Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Warm Kale and Roasted Corn Salad For The National Kale Day


Did you know that today is the Queen of Greens (a.k.a. kale) Day? 
I didn't... until I opened the Facebook and there it was - The National Kale Day! Even more, it's Inaugural Kale Day, and one more reason to celebrate. As a big kale lover I couldn't ignore it. 
I love kale in any form (except overcooked) and shape. I was chewing on my kale chips when I learned about the kale day. Every day is a kale day in this family. Some like it more (me), some eat it in salads without even noticing that it's a kale salad (my husband), and some don't care much about green leaves at all but eat it hidden in their foods (my kids). Kale salads, kale smoothies, kale micro greens, baby kale, kale soups, kale burger, and many other kale meals are made in my kitchen on a regular basis at any given season. When I started my blog I dedicated Tuesday to all things kale, and called it Kale Tuesdays. That's how much I love kale! I also love bitter melon (speaking of my taste!) but that's another story.  :)
This time of the year, when warm days are rare and sun is behind clouds most of the time in rainy Seattle, we like to make warm salads, and kale is one of the best greens for that as it keeps it's crunchiness and shape. Oh, and delicious too! 



Warm Kale and Roasted Corn Salad

Ingredients:


  • 1 cup corn 
  • 1 bunch kale (or two generous handfuls of baby kale)
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 lemon (juice and zest)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • salt to taste


If using kale leaves, tear it off a stem and into a bite size pieces. Wash, and dry it in a salad spinner or pat dry it with a towel.

Wash, cut, pit and mash an avocado. Mix it with a lemon juice.

Place the kale leaves in a large bowl,  and gently massage the avocado mash into the kale leaves. Set aside.

Mix corn with a smoked paprika, olive oil and liquid smoke, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and place it on a baking sheet. Turn your oven to a broil and place the baking sheet with corn on a top rack. Broil for 5 to 8 minutes (until corn has some chars on it). 

Immediately stir the broiled corn  in the kale-avocado mix, toss it well with red pepper flakes and lemon zest, and add salt to your taste. 

This salad is often our dinner, lunch, or snack. It's quick, easy and so good for you! 

Also, from now on The National Kale Day will be celebrated every year on first Wednesday in October. Yey to Kale!

Are you on a Team Kale? 
What is your favorite kale dish? 

See you,
Marina



Thursday, September 26, 2013

Pancake Day


This morning, before I went on with my daily routine, I had my morning cup of tea and a dose of Facebook. From there I've learned that today is a National Pancake Day. Well, it took care of my dinner plans and I carried on with my Thursday 'to do" list. Quite quickly I realized that I am missing a few ingredients for my pancakes. 


See, what we call pancakes are actually crapes that come with different fillings. Some like it savory (me), and some like it sweet (the rest of my family). The sweet filling wasn't an issue: I have plenty preserves to cover a few miles of pancakes. 
As of savory part I knew exactly what I wanted but I had to get it. If I were as good as my mother in mycology (part of biology that studies fungi) I would go foraging for some wild mushrooms, specifically chanterelles. But because of fear of being lost in the woods keeps me always on the hiking trail my chances to pick some mushrooms were very small. 
So I went "foraging" to a local farm that sells chanterelle mushrooms, and  qtoday it was as fresh as it could be (by looking at it I had suspicion it was picked this morning - that fresh!) 
Why did I want to go through all this trouble? Well, because a) it is a chanterelle season (and I guess all other mushrooms too), and b) I wanted my crapes stuffed with mushrooms and cheese. 


There's no recipe today, everyone knows how to make crapes, right? or pancakes? Then just choose your topping. 
For me it was fresh chanterelle mushrooms, sauteed in a little butter with shallots. Then I topped crapes with mushrooms and some Manchego cheese, folded it and warmed on one side in a skillet until cheese started to melt. Oh my! 
For my sweet loving part of the family I made ricotta cheese filling with a touch of honey, and topped the crapes with raspberry preserve. 



As of that National Pancake Day, it's confusing. I've seen it being celebrated on February 5th; then on February 28th; then on September 26th, then in Russia it's a whole Pancake week before Great Lent. 

But then, do we need a reason to have a Pancake day? :)

See you,
Marina

Friday, September 20, 2013

Welcome Back!



We have moved!!! I think it said it all about why I wasn't here lately. I tried. But with packing, moving, two graduations, driving cross-country, unpacking, and everything in between... there wasn't much time left for blogging. 
One evening, somewhere in Arizona, while struggling to connect to a hotel's wi-fi, my son said to me: "Why are you getting so anxious about posting? Take a break, everyone needs some vacation time, even a blogger". I looked at him with admiration: smart kid! "I think I might just do that!" was all I said. 
I am so glad I did take a break. I was worn out both mentally and physically. Let me tell you, moving is no fun! Even if it sounds pretty exiting at first, when you get to the reality of actual process it's a lot of work. Well, you know that, right? 
With all that said, I did miss all of you this Summer, no question there! I am so glad to be back indeed.



Unpacking is not the only thing I did upon our arrival. Because we spent a good half of the Summer traveling my other goal was to catch the season by it's tail and preserve something for upcoming winter. 
For that I go to our Farmer's Market every Saturday, and, oh boy, what a bounty there is! I buy berries, fruits and vegetables in bulk. We eat it fresh as much as we can and the rest goes into jams, jellies, relishes, gets pickled and fermented. I experiment with the recipes, and I make things old fashioned way, a.k.a. my grandmother's and my mother's way. 


Yesterday I made this absolutely delicious tomato sauce, after which it would be really-really hard to use a store bought one. The recipe is from my mother (I am sure many home cooks have something similar in their recipe box), she always makes it in large quantities. We are talking about 50-70 liters per year here. I made a small batch to try. Tonight, teenager and his friend had last of the sauce with pork ribs.  I guess I have to do more bulk shopping for tomatoes. 



The recipe for this basic tomato sauce is very simple, the secret is in simmering this sauce for 1,5-2 hours, steering 20-25 minutes to prevent it from scorching.  

2 kg (5 Lb) tomatoes
500 g (1,5 Lb) onions
Basil leaves

Run the sauce through a food mill or tomato strainer, and it's ready to become a delicious pasta sauce (just add salt), or more intense meat sauce, or tomato soup base, or whatever you chose it to be. It tastes fantastic. Try to make it, you'll be glad you did. 

See you,
Marina



Thursday, July 4, 2013

Graduation #2: AHEC-West


Last Saturday eight new doctors were graduated from University of Arkansas for Medical Science Family Medicine Residency Program. Congratulations to all, and especially to my husband! He worked really hard to become a doctor in the United States. We both are a first generations immigrants, that came to the Land of  the Free with degree and some experience. 


But here he had to start all over again: tests, more tests, and residency, which was not easy to find as most residency programs do look for a new medical graduates with five years cap. It wasn't easy, but all his  hard work payed off (he just came to me and said to correct to: "Our hard work"). It took just eight years, and here he is: board certified and licensed new doctor in our family. 

Receiving the Diploma

With Former Program Director Dr. Acklin (left)

Our teenager (left) with guests

We were happy to have our friends at the graduation

Our friend Lisa (left) and new program director Dr. E. Spradlin (right)
Graduates and attending physicians were having fun! 
Family... 

and friends.
And here what it all was about...

Congratulations to all graduates! 

Congratulations to my husband! 

Congratulations to my dad, who's celebrating his birthday today! 

 And Happy 4th of July to all! 

***
See you,
Marina

Sunday, May 26, 2013

High School Graduation

May 23rd 2013
Southside High School, 
Fort Smith, AR
























Congratulations to all grads! 

See you,
Marina

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Mmm... Sun Kissed Cheesecake (with the recipe)



My son loves cheesecake. He always orders it when we go out to eat. He asks me to buy some for him at the store. And I never do. And I feel guilty... 
I love my kids so much that I can't force myself to buy them a cheesecake (or anything else for this matter), that would hurt them with all those chemical and artificial ingredients that should be kept locked in a lab under biohasard warning sign. 



I love my kids and I want them to enjoy food, the real food. And if I have to walk an extra mile looking for real food I'd do it.


So I start with a trip to a local farm, that raises happy goats and chickens, and all other animals on pasture. When it comes to food, I am a control freak: I need to know where did it come from, how it was raised and produced. I was excited to learn that in our neck of the woods natural farming exists, and I was able to find eggs from free range chickens, raw goat's milk, grass fed beef, naturally raised pork. All of this just a short drive to the Cedar Creek Farm in Cedarville, AR. 


Eggs come from this chickens, that roam free on this beautiful pasture and have full access to their favorite food: bugs, grass, seeds, rocks... 



Milk for the cheese come from a friendly goats, that eat, play and rest on the sun all day long.


First, I have a glass of fresh raw milk. It's a meditation moment: I close my eyes and smell a meadow.   It puts a smile on my heart, and fills me with even more love. Love is an important ingredient to put in your food, or anything you create. And then I make a simple cottage (or farmer's) cheese for my cheesecake. 



***
Sun Kissed Cheesecake

Ingredients:

1/2 cup organic polenta (plus Tablespoon for dusting the baking dish)
2/3 cup milk
1 Tablespoon butter (and some for greasing the baking dish)

4 cups farmer's cheese (drained overnight cottage cheese can be used)
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar 
1 Tablespoon sour cream, or buttermilk, or kefir
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon Grand Marnier (optional)
pinch of salt (1/4 teaspoon)

1/2 cup raisins
1 cup boiling water



Directions:

1. Pour boiling water over the raisins and let it soak for 20-30 minutes.

2. Pour milk in a small sauce pan and bring it to a boil, stirring to prevent milk from scorching. Take off the heat and slowly add polenta, stir in the butter and mix well. Cover, and let it cool.



3. Pre-heat oven to 180C/ 360F.

4. Prepare an 8 or 9 inch spring form: lightly grease it with some butter, dust it with 1 Tablespon polenta, and tap to knock out the excess polenta.

4. Drain the raisins and pat dry it.

5. In a mixing bowl (or stand mixer if you have one) whisk together eggs and sugar. Add cheese, sour cream, Grand Marnier (if using), and vanilla, and beat well.

6. Add polenta mash, and mix until all well blended.



7. Stir in raisins. 

8. Place the thick batter into prepared spring form and with a spatula even the top. 



9. Bake the cheesecake for 45-50 minutes. 

It could be made in two small spring forms for a cute looking cakes

Cool cheesecake completely and serve with sour cream and strawberries, dusted lightly with sugar powder (whipped cream can be used instead of sour cream, but try with sour cream first, you'll be surprised!).

***



The recipe for cheesecake has been in our family for a very-very long time. And it was always made out of home made cottage cheese. Therefore I can't tell you what it would be if made out of store bought cheese. 
Making your own soft cheese is very easy, and I will make a post about it. For now, enjoy the cake! Sun kissed indeed. :)



See you,
Marina

P.S. This Thursday is our son's graduation from the High School. On Friday container should be here for packing. It looks like a busy week ahead. So... With all that said, my posts will be sporadic for the time being, until we move and settle somewhere. I also may not be visiting your lovely blogs as often as I'd like to.  But I think of you all often. Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving your touching comments! 




Friday, May 17, 2013

Star Trek


A few months back while having lunch with my friend Bryan I found out that he is a big fan of the Star Trek series and over the years had gathered quite an impressive collection of Star Trek memorabilia. When I learned of a new movie coming to the theaters today I ask Bryan if we could do something special to post on my blog. 
So... Are you Star Trek ready? 

***

Written by Bryan Fowler
Photo props are courtesy of Bryan, except the cake.

In the beginning, Star Trek took us on a galactic journey with Captain Kirk in command of the Starship Enterprise NCC-1701. The original television series began in 1966 and ran for three seasons. Its mission was to seek out other life forms and civilizations, and Russian cheesecake recipes. Also, the original cast was featured in 22 animated episodes in the mid 70's, and six movies between 1979 and 1991.


                                        ____
                                         
The second television series in the Star Trek universe brought us a new ship and crew, and took place on the Enterprise NCC-1701D over 150 years after the original series timeline. Star Trek: The Next Generation featured Captain Jean Luc Picard leading his crew on a seven year mission which was broadcast between 1987 and 1994, with summer breaks for eating cheesecake.


 ____

The Borg are bad guys in the Star Trek universe, assimilating entire species into their collective. Their blend of advanced cybernetics and organic life forms presents an almost unstoppable force. They declare to those facing assimilation that Resistance is Futile, but they occasionally discover that it is not. We encourage you to resist assimilation by the Borg, and prepare to assimilate some cheesecake. You'll be glad you did.



***

We had hard to describe fun working on this post, and after taking 157 photos we praised ourselves by a cup of tea with the cake, making of which (the cake) was a science experience by itself. 
Enjoy the movie, and come back tomorrow for the cake recipe! 


See you,
Marina

P.S. We are moving to Washington State.  I've been packing, packing, and don't see the end of things that needs to go in boxes. Container will be here next Friday. Teenager graduation in on Thursday. I also have several other events to attend. With all that said, my posts will be sporadic for the time being, until we move and settle somewhere. I also may not be visiting your lovely blogs as often as I'd like to.  But I think of you all often.