The Power of Soup

I am home today with a powerful cold and intense laryngitis.  My thoughts, quite logically turned to soup and digging through the vegetable drawer and pantry I found I had the ingredients to cook up the perfect soup for late fall, borschch  (the Russian word ends with the letter “щ” transliterated “shch,” not with a […]

Bean poles and pole beans

Beans have considerable significance in the cuisine of Zakarpattia.  One of my favorite dishes is terta fasol’ (mashed beans), made from dried kidney beans boiled and smashed with oil and large amounts of fresh chopped garlic , served as a spread with fresh bread.  The dish seems faintly out of place, more akin to Georgian […]


Tokano z bryndzju

  At a recent family gathering my relatives clamored for a traditional dish made from cornmeal, of which my father is the acknowledged master:  fried cornmeal mush.  Mush has a long tradition in American regional cooking, as well as in the cuisine of immigrants.  While my father’s family eats mush in a Yankee kind of […]

Vyshnivka update

Every year when the dark sweet cherries come in I think about vyshnivka, a delightfully rich, deceptively easy-to-drink flavored vodka made by soaking cherries in strong vodka (usually 140 proof)  for a couple of months, after which the alcohol is drained and reserved and sugar is added to the cherries, which sit some more.  The […]

In praise of sunflower seeds

As we move into summer I have been thinking about sunflower seeds and all the encounters I have had with them in Russia and Ukraine over the years, starting with toasting mounds of seeds in an old skillet suspended over a campfire in Siberia and watching everyone’s hands and lips turn black from splitting the […]