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I was giving a ride to my 4 year old son and a couple of 11 year-olds to their zoo camp. The older kids and I were discussing jobs for teenagers. Zoo teacher’s assistant seemed liked a cool option.

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“Much better than working at a McDonalds,” I voiced my opinion.

“No, mommy!” said my son, laughing at me, like I said something very silly, “I love McDonalds!”

“Do you? Have you ever been to McDonalds?” I asked ready to have a serious talk with my husband…

“Of course, mommy,” and he started singing, “Old McDonald had a farm EE-I-EE-I-O!”2013_May_CherryFarm-18

 

We have taken the kids to a farm. A cherry orchard, to be exact. Here is what came out of it.

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For free canning labels and gift notes go here.

Special tools:

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Last month my children landed in Moscow wearing a perfect shade of San Francisco Pale on their skins. These city kids were raised where outside requires constant adult supervision, they had only minor encounters with nice weather, and were yet to experience a water or electricity outage.

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In 3 weeks they were completely transformed into tan Russian-speaking sun-loving kids who had a bite of freedom and lots of bites of freshly grown produce right outside of their great- grandmother’s house!

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Their only swimming experience up till now was in a heated pool. I don’t quite get it, but apparently swimming in a river with cousins, fish, ducks and frogs is much more fun!

 

Grandma’s garden was an endless source of entertainment and nourishment. Apples, cherries, currant, strawberries – and that’s just the begging of the list. The kids had a blast playing in all this lusciousness!

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They even found it cool to be washed outside with water heated up by sun.

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Though, you should have seen my son’s excitement when he got back home and went to the bathroom: “Есть вода!” (The water is on)! Hmmmm….

 

Here are some Instagram favorites from the trip. Enjoy!

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Plum Pie

 

This report has been brought to you from a special place where we had no internet, only 2 and a half TV channels, intermediate phone service, and issues with water pressure… Yet, the 3 weeks we spent there are beating all the awesomeness charts!  In June I gulped a can of courage pills, loaded my 4 and 2 year-olds on an airplane, waved bye bye to the husband, and took the kids on a 30-something hour trip to my homeland!

So, here are some shots and recipes from our visit to Russia, where my children were running in my grandmother’s garden, in the house where my mother was born, where I spent so many happy days, and where you don’t need special photo props to give recipes a hint of old country.

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Plum Pie Filling

From While Chasing Kids | Desserts | American

I used the flaky dough from the previous post and filled it up with fresh plums to make this delicious pie. We served it cold with ice cream and I barely had a minute to take a few shots before it disappeared!

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Low cal Calories 47kcal

Low fat Total Fat 1g

sat-fat Free Saturated Fat 0g

Low chol Cholesterol 12mg

Low sodium Sodium 41mg

Low carbs Total Carbohydrate 10g

Serving size 81g Calories from fat 5kcal Fiber 1g Protein 1g Sugar 7g
16 servings

Ingredients

  • Filling
  • 2 ½ pounds plums, washed, pitted and quartered
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar plus more for sprinkling
  • Zest of one orange
  • Juice of ½ orange
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Egg wash
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp water

Directions

  1. Prepare the dough as directed in the Flaky Pie Dough recipe up to step 5. Roll the refrigerated disks on a floured service one at a time to 1/8 inch thickness. Fill the pie dish with the first disk and refrigerate (without cutting the edges). Roll the second disk, place it on a floured baking pan, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
  2. Make the filling: wash, pit, and quarter the plums. Mix them up with the remaining ingredients. Fill the pie with the plums and refrigerate while working with the second disk.
  3. Cut the disk into at least 15 ½-inch-wide strips using a fluted pastry cutter or a sharp knife.
  4. Lay 8 strips across pie. Lay lattice pattern on top of the pie. Press together the edges of the pie with a fork and trip the crusts to a 1-inch overhang. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190° C).
  6. Make egg wash: beat up the egg with water.
  7. Brush crust with egg wash, and sprinkle with sugar. Bake pie on middle rack, with a foil-lined baking sheet on bottom rack to catch juices for about 1 ½ hours. The mixture inside should be bubbling in center when the pie is done. Loosely tent with foil after 1 hour if the edges start browning too soon. Transfer pie to a wire rack and let cool for 2 hours before serving.

Tips

  • Keep the dough refrigerated between the recipe steps to get the flakiest crust

 

 

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My son met my babushka, godmother, and two aunts. All these ladies were introduced to him as babas. One evening I asked him, “Who do you love?”

“Mommy, daddy, Pea, baba… [silence] … baba …. Baba…. Baba… baba…. Baba…. “

 

 

 

Flaky Pie Dough

Hello from CA (and I mean Carboholics Anonymous, not the state)! I must admit, this Russian mom fell off the wagon again with a crazy week-long baking spree. Why? Because she finally nailed the perfect pie crust recipe. I know, disastrous  right?!   

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To top that, it’s rhubarb season in CA (the state). So, I think you can guess what I’ve been up to! There is a rhubarb pie bubbling in the oven right now… ohm… my 3rd this week. 

The rhubarb pie recipe (my new favorite, can’t you tell!?) is to follow in a later post (once my hands stop shaking from all that sugar, and I take some photos). Here is everything on how to make the flaky pie dough I’m so much in love with!

 

Flaky Pie Dough

From While Chasing Kids | Desserts | American

This doesn’t just make a fabulous crust; it also is very easy to remember. The flour to butter to water ratio is 3 to 2 to 1. Add a quarter of a teaspoon of salt for each 100 grams of flour and you got yourself The Perfect Dough! This recipe yields two 9 inch pie shells.

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cal Calories 158kcal

fat Total Fat 10g

High sat-fat Saturated Fat 6g

chol Cholesterol 27mg

sodium Sodium 199mg

carbs Total Carbohydrate 14g

Serving size 32g Calories from fat 90kcal Fiber 1g Protein 2g Sugar 0g
16 servings

Ingredients

  • 300 g all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 200 g butter
  • 100 mg water

Directions

  1. Measure water, dissolve salt in it, and place it in the fridge
  2. Cut butter into pea-sized cubes and place in the freezer for at least 20 minutes.
  3. To make the dough combine cold butter and flour and pulse briefly until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  4. Slowly add cold water and pulse again for several seconds until the dough begins to come together in a ball but not completely smooth. There still will be butter chunks. If needed, finish kneading with your hands until the dough forms into a ball (try to handle the dough as little as possible).
  5. Separate the dough into disks, 1-inch thick. Wrap them in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  6. Roll disks on floured surface one at a time to 1/8 inch thick. Carefully line the baking dish with the dough, overlapping about ½ inch (the dough will shrink during baking)
  7. For recipes that call for uncooked shell, refrigerate until ready to use.
  8. For baked shells, preheat oven to 375⁰F/190⁰C. Line the shells with parchment paper and fill with pie weights (I use dry beans). For partially baked shells, bake for about 20 minutes, remove weights. Carefully poke with a fork the dough if it bubbled during the baking. Bake for another couple more minutes. For a fully baked shell, bake for about 25 minutes till light brown. Remove the weights, poke the dough, and bake for another 5 minutes till the dough is golden brown.
  9. Let the shells cool completely on wire racks before filling.

Tips

  • The dough could be made a day in advance and refrigerated. Cooked shells will keep for up to a week in the fridge, or for up to two weeks in the freezer.

When I was a kid each serving of buckwheat was paired with a motivational speech from my parents: “Tolstoy ate this every day, and he lived to be 100 years old!” What they were probably thinking was “Tolstoy ate this every day, and he lived to write ‘War and Peace’!”

Well, I don’t know about 100 years old or even 82 (which is more accurate); but their aspirations came true! Look at me! I’m a blogger who writes in simple English with a heavy Russian accent about once a month, and 200 people liked me on Facebook! Tolstoy in the making!Buckwheat_Breakfast_WM-6

So, parents, tell your children, that there is this Russian mom, who ate buckwheat.. Wait, actually, I’d stick with the Tolstoy story, because this grain is really good for them, and “War and Peace” is one of the best books ever written!

Russian Friday – Buckwheat Breakfast

From While Chasing Kids | Breakfast and Brunch | Russian

This is an excellent make-ahead breakfast. Start it in a rice maker before you go to bed, or refrigerate freshly cooked buckwheat in an air-tight container. All you need to do is spoon some in a bowl and pour milk over it in the morning.

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Low cal Calories 97kcal

Low fat Total Fat 1g

sat-fat Free Saturated Fat 0g

chol Free Cholesterol 0mg

sodium Sodium 197mg

carbs Total Carbohydrate 20g

Serving size 108g Calories from fat 9kcal Fiber 3g Protein 4g Sugar 0g
6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup buckwheat, uncooked
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions

  1. Pick and rinse buckwheat. Place all ingredients in a rice maker and cook on a white rice setting.

Tips

  • Serve with cold or warm milk for breakfast

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 If you liked this recipe, you may enjoy:

It surely wasn’t San Francisco weather, it was the calendar, that reminded me of all the amazing months we spent at babushka’s every year: playing in her beautiful garden; eating cherries, apples, and pears fresh off the trees; picking the sweetest strawberries EVER… and slaving, slaving, slaving in the vegetable garden.

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Ohm.. Our hose was useless since the water pressure was so low. We filled huge buckets with water over night, and irrigated the whole plantation manually. And if that was not enough – there were also disgusting tasks – like picking up bugs from the potato leaves, or tortures tasks like pruning. So, you can imagine my love for growing all things green – there isn’t any!

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Once in a while I would buy a huge plant at The Home Depot and put the black plastic container it comes with into a nice ceramic one.That’s been my idea of gardening for years.

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During my mom’s visits here, such plants would be watered on regular basis and somewhat loved (by mom). Then she would leave. The plant would survive (miraculously or because of whatever drugs The Home Depot stuffs it with) for a few months, and then I’d have to replace it with a new one.

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The food blogging community touched some strings in me, that I thought didn’t exist. So, this year, the kids and I planted some herbs and flowers.  This time, I controlled the amount of stuff we are going to grow (or kill).

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Luckily, our San Francisco yards are tiny. Strangely enough, the kids love to water the new greens. Don’t ask me why. Silly things! They also keep looking for pixie dust, and leave cookies and milk for ferries before going to bed. Sorry, Santa.

 

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