The Cookbook Project

April 16, 2010 § 6 Comments

Hello, Gentle Reader!

I’ve got a special announcement. To counteract the early onset of a midlife crisis, also known as a cooped-up housewife syndrome, I decided that my goal for the future is to turn this blog (or parts of it, anyway) into a cookbook someday – perhaps a hundred years or so from now. I imagine a sort of a Russian-American-Azerbaijani fusion cookbook, with step-by-step pictures, lovely illustrations by an artistically gifted family member, and anecdotes about my cultural transition. It will be a celebration of bright colors and flavors, of sorts, with an emphasis on seasonal, organic, sustainably raised, local, and homegrown foods. Except when it comes to ketchup. And sweetened condensed milk.

(Note that I am aware that I am yet to improve my photographic and photo-editing skills. I’m working on it. Yes.)

But this is not the job I can do without you! You, my Precious Reader, are instrumental to this young site, with your encouragement, support, and, especially, your  feedback. That’s why I ask you that if you do try any of the recipes, please take a moment of your precious time and let me know if they turned out or didn’t, what went wrong, how it could be corrected, if something was unclear or misleading, and so forth. Especially if things don’t turn out! Your feedback is what I live for. And thank you, everyone, who’s already commented on/evaluated the recipes in the past!

To that end, consider trying the following recipes that I would like to include:

Shashlyk Burritos, a.k.a. Lyulja-Kebab

Ayran: A Yogurt Drink

Venison-Blue Cheese Stroganoff

Say-No-To-Bologna Russian “Olivier” Salad

Cream of Potato and Mushroom Soup

Rassolnik: A Russian Pickle Soup

Pasty Pie with Sharon Smith’s crust (the crust recipe is from Sharon Smith, Jacob’s aunt who is originally from the UP but spent most of her life down South. It’s been generously shared with me by Jacob’s cousin Robyn. Thank you Robyn, this recipe changed my life!)

Puff Pastry Pasties

Marinara Meatballs

Homemade Yogurt-Based Ranch-Style Dressing

Pierozhki: Russian Meat Pockets

Oladiyi: Russian Yogurt Pancakes

Skillet-Roasted Potatoes

My Mother’s Tefteli: Russian Meatballs

Russian Pelmeni

Jacob’s Egg-and-Potato Breakfast

Garlic Vinaigrette

Spaghetti Bolognese

Maple Snow Taffy

Pot-Roast

Azerbaijani Hingal

Toast Pizza

Dovga: An Azeri Yogurt-Herb Cream Soup

Russian Pan-Fried Potatoes, a timeless classic

Pasties with Sharon Smith’s Crust

Swiss Steak

Blue Cheese, Garlic, and Parsley Butter

Azerbaijani Tea

The Omelet of Many Colors

Ramp and Nettle Green Borscht

I will continue to add as many not-published-in-other-cookbooks recipes as possible.

Try them, and tell me what you think!

Once again, thanks for coming here and reading about my culinary adventures and the exact amounts of animal manure that pass through my washer on a weekly basis! You make me feel special, manure notwithstanding. Which is especially important when I don’t get as much from my immediate surrounding. Which brings me to the following point – blogging is better than marriage therapy! Not that we need any therapy. But you see what I mean.

Much love,

Sofya, a Sarah-Palin-meets-Julia-Child-Azerbaijani-Jewish-American-farmwife-mom.

P.S.: I guess there’s always the question of whether the world needs another cookbook, memoir, novel, or any other artistic endeavor. But there’s one thing I know for sure: There’s always room in the bookstore.

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§ 6 Responses to The Cookbook Project

  • Tatyana says:

    Sofya,

    As you can guess from my name, I too, am a Russian emigre (and Jewish). I’ve been in the US for over 30 years, having come here as a 9 yr-old. We were on the tail-end of the 1970’s emigration, when a Soviet emigre was still something of a novelty and not as commonplace as now. What I’m leading up to is that I assimilated to the point of not wanting to cook anything remotely Russian by the time I finished college and moved out on my own.

    Twelve years after that, after firmly establishing my preference for Tex-Mex, Thai, Indian, and Vietnamese foods, I married a much more recent Russian emigre, with the less adventurous, bland palate more typical of Western Russians. He’s not interested in Tex-Mex, or Thai, or Indian, or Vietnamese for dinner. He wants kotleti, beef stew, and salad whose ingredients are limited to sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, and sour cream.

    So, we compromise. We very rarely eat out (or take out) for both financial and health reasons, and for the same reasons, I cook from scratch. I keep the “exotic” food relegated to the lunches I take to work, and he looks the other way when there are navy beans in his borcht or chutney mixed in to the turkey kotleti. I think he’s actually getting to like the beans.

    Anyway, turns out he does enjoy Azerbaijani cuisine, as long as it’s not too spicy, so I have a number of your recipes bookmarked for future dinners.

    I LOVE the way you illustrate your recipes step by step. I no longer consider myself an amateur cook, and I’m a PhD chemist as well who’s spent a number of years in the lab “cooking”, but I am also a busy mom who usually doesn’t have the time to sit and visualize a recipe from detailed descriptions. Your presentation of the recipes makes them easy to interpret.

    I’ve made your yogurt oladi to rave reviews and these are quickly becoming a Sunday staple. The pirozhki, Feb 23 post, were not as big a hit, in part because of what I chose for filling – had to do SOMETHING with all that leftover Passover brisket – and in part because hubby’s hung up on some potato-dough version he used to get in Minsk. I also remember the pirozhki from my childhood having more of a deep-fried doughnut-dough aspect, but I don’t like the idea of deep-fried food.

    I intend to make your recipe again, because it was so simple, but probably will use a fruit filling this time.

    In addition to the food, I enjoy reading about the self-sufficiency of your farm life. There are certain life skills that everyone should have and being able to care for and feed oneself off the land is one of them, especially the way the world is going. I don’t have land on which to plant or raise chickens – just a postage-stamp size back patio for container gardening. This year will be my 3rd attempt at growing vegetables, and although the first 2 had mixed results – good one year, not so good the next – I intend to teach myself and my kids the importance of- and how to- grow our own.

    Good luck with the cookbook. Based on what you’ve laid out in your post, it’ll be fantastic, and I can’t wait to own it.

    • Sofya says:

      Thank you so much for the detailed feedback and encouragement! I think I am more with your husband – I am not big on spicy or South-East Asian and Indian (and even many Mexican) things, and I too have a hard time with beans! In fact, I know that my husband would love it if I used them more, but I only use them in chili.

      I agree that the pirozhki dough here is kinda different – although it’s hard for me to remember anymore! It’s been a long time for me too. I do know that Jacob (my husband) really likes this sour-cream based crust/dough, but there are many wonderful yeasted kinds that people made back home and that I haven’t learned how to make yet. In retrospect, I can see how people would find mine somewhat on the drier/crumblier side. I also really need to figure out how to shape them more elegantly. I know mine are kinda rough.

      Anyhow, thanks so much for taking time to comment!

  • Liz says:

    Do you want us to post feedback on the individual recipes or here? I don’t know if the website notifies you if you get a comment on something you posted long ago, but it definitely takes me a while to get around to cooking all the things I mean to cook from this website.

    For the moment, I’ll say I’m thinking about writing the garlic vinaigrette recipe out and taping it to the fridge until I have it memorized – it’s AWESOME. I had it tonight on a salad with beets, walnuts and feta and it was perfect. A much-needed incentive to eat some fresh veggies…

    • Sofya says:

      Hi Liz,

      Yes, I can see all the comments, no matter when the post was written. So I would say add the comments to the post where you got the recipe, or just email me, if you like. Or send a facebook message. Or email Jacob. It doesn’t matter how it gets to me.

      Thanks again for reading!

  • Rhonda says:

    Hello Sofya!
    I have made your Venison Blue cheese Stroganoff . We love it! My husband asked me to make this more often like once a week!

    I have made the Oliver salad too. MY husband loves it! He took it to work everyday. He also asked me to make this more often too.

    I enjoy your blog so much!
    Thank-you for all your hard work in making this excellent blog!

    Blessings,
    Rhonda

  • Sofya says:

    Thank you, Rhonda! I am so thrilled that it worked for you! Thanks so much for taking time and getting back to me!

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