, that would go with the bread I baked last night...

And a celeriac-leek soup was "born" in about 20 minutes.

Celeriac-leek soup


  • 1 celeriac root (washed, pealed, and cut in 1/2 in pieces)
  • 1 leek (washed and chopped)
  • 2 Russet potatoes (pealed, washed, and cut in 1/2 in pieces)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1,5 cup vegetable broth or just plain water
  • 1-2 tbsp heavy cream
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a string of thyme

In a heavy pan (cast iron or stainless still) preheat oil, add leek, and stir.
Add a little salt and stir.
When leek softens (in about 2-3 minutes), add celeriac. Stir, and cook another 2-3minutes.
Add potatoes and pour the broth or water just enough to cover the potatoes. Stir again, bring it to a boil, taste and add more salt, if needed.

Pour a broth or a water just to cover the ingredients in the pot...

Reduce the heat to medium and cook 12-15 minutes (until potatoes are done).

Next step is different from any other blended soups. 
I added to the blender only the amount enough for one portion as I was having lunch by myself. I use to blend all the soup and then leave it and reheat later. But I found that keeping it in chunks and reheating it right before blending reserves more flavor.
I also add a fresh garlic to the blender to spice up the soup. 

Another step I do differently is the way I add cream to the soup: a little cream to the plate. This way soup is not too heavy.

Celeriac-leek soup with a home made savory bread

Enjoy and come back for more!

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

Monday, February 27, 2012

A homemade Chèvre, and a Goat Trip

Rolling hills - a lovely drive...

Another trip I had last week was to the goat farm to buy some raw goat milk for my yogurt, cheese, and other  milk requiring creations. 

Baby goat. Isn't she cute?!

I have to admit that I wasn't fond of a goat milk for a long time: I fell yet another victim in a rumor mill about goat milk tasting a bit funny (?!) Did I try it first? No! I just decided I don't like it because many other don't. 
When we moved here, I couldn't find any good source of raw cream top milk (in other words non-homogenized), or actually, any source for that matter: Arkansas doesn't allow to sell raw milk for some reason. 
So after researching local resources, I found at the farmer's market  the Goat Lady, Ginger, (she makes a wonderful goat milk soap), who was kind enough to add me to her goat milk clients list: if I can't have a cow's milk, I'll have to get by with a goat's milk. 
It was a pure discovery: goat milk tastes great! I love it. A word of advise: before you say you don't like something try it yourself first, you maybe surprised! 

Those goats are free to gaze on grass. Grass fed goats produce sweet delicious milk!

I haven't seen Ginger in about three months because goats were in "producing very little milk" stage. With the spring at the doorstep, the goats surprised me with the milk coming my way. 

The view along the way to Hackett

Happy me went on a road trip to Hackett, AR. I love this drive - rolling hills, beautiful scenery, peaceful landscape. Round trip for a balance, harmony, and ... goat milk. I didn't miss the opportunity to buy a carton of fresh eggs, and a new Rose essential oil soap - it smells amazing! 

Ginger  makes soaps in the pretty molds - perfect gift for myself or my friends...

Since I started my goat milk adventure, I made from it: yogurt, soft cream cheese, and now, ladies and gentlemen, Chèvre! 

I wanted my  Chevre in a bite size form...

Remind me not to buy a Chèvre in the store again: homemade tastes heavenly good! 
Chèvre is very easy to make: add a culture to a milk heated to 86F, let stand for 12 hours, drain and press! And it is  much cheaper than a store bought log of Chèvre. 
And I can add any flavor I want, such as dill. 
Chèvre dill balls were perfect addition to our dinner tonight. 

Beauty in its pure form...

If you want to learn more about goats, goat milk and goat milk products, visit Ginger's web pages
She has some impressive assortment: soaps, lotions, lip balms, sugar scrubs, laundry soaps. I am going to try her other products and will post about it. Stay tuned!
Milk has been used in a beauty products since ancient times, remember Cleopatra's beauty secret?! 

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian
Copyright © Cowboycountryvegetarian 2011. The whole content of this pages are sole property of the author and can not be used without a consent. Please, e-mail me: to ask questions.

My Oscar Weekend (in photos)

Oscar 2012. Red carpet event in cat's view...

Here are the nominees... (hold your breath!)

I can't believe it! Was it my name? I won?! I won the Oscar!!!

There's too much light in my eyes, that Oscar is rather shiny!

Now what?

I guess, I am back to my normal routine... It's better...

Take a moment to smell the roses...

Breathe and smile... 

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

Copyright © Cowboycountryvegetarian 2011. The whole content of this pages are sole property of the author and can not be used without a consent. Please, e-mail me: to ask questions.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Oscar Night Dinner - Mushroom Pate

Mushroom Pate for the Oscar night dinner

Another mushroom recipe I want to share with you is a Mushroom Pate. This delicious dish can be served as a meal itself (warm or cold), an appetizer, or on a sandwiches.
This Pate is a perfect dinner for the Oscar ceremony night!
Mushroom Pate


  • 3-4 lb mushrooms (crimini, white, portobello, or a mix), diced
  • 3 large onions or 4-5 small, chopped
  • I tsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (+ 1 tsp more for greasing a baking pan)
  • 1 hard boiled egg (optional)
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup grated cheese (Gruyere, Romano, Cheddar, or any other you like)
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 2 tbsp white wine (optional)
  • 1 tsp dry dill
  • 2 leaves fresh sage

Preheat oil and butter in a large sauce pan, reduce heat to a medium-high, add onions and saute for 15-20 minutes until golden brown, stirring.

Onions are ready
Remove onions from the pan, using a slotted spoon (you want to leave all the oil in the pan), set aside.

Preheat oven to 375F (190C), but continue on the stove.
To the same skillet add diced mushrooms and saute about 20-25 minutes until all liquid has evaporated and mushrooms are turning brown. Add salt and pepper, stir, and if any more liquid is released by mushrooms, let it evaporate.  Stir as at this stage mushrooms can burn very quickly!

Mushrooms are ready

Remove mushrooms from the sauce pan and set aside.
The bottom of your sauce pan should have a nice brown (not burned) bits. Add 2 tbsp of flour mixed in a cup of cold water to the pan, stir well, add 2 tbsp white wine (optional), reduce heat to a medium-low and cook for about 5-7 minutes, stirring a few times. You will have about 2/3 cup of wonderful mushroom gravy.

Mushroom Gravy

Add salt and pepper, sage, dill, or any other herbs you like. Taste. Adjust the flavor by adding more salt and pepper. Taste again.
Next, add mushrooms and onions to a food processor to mince it.
In a mixing bowl combine mushrooms-onions with 2 tbsp of gravy, 2 tbsp grated cheese, and mix well.
I don't have a pate terrine, so I used a bread baking pan. Oil  the pan with olive oil or butter, add one half of the mushroom mixture to it, level and place sliced hard boiled egg in one row through the middle. Add the remaining mixture, press well, and cover with the remaining grated cheese.
Place in the oven for about 20-25 minutes (until the cheese on the top starts to turn golden).

Mushroom Pate with Pecorino Romano cheese

Remove from the oven and let it cool down, and then slowly go along the edges with a spatula or knife to loosen up the pate (although, if you have a non-stick pan, you may want to use a wooden or a silicone spatula for it), and transfer the pate to the plate. 

Tasty on a slice of oven toasted bread 
 Are you going to watch the ceremony?

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Road Trip - Rogers, AR

Rogers, AR

This last two days I've been on a go. My first road trip was to a small town Rogers in North-West Arkansas. The road took me through the breathtaking view of the Boston Mountains. Day was calm and sunny, but land was ready to burst in a full bloom. 
Stirring the wheel, I remembered driving visitors around Seattle area and listening to their admiration and comments about Lake Washington and the gorgeous view of Olympic mountains ahead and Mt. Rainier on the left. I realized that when we lived there, we took surroundings for a granted: view was everywhere you look. 

Mt.Rainier, WA. Photo courtesy of A.Mischenko

As much as I try to find positive and beautiful things here in Arkansas, I have to admit, I miss Seattle to the ache in my chest. I would kiss every single drop of the rain when I go back (in 16 months, after my husband is done with his residency program. Actually, it's 493 days). 
And even though Rogers is following Bellevue on the list of 100 best places to live in the US, I  would still choose the rainiest part on the world. 
Well, enough of nostalgia. And back on the road. 
The reason of my trip to Rogers was to visit Williams Sonoma store. 
I needed a shopping therapy...

Best store ever, I love just to go there! 

I've collected a few gift cards to Williams Sonoma store through the year, and I decided to turn it into another Le Creuset pot. 

Shopping therapy...

WS and Sur La Table often have an exclusive offer on Le Creuset at a very reasonable price. I've been on a watch for the special deal for one of my favorite pots for a few years, and my patience was paid off: I got 4.1l (a little over 4 qt) pot for $150 (in my gift cards), almost $100 in savings! 

I had some cards left so I treated myself with some other kitchen gadgets to help me with my nostalgia.

Another gadgets...

I have to admit, I am really addicted to the iron, not only at the gym, but in the kitchen too. Who is the cast iron addict? I am! I could never have enough cast iron pots, skillets, dutch ovens, etc. Especially as cute  as the Le Creuset!

Do you have any kitchen addiction? 
Do you believe in shopping therapy?

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

Mushroom "Caviar" (spread)

Herbs from my garden: lovage, sage, and rosemary 
Mushrooms are one of the staple ingredients in my kitchen. I use about 10-15 lb of mushrooms per month. What do I do with it?
Spread, pate, stuffed mushrooms, and many other dishes that I remember my grandma made along with the new ones. Mushrooms are not picture perfect material, but by blog is not a food fashion show. Hence mushrooms, along with other "ugly ducks", eggplants and artichokes, live on pages of this blog. Hey, Julia Child's books don't have pictures at all, and how popular they are!

I think they are pretty...

Mushroom "Caviar"

For this recipe you need just a few ingredients:

  • 1-2 lb mushrooms (white, crimini, portobello, or any other you like)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp mayo (I use Grapeseed Vegenaise)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Clean and rinse mushrooms. Make sure you don't leave the mushrooms in a water: mushrooms are sponges and will absorb a lot of water in it. 
I clean mushrooms with a damp towel from any dirt and debris, then I quickly rinse them. 
Cut mushrooms in 1 cm (1/2in) cubes.


Preheat olive oil in a large skillet or brazer. 
When oil is hot (bubbles starts to form), add mushrooms, stir, and turn the heat down to a medium. 
Cook 10-20 minutes (until liquid evaporates), stirring occasionally.

Liquid evaporated and mushrooms start to brown: add salt and pepper

When all liquid evaporated and mushrooms start to brown, salt and pepper it, and taste. Adjust seasoning, if needed.
Remove mushrooms from the skillet into a mixing bawl to cool down.
Set your food processor (if you don't have one, then wait for mushrooms to chill, and mince it with a knife).
In a food processor start with garlic until minced (or mince garlic with a knife).
Add mushrooms and run food processor for about 10 seconds.
Add mayo, run another 10 seconds. 
Make sure all ingredients have minced to the same size. You may need to scrape sides of the ball, and run food processor for another 5 seconds.
Place the "caviar" into the serving bawl.

Mushroom "caviar"

Mushroom "caviar" (spread) is delicious. It is great on toasted bread, with vegetables, and as a dressing to any salads. 

I love it on a sliced tomato, mmm!

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Smoothie Day

Today is Fat Tuesday, and  today is also my Kale Tuesday. I wanted to have Fat Kale Tuesday but realized that for all my ideas I have only a half  bunch of kale and a few kale leaves from my own tiny garden. While working in my greenhouse, I was debating with myself on which side to go: fat or healthy, By midday I got hungry for a nice cold smoothie: today was in a mid 60sF (17C), kinda hot for February!

This "toy"  has three horse power! 

During hot summer months our Blender lives on the kitchen counter, and we make smoothies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and in between. 
After changing five (yes, 5!) blenders, we decided it's time to invest in a good one, that can serve our needs. Umm, actually, one that serves my kids and husband's needs to have frappuccinos. A few months of savings, six months to be exact,  and a good Costco discount, and one day we brought home a new kitchen "toy" Blendtec blender - with a three horsepower motor! 

Tomato in a greenhouse was sparkling in a morning dew...

So, after a nice few hours of work in my garden and in the greenhouse, I pulled the blender from it's winter hiding spot and put all those three horsepower to work! I looked at the ingredients in the refrigerator: pineapple, kiwi, kale? Yes, Kale! Lets see what it would taste like. 
25 seconds later and I had a pleasure moment to enjoy: cool Kale smoothie. 
Why I didn't make it before?! It tasted great! 

"Mmm, I am good!"

I am a victim of the saying: "I am not so rich to buy chip things", in reverse though. We always go for a chipper stuff and end up spending more. Because we stepped on a same rake over and over by buying chip only to realise that it's not what we need or to find out that's not working properly, we are wiser now, a little... 
We do our research before we buy (actually, we always did), think it over and over, and then we make our decision weather to go with chip or more expensive item. 
Blendtec was worth every saved penny: powerful (crashes ice to a perfect Starbucks consistency, well, Starbucks uses Blendtec too! I think that's how my husband figured out we needed this model...:); easy to clean (very important); versatile - I make my own flour, sunflower butter, almond milk, you name it - this three "horses" can do it all!  

Do you have a favorite kitchen "toy"? 
Or do you dream about one?

Until next time,
Cowboy country vegetarian

Monday, February 20, 2012

Maslenitsa - Pancake Week

Painting  Maslenitsa, Boris Kustodiev, 1919 Source

Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Sächsilüüte (Swiss), Fastnacht (German), Fastelavn (Norvegian), Απόκριες (Greek), Masopust (Chech), Maslenitsa (Russian)... What do all this names have in common? Those words are the names of the carnival seasons in the different regions with celebration of a reach and fatty food before the Lent begins.

To honor my husband's ancestors, I decided to surprise him with a traditional, no, wait, a mandatory (!)  food for the Russian version of Fat Tuesday. Actually, in Russia it is a week long celebration and is called   Pancake week or Maslenitsa. Each day of Maslenitsa has it's own activities, one of which is when son-in-law  visits his parents-in-law, and mother-in-law makes Bliny (lace thin pancakes) for her son-in-law.

Bliny are a lace-thin version of a pancakes

Thanks to the Internet ans Skype, we had a virtual visit  from my mother, and she "reminded" me to make some bliny for her son-in-law (she must like him very much if she remembers this details!). 

Making bliny (a thin version of a pancakes) is not a rocket science (shhh! don't tell my brother, who actually is a rocket  scientist, I said that: he hates when we make such comments about anything a little bit more complicated. He always sais that rocket scientist are a normal people ).

I don't have a recipe for the crepes/bliny, but the closest one to what has been done in my family for generations, and how I was taught by my grandma,  is Alton Brown's Crepes.  
It is so  easy to make , that my son learned to cook bliny/crepes when he was just tall enough to hold a pan at the stove.

Bliny (crepes) with Mushroom Filling

Ingredients and batter

Here's a list of the ingredients I used:
eggs, flour, water, milk, pinch of salt, and olive oil. I didn't use any butter, which is traditional for bliny. And I never measured the flour, milk and water: it just comes naturally. My son though does use Alton's recipe (without the butter, though) and it comes out just as thin.


2. pour on a skillet

3. and flip!

For the Mushroom filling:

  • 1/2 lb mushrooms (crimini), choped
  • 2-3 shallots, choped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, diced
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dry dill (or a tbsp of fresh, choped)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oil  in a cust iron or  a stainless still skillet.
Add shallots, add salt, and stir 2-3 minutes until golden-brown.
Add choped mushrooms and cook on a medium-high 5-7 minutes, stirring a few times.
Taste. Adjust the seasoning, add more salt and  pepper, and taste again.
In a ball mix eggs, garlic, dill, and cooked mushroms. Taste to see if more salt and pepper needed.

Place a spoonful of the filling on a midle of each crepe, and wrap it.

My healthy option: without the butter over the top.

I didn't have a chance to bake it in the oven as two hungry men were guarding my each move and totally refused to wait another 30 minutes. I hardly made some pictures of it.

For a dessert we had bliny (again) with a heavenly delicious raspberry-red currant jam and a cup of tea.

Dear Mother, your son-in-law had a pleasent surprise and was happy for the rest of the day. He asked me if we can have more Russian food on the table not just this week. Did his ancestor's genes just woke up and talked to me? Although I am not an expert in the Russian cuisine, I'll give it a try.

Crown of this tree is another "lace", created by mother-nature...

Dear friends! Whatever carnival is closer to your heart, I wish you the best time with a good food, happy dancing and a lot of fun!

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian