Sunday, August 28, 2011

Okroshka (Cold Summer Soup)

What can be better than cold vegetable soup on a hot summer day under roof of your deck? This soup is well known to all of us who lived in USSR. It's summer soup with diced vegetables flowting in your choice of cold liquid, either beet base, "kvas" (russian fermented grains drink, or water diluted buttermik). As here, in US "kvas" bought from russian store is too sweet for this purpose, I use beet soup. Should I say I loooove this dish?! Here is picture and recipe.

Okroshka (cold summer soup)

4 potatoes
1/2 english cucumber (diced)
3 eggs (hard boiled, peeled and diced)
4-5 scallions (sliced)
2 beets (size of orange, peeled)
some sour cream (to serve with)
salt to taste
1/2 cup lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons sugar
3 cups bologna (diced, as I'm vegetarian I put it just in my folks plates, you can omit it too!)
2 cups radishes (diced, it's optional, I often omit it because I'm lazy, but original okroshka has it)
some fresh dill (in my opinion must but can be omitted and I go without it if I don't have it on hand)

- Peel beets and potatoes. Put them in a pot with approximately 6 quarts of cold water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 1.5 hour until beets are fully cooked.
- With a slotted spoon, get beets and potatoes from a pot into a separate bowls. Right in a bowl, cut potato roughly add return it to the pot. It's good if some potato disintegrated in a liquid and some is in pieces.
- Grate beets using course grater and return it to the pot also.
- Add lemon juice, salt and sugar. Adjust taste if needed adding more juice, sugar or salt. Do your adjustments until you are going to like the result - it should taste mildly sweet-and-sour.
- Turn off the heat and let beet soup to cool down completely.
- To serve, pour beet/potato soup in a bowl. Top with some cucumber, scallions, bologna and radishes (if using) and then some eggs. Sprinkle with dills and mound with teaspoon of sour cream.
- Enjoy first helping, then second and so on without any guilt - all good stuff there.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Young Whipping Willow

This picture was taken last summer. I bought willow tree (well, stick) online and when I was planting I was not able to take off tough label strip quickly and being short on time, decided to do this a little later. No need to say that I forgot to do that in time. Below is picture of growing willow trying to get juices running up and down, fighting that restricting ring. 

Later, I finally had that removed - it was really hard to do without injuring tree trunk. But I think I did my best, with minimal damage to the tree.
BTW, willow is one of my favorite trees. This particular one I'm planning for outdoor bonsai. Ambitious? Probably. But I'll give it a try.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Beautiful cucumber

I did not know that cucumber planted in a pot can be as beautiful as let's say voilets or any other flowers that we value for their beauty.

Here is how plant support itself by tying lower shoot's spirals around upper parts of the plant:

Here mighty spirals are:

Those potted cucumbers even give fruits. Poor plants - I guess it's like giving birth in jail :), see that rounding baby-cucumber under a leaf?  :

I enjoy viewing those cucumbers on my deck so much that cann't withstand pleasure to post couple more pictures of them (those pictures were taken couple weeks later than upper ones). I hope it is a joy for your eye too.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011