Saturday, June 19, 2010

In the kitchen

So, I've been hit with the nesting bug big time, but as most of our stuff is still somewhere on the ocean, I can't sew, or knit anything other than lace (since that's the only yarn I brought on the plane).  Although what I would really like to be doing is sewing baby wipes and burp cloths, I have thrown my domestic energy into culinary endeavors.  Strawberries are really tasty and not too expensive this time of year, so Natasha and I have been riding the metro one stop to the Dorogomilovsky Rinok (rinok=market in Russian) and buying large quantities of them.  The fruit goes bad if you look at it funny, which means that after I've lugged four or five kilos of fruit home, I have to process it immediately.  I wish I had the know-how or equipment for canning (something to think about next summer).  Since I don't, I just freeze all the fruit that isn't bruised or rotting, and make something with the rest.  So far, we've had strawberry turnovers (which I think I've finally figured out) and this disastrous strawberry pie:

This was my entry in the Embassy bake-off yesterday.  I took a few liberties with the recipe - I didn't want to add gelatin, and I didn't have cornstarch, so I figured I'd just toss some flour in and call it good.  I was so excited to make it pretty - I even cut out little leaves from scrap dough and pasted them on the top crust.  I was devastated when it came out of the oven looking like this:

Little did I know that this was only the start of pie-related problems.

The bake-off was held on the green on the upper portion of the compound.  We live on the lower portion.  So I put Natasha into the stroller and loaded the pie into the stroller basket (yes, I should have known that this was a bad idea).  By the time we made it up the ramp and onto the green, strawberry juice had sloshed out of the pie and all over the stroller basket.  It was such a large spill that I had to hose the stroller down at the community garden.

And then it was time for the judging.  After they'd cut into the pies (I should note here that mine was one of only two entered in this category), I was dismayed to see that the cut-out where pie had formerly been, had filled up with strawberry juice.  Needless to say, I was awarded an "honorable mention," while my competitor's non-sloshy apple pie took the blue ribbon.  I guess the pie tasted ok, though, because there was only a tiny piece left when I went back later to retrieve the pie plate.

I've learned my lesson, though, and this morning when I went to the grocery store, I looked for corn starch.  They only had potato starch.  Which I'm going to use in today's cherry pie instead.  Hope it works ...

In other, more successful news, I've also been making pasta sauce out of fresh tomatoes for freezing.  I usually don't have an issue using canned tomatoes, but we go through a LOT, and I haven't been able to find reasonably priced canned tomatoes in the stores yet.   So every week or so, I turn this:

into this:


  1. What do you put in with your tomato sauce? Anything in particular? Do you just boil and then puree?

  2. Most of them are just tomatoes, garlic and basil or oregano. The latest batch had some pork fat and red wine, too. I figure I can add meat and cheese when I defrost.

  3. Oh, and I puree first, then simmer. This last batch I was lazy, so I just chopped. We'll see how they turn out.

  4. Hey! Just came across this link and thought you might find it beneficial when you start your canning:


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