Friday, May 27, 2011


I was trying to add my new read (people, check out Natasha's Kitchen link on the left for some amazing Russian/Ukranian recipes, thanks, Vera :) and accidently erased the ENTIRE list!  I think I added most of the blogs I read. But, if you think I missed someone, please let me know.  Also, I would like to use this opportunity and do a call out for my sweet readers to suggest blogs that I am missing out on by having no idea they exist therefore not reading them!  PLEASE leave a comment with the blog name or/and address.  Thanks!

Off to the grocery store to buy a couple of things for Natasha's Napoleon Cake :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Today was the day.  I made madeleines.  The same cookie that sells for two bucks or so each at Starbucks and places alike.  Today I understood why these suckers cost so much and the ingredients is not why.  These babies are tricky and take a while like clarifying of brown butter which probably took about 30 minutes or so of close watch to make.  Then there is the madeleine cookie tray that cost me $30 which of coarse will pay itself in a long run, but my first batch sure turned out to be expensive.

A couple of things didn't go as planned.  First, the cookie tray.  The recipe said that I was supposed to butter it.  It should have probably said "butter it well but not too much because you don't want your cookies to be soaked in butter like SOMEONE's cookies turned out to be".  So yeah, my first batch came out stuck to the form and the second was a bit too buttery than I would have liked.    Neither result made me very happy.  Also, in my annoyance that the browning of the butter was taking so long, I folded the flour first and butter afterward which I assume also contributed to a less than perfect cookie.

Anyway, I am not giving up on these just yet.  They are too delicious and way too expensive to buy.  But here is the recipe that I got from Ana; hope yours turn out better than mine :)


Heat oven to 350. Butter the madeleine pan.

Clarify 3/4 c. butter in a small saucepan by heating over low heat until brown and nutty, then straining through a paper towel in a sieve. Throw out the solids, keep the liquid.

Beat together:
4 eggs
and a pinch of salt at a medium speed, until thick.
2/3 c. sugar a little at a time, beating at a high speed.

Fold in:
1 t. orange flower water (or orange zest)
1 t. vanilla
and the brown butter.
Then 3/4 c. sifted flour.
Don't stir past the folding in.

Fill each madeleine well almost to the top. Makes two pans.
Bake until golden brown, about 12 minutes.

*** I made another batch after watching this lady here.   Though she uses a different recipes, I followed most of her techniques and my cookies turned out to be so much better looking and tasting! 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Vegetarian Me?

So, off and on I throw around an idea of becoming a vegetarian.  It basically goes like this:  I think about it, then snack on a steak, then think about it some more, then boil up some pelmenie, and so on.  I wouldn't say that we consume a ton of meat, but then maybe we do and I just don't think about it as I savor my favorite meat dishes.  Becoming a vegetarian would be life changing for our family.  My husband is a big time carnivore who thinks that it is not dinner if it doesn't contain meat and who laughs when I mention to him that he might consider ordering a veggie burger next time he stops by at a burger place.  My youngest son takes my daughter's meat portion while she takes his pasta portion.  And Nicolas is cool with either and I usually eat every one's leftover veggies.  So it is no wonder why I would be the one to pioneer this venture.

I love vegetables, but when I look at the vegetarian recipes, I cannot help but think that the rest of the family will simply not eat most of it.  My kids don't eat all veggies so if I take meat out, they would have to complement by eating lots of carbs which alone are not super healthy especially if their color is white.  So, I will probably going to begin this journey on my own. I will most likely not able to quit cold turkey so it would have be a gradual process. 

Maybe some of you who had us for dinner or whom we treated with a fine a shish kabob are picking up your jaws from the floor.  I know that vegetarian lifestyle is not very well understood nor supported by the Russian community here.  In fact, I only know one person, a girl I went to high school with, who is a vegetarian and I know many Russians.    But there are several reasons why I want to try it out:

1)   It is now common knowledge that a diet high in fruits and vegetables helps prevent many diseases.

2) We can't afford organic meat therefore we usually consume meat from cows/poultry that have been fed hormones and/or antibiotics and other things to make them grow faster.  And this, cannot be a good thing.

3) This idea of switching has been circulating around me for a while and is being recycled through interactions with different people, statistics, testimonies, thoughts about cancer...

I know that completely giving up meat will result only if a complete mind change occurs.  I don't want to make vegetarianism a religion though.   So I will try it out, but in all honesty, I don't know how long I will last.  I am leaning towards being a selective vegetarian, but selective could be so broad!   I will sure to keep you posted.  In the mean time, I welcome your comments.  Have you tried it? How did you do?  How did your family do?   

Thursday, May 19, 2011

How Am I Doing?

In an effort to save up some money for our big upcoming trip, I have decided to get my act together and start menu planning.   So, I've done it now for three weeks mostly planning for dinners and some lunches on the days that I am home.   I like that when I go to a grocery store, I have a purpose and that purpose is not to buy all that looks good to my empty stomach, but that which I plan on stretching for an entire week or two.  But what I like the most is trying out new recipes that come from some of the blogs I follow and  Like today's lunch:
Looks simple enough, right?  That's the idea.  Heavens knows, once sun decides to stick around for a little longer than a day in this rainy part of the world, we will use every opportunity to soak it in and that means spending as little time indoors as possible where my stove is located.

 The hamburger mac and cheese recipe came from Laura.   I like that it is uses all real ingredients and that my whole wheat pasta (which I am learning to like) does not actually taste like whole wheat.  The taco seasoning, pasta and ground beef I got from Trader Joe's which while does not promise every product to be organic stays away from artificial flavors and such. 

So, I have not yet perfected this menu planning thing.  I change some meals around and I sometimes postpone and other times hurry along our pizza/Burgerville day.   But, I love that its helping me stay within our food budget and that means less  mean notification emails from Mint. 

Now, if I can get every member of my lovely family to be as excited about every meal I prepare as I am.  Because after all the work that goes into putting a meal on the table, I have little patience for this:


Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Its 69 degrees at 7pm in Portland right now.  Better yet, it is supposed to be a little over 70 tomorrow and I am off from work.  Though a bit chilly in the shade, it is still nice to be seating on the deck watching both the sunset and my kids playing on the playground as they soak up the last of sun rays (though indirect) and inhale fresh air.   These past couple of days I have been thinking a lot about savoring.  Though so clicheish, this living in the moment, in the present, right now more specifically the lack of has been convicting me.  Maybe its the fact that my second baby is to begin kindergarten next year or maybe its the that school and work have taken up so much time away from them.  Or maybe its trying to balance putting healthy, frugal meals on the table and keeping my house looking decent while at the same time leaving enough time for floor play.   Like yesterday, when I spent two hours trying to figure out which coupons I need and how to print the ones I finally chose only to then cancel our Target trip all together because it was too late to go.

Or maybe it is because only yesterday that I ran across this quote while substituting for a colleague and it resonated with me:

"Time -- when pursued like a bandit -- will behave like one; always remaining one country or one room ahead of you, changing its name and hair color to elude you, slipping out the back door of the motel just as you're banging through the lobby with your newest search warrant, leaving only a burning cigarette in the ashtray to taunt you." 
— Elizabeth Gilbert 

Or maybe its the fact that I am starting to think about getting a full time job in two years when my baby enters Kindergarten.  The idea of a decent (finally!) paycheck is attracting and yet coming home exhausted every day is not.  The truth is, I have a good life right now.  I get to enjoy time away from home doing a job I am passionate about and spending most days of the week at home with my kids, cracking up at their utterances, watching them grow and change, and providing for them in various ways.  I think that if the time comes when most of my time will be spent outside of home, teaching someone else's children (wow, that sounds kind of wrong), I will no doubt refer to this time now as "the good ol' days" of sushi and scone making.  A time when mornings could occasionally be lazy and laundry got done after everything else that is more exciting got done.

I might just look back and regret being more of an observer of their games than a participant.  Maybe I will regret not making time for many girl dates with my daughter or taking them to grandma's and grandpa's too often.  I will probably regret not making a baby book for each of them and having no record of their first words and milestones.

There are however, lots of things I'll be glad I did.  I'll be glad my kids were read to every night and taken to the library several times a month to choose new books and that TV was limited to mostly family movie nights.  I'll be glad we got our money's worth of memberships to OMSI, The Children Museum, and the Zoo.  I will certain not regret filling up that punch card from JJJUMP and EPCC Indoor Park oh, and Dutch  Bros ;).  I hope my kids will remember how much fun they had at Precision Elite Gymnastics, Kid Club Fun and Fitness, the Splash Pad, swimming pools and kid classes.

I'll also be glad I was around to see them take their first steps and crack their first joke.  I know that it will serve them well for rarely seeing my husband and me argue and fight though I could have certainly used a bit more refraining from yelling at them.

So, I am going to end this post, close my laptop, plug my iPhone in to charge upstairs and do just that, savor this moment that I have been granted to me and maybe even required? by no other than but my Father in heaven.  I will then put them to bed and crash with a book--an act I need to savor more than keeping up with the FB updates.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Better Way to Shop?

So I was at Safeway the other day, running in for a quick stop to pick up a couple of items.  The quick stop turned into a half an hour wait while the lady in front of me was checking out her items.  This lady was nice enough to offer me to go ahead in front of her while she fidgeted with a handful of coupons.  I had to run to get eggs so I politely declined.  I lately regretted this move.  To make a long story short, the scanning and figuring out which of her coupons actually worked for the stuff she chose took FOREVER.  She didn't seem to mind one bit the line that was getting bigger with every minute.  In my annoyance I almost didn't notice that her total bill came to $38 and that she saved $56.  Almost.  I looked at my small basket that came to over forty dollars and half of her cart that came to thirty eight and I thought, wow.  That's pretty good. 

I might have tried couponing in the past, but I do not ever remember being organized enough to have the right coupon when I need it or to consistently save any substantial sum.  And I don't want to buy things just because I can get them for a good deal.  I have a couple of things rotting in my pantry shelf that were bought that way already. 

But today I discovered this place.  It has a million deals and I bet I can find a coupon or two for my upcoming trip to Target.   And maybe if I am successful at it I would never have to shop at Winco ever again can save money on quality whole foods that are currently costing me an arm and a leg.   But, if I am going to take up that lifestyle, I need some tips from some of you who have been successful at consistently using coupons.  How do you people do it?  And what about couponing with class--is that even possible? 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sour Cream Raisin Cookies

I apologize to everyone who has been been my blog only to see that not much has been written here in the past few months.   I think part of the reason for my slacking is my getting a smart phone.  Being constantly plugged in is actually taking a lot of my time while at the same time often coming in handy when I need to get that map or check that important email.  And then there is Facebook.   After a couple years of resisting, I finally gave in.  I don't know, but I am considering eventually weaning my self off of it.  I have a love hate relationship with it.   I love to be able to connect, but have a hard time finding a balance between sharing information and bragging about stuff.

Anyway, I want to get back to blogging.  It is my only way to remember life.  Something happened to my memory after birthing three munchkins.  I need to WRITE to remember everything now.  So, I will write this recipe for these awesome cookies that I made today.  My husband looooves raisins but is not too crazy about oatmeal raisin and is tired of chocolate chip cookies, if you can believe it.  So, I wanted something soft like chocolate chip but lighter and fluffier than oatmeal raisin.  So I found this recipe here, followed it per letter and they turned out delicious!

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. In a large bowl, beat the butter, 1 1/2 cups sugar, eggs, and vanilla until fluffy.
  2. Sift flour with baking powder, baking soda and salt. At low speed, beat sour cream into the egg mixture, gradually beat in the flour until well mixed. Add raisins and mix by hand. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease baking sheets.
  4. Mix the 1/2 cup white sugar with the ground cinnamon.
  5. Drop spoonfuls of dough 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle cookies with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Let me know how it turns out if you make it with whole wheat flour.  Hope you enjoy these as much as we did!

P.S.  I am turning off private setting per my sister's request who hates to sign in all the time :)