Chanukah finished last week, but the holiday season is still around us. For me, there is still New Year’s, which is a big deal to Russians. In Russia, we had a New Year’s tree (it’s like a Christmas tree only in Russia it’s for New Year’s). Once we came to America, the tree was replaced by a menorah (we knew families who had both tree and menorah, but we weren’t them), but my parents still kept the tradition of Grandfather Winter and presents going. Then, when we got too old to believe in Gramps, it was just presents, which was fine by me. My parents still give us presents for New Year’s. 🙂
The holidays were also time to spend with my grandparents, and while my grandpa told stories, my grandma, sister, and I would bake cookies and other Russian treats. Often, my sister and I would just watch my grandma make all kinds of delicacies. When I got older and wanted to write down her recipes, it was hard because the convo would go something like this:
Me: So, how much flour do I need to add?
Grandma: What do you mean? Just add until no more fits.
Me: Um, and that would be how much?
Grandma: Enough so the milk is absorbed.
Me: Alright. How much milk?
Grandma: Enough to get a liquidy consistency. Whatever fits…
And so it would go. When I wrote INCONVENIENT, Russian food played a big role. My characters ate it at Russian parties and as part of their daily routines. And as I wrote, I wanted to make the recipes more and more, to bring to life the foods I wrote about, the foods I made with my grandma. So, since the recipe cards I have go with the “whatever fits” rule of cooking, I looked up some of my favorite ones (and those that appear in INCONVENIENT) online. Below is a good one for these cold days, with credit to allrecipes.com (http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Traditional-Russian-Pirozhki/Detail.aspx). Enjoy and let me know how it turns out!
Traditional Russian Pirozhki
2 cups milk, warmed
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
6 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 medium head cabbage, finely chopped
6 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
salt and pepper to taste