Gifts From My Kitchen – Pickled Cherries

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.


“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.

Pickled Cherries

From While Chasing Kids | Condiments and Sauces | American

This is a perfect gift from your kitchen, which would be an excellent addition to many savory hot dishes


cal Calories 328kcal

Low fat Total Fat 1g

sat-fat Free Saturated Fat 0g

chol Free Cholesterol 0mg

Low sodium Sodium 7mg

High carbs Total Carbohydrate 79g

Serving size 401g Calories from fat 5kcal Fiber 4g Protein 2g Sugar 72g
4 servings


  • 1.5 lbs fresh dark cherries
  • 3 stems fresh rosemary
  • 2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbl allspice
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 2 fresh bay leaves


  1. 1.Sterilize the jars.
  2. 2.Wash the cherries and pat dry. Snip the stem ends leaving ¾ inch intact. Prick each cherry in several places with a toothpick. Fill the jars with cherries.
  3. 3.Divide rosemary between the jars.
  4. 4.Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, allspice, anise and bay leaves in a medium sized saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Boil the liquid for 1 min and remove from heat.
  5. 5.Fill the jars with hot pickling liquid leaving ½ inch headspace. Seal with lids. Cool at the room temperature before transferring to the refrigerator for at least 2 weeks

For free canning labels and gift notes go here.

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Things To Do With Kids – Traveling

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.



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!


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!



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


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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Cream Of Asparagus

The stuff my husband brings from farmers markets nowadays makes me want to shake the winter hibernation off with some fresh healthy recipes.  I know, right? What’s happening to me?!  Well, I guess all the things green and juicy and flavorful, and not kale are quite inspiring. Plus they are reminding that there is a slight (very slight, but…) chance of sunny days on the horizon, and low possibly (but still a possibility!!!) of a t-shirt-kind of day, and that perhaps we should get into a t-shirt appropriate shape!

Here is something healthy and delicious to celebrate the spring!



Vegan Cream Of Asparagus

From While Chasing Kids | Soups | American

This soup is so creamy and smooth you would never guess it’s vegan!
Serves: 6


cal Calories 245kcal

Low fat Total Fat 8g

Low sat-fat Saturated Fat 1g

chol Free Cholesterol 0mg

High sodium Sodium 1030mg

carbs Total Carbohydrate 39g

Serving size 419g Calories from fat 72kcal Fiber 8g Protein 9g Sugar 14g
6 servings


  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 bunches fresh asparagus, chopped
  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped
  • ½ bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 steam fresh rosemary
  • 6 cups lowsodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted


  1. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven and sauté cumin seeds for about 3 minutes till fragrant. Add garlic and onion, sauté, until onion is golden yellow. Add asparagus and sauté for another 5 minutes.
  2. Add cauliflower, cilantro, chopped rosemary leaves, and vegetable broth. Bring to boil and cook on medium low heat for about 25 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
  3. Pure soup in a blender. Pour the pure back into the Dutch oven and add lemon juice, salt and pepper, bring to boil and take off the heat.
  4. Serve hot; garnish with a few drops of vinegar and pine nuts.


  • Add cumin seeds for a slightly nutty flavor.

If you liked this recipe you may enjoy:

Russian Friday – Vanilla Paskha

We, Russians, like to take our time with everything (I can see my husband nodding here). This year it includes Easter celebrations.  Russian Orthodox Easter is on the 5th of May. Naturally, I’m taking my time to publish this traditional recipe. Last year I was a bit unprepared, and paskha didn’t look anything like it supposed to; but I’m well equipped now.  If you like cheesecake kind of substances, here is a delicious no-bake dessert!


Vanilla Paskha

From While Chasing Kids | Desserts | Russian

Another traditional Russian Easter dish, a symbol of joy and blissful eternity.


cal Calories 138kcal

fat Total Fat 7g

sat fat Saturated Fat 4g

chol Cholesterol 21mg

sodium Sodium 242mg

carbs Total Carbohydrate 13g

Serving size 43g Calories from fat 63kcal Fiber 0g Protein 6g Sugar 11g
20 servings


  • 300 g low-fat farmers cheese
  • 300 g low-fat sour cream
  • 150 g sugar
  • 100 g raisins
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste


  1. Mash fresh dry farmers cheese through a strainer. Add sour cream and mix to incorporate. Fold a cheese cloth 2-3 times and place the farmers cheese mixture in the center. Make a bundle and tie it above the sink or a deep dish for 12 hours.
  2. After the whey is strained, add the remaining ingredients. Mix to incorporate.
  3. Line the paskha mold with a thin layer of fresh cheese cloth. Fill it in with the farmers cheese mixture. Press a weight on top of the mold and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
  4. Carefully remove the mold and peel off the cheese cloth. Garnish with fresh berries, raisins, chocolate or caramel. Traditionally a candle would be placed on top of paskha.


  • To add some zing to the flavor, soak raisins in rum for about 30 minutes. Drain before adding the raisins to paskha.


Христос Воскресе!


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Skinny Parade – Spicy Chocolate Fudge Brownies

“My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes,” I thought today, looking at the scale.  The quote, of course, is from my favorite “Anne Of Green Gables”.  The feelings are genuinely mine. I am certain, my love for desserts and baking has absolutely nothing to do with them…

So, today, purely to prove I’m not in denial, we are trying something new, and hope you will jump on board! I suggest we make a parade of skinny desserts.  If you want to participate – the rules are very simple:

  • Make a dessert under 200 calories per serving;
  • Post the recipe and photos in your blog with a link to this entry;
  • Leave a comment here, letting me know you are in.

Next week on Thursday, I will show off your photos with respective links in one blog post.


And for now, I hope you enjoy my skinny creation.

Cinnamon-Fudge-Walnut Brownies

From While Chasing Kids | Desserts | American

This fudge reminds me of Mexican hot chocolate because of its cinnamon flavor; and the nuts and melted chocolate chunks make it irresistible


cal Calories 170kcal

fat Total Fat 8g

sat fat Saturated Fat 4g

chol Cholesterol 26mg

sodium Sodium 76mg

carbs Total Carbohydrate 25g

Serving size 46g Calories from fat 72kcal Fiber 2g Protein 3g Sugar 18g
20 servings


  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup fatfree milk
  • 5 tbs butter, melted
  • 1 tbs cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 350⁰F (175⁰C). Coat a 9-inch square metal baking pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Place flour, sugars, cocoa, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Spread walnuts over ungreased rimmed baking sheet and roast them in the preheated oven for about 7 minutes.
  4. Place milk and ½ cup of chocolate in a small sauce pan. Cook on low heat, stirring until the chocolate melts (about 3 minutes). Set aside. Lightly beat the eggs. Stir in eggs and melted butter with the milk mixture. Pour the milk mixture to the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir to incorporate. Mix in the remaining ¼ cup of chocolate chunks and walnuts.
  5. Bake at 350⁰F (175⁰C) for about 27 minutes or until a wooden toothpick, inserted in the center, comes out with moist crumbs attached to it. Cool on in a pan on a wire rack.



Russian Friday – Poppy Seed Roll

Once again, we took a short vacation, and this mom’s separation from her kitchen resulted in a serious baking outburst. So, my New Year’s resolutions have been successfully shipped to the carb heaven, where they will probably remain sugar-high-and-all for the next 10 months.


On a brighter note, this blog has reached 100,000 hits; which, I think, is worth a celebration!  So, Russian Friday it is – carbohydrates galore! 

Print this recipe




  • 1.5 cup milk, lukewarm
  • 2 tsp active dry east
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 160 g unbleached all-purpose flour


  • 2 eggs
  • 1cup sugar
  • 50 g butter, melted and cooled to the room temperature
  • 600 g unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 (9 g) bag  vanilla sugar
  • ½ tsp salt



  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tbs water

Yields: 2 rolls


Make poolish: whisk 2 cups of flour with milk and sugar with yeast, cover and let raise for about 1 – 1,5 hours.  The poolish is ready after it reaches its peak height and drops.

Mix the dough: whisk eggs, sugar, salt, and butter together till everything is dissolved.  Add the mixture to the poolish.  Slowly add sifted flour.  Mix to incorporate all the ingredients.  Place the dough on a floured surface and knead (adding flour, if needed) till the dough stops sticking to your hands – for about 10 minutes.

Place into an lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rest for another hour.

Make the filling: mix sugar with poppy seeds , cover with milk and bring to boil.  Simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Blend in a food processor. Let cool down before spreading.


Make the rolls: divide the dough in to 2 halves. Working with each half separately, roll the dough into a 14 x 21 inch ((35 x 52 cm) rectangle about 0.2 inch (4-5 mm) thick. Spread half of the filling over the dough, leaving 1/2 inch (1.5 cm) edge.  Roll the dough into a cylinder, place it the seam side down on a baking sheet, covered with parchment paper   Make a wheel out of it, carefully pressing the edges together. Cover with a towel and let rest for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile preheat the oven to 375⁰F/190⁰C, position the rack in the middle.

Prepare the wash: whisk the yolks with water.

Score the rolls, cutting the outer edges through.  The cut should be about 2/3 rd-s of the width of the cylinder.  Repeat the cuts every inch (3 cm), and slightly twist the edges facing them up. Brush the top of the roll with the wash and place in the oven.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden-brown. Let cool on a wire rack before serving.

Repeat with the remaining dough.


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