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Exploring Geography: Russia

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This week’s Exploring Geography post comes from Amanda, who blogs at The Educators’ Spin On It. Amanda’s blog is full of wonderful, creative learning ideas for kids! Here are three of my favorite posts written by Amanda: Raising Eco Tots: 10 environmentally friendly activities to do with toddlers, Ice Cream King Playdate, and A Weather Post about Sunshine and Solar Panels.

moscow

I have had the opportunity to travel to Russia several times over the past 10 years. In addition to traveling in Moscow, Izhevsk, Votkins, Nishny Novgorod and some other smaller cities, I have had the opportunity to teach in the elementary school and classes for students leaving to spend the year abroad in the United States. Most of our time traveling was spent in family and friends homes, or flats. Although the architecture is amazing, the nature breathtaking, and the people kind-hearted, I wanted to write today about the food!

dacha

Russian food is absolutely delicious. I think that this is mostly due to the fact than many Russians have a dacha, or small home in the country. Traditionally, the family spends the time gardening and getting away from city life on the weekends during nice weather. All of our Russian family and friends have gigantic gardens bursting with fruit, vegetables, and flowers. They put our family’s small attempts at gardening to shame. Here are some of our family gathering outside for a casual barbeque of shashlick (shish-ka-bobs) and summer vegetables after an afternoon of gardening. Just like many families around the world, our Russian friends and families have both formal and informal dining!

family eating

The families harvest their crops and eat what they harvest, which means that food in the fall is directly out of the garden and onto your plate. When I was there for 2 months, we had a salad of fresh cucumber, tomato, onion, radish, and fresh spices with open face sandwiches every day for breakfast. Why? Because those were the vegetables that were being harvested in the gardens. Then, for the winter months, our family and many others can their produce making the most delightful combinations of pickled vegetables. Winter salads consist of more root vegetables, such as Salad Olivier, a version of the potato salad traditionally eaten in the winter months.

russia

My grandmother in-law was the absolute best cook ever. She made meals like the one pictured above for us any time we visited. She really could make the most amazing food. Some of my favorites were ladushki, blini, peroshki’s and more. Although I could never replicate, or even come close to her fantastic cooking, I am trying to pass along the tradition of cooking Russian with my kids. We have made Borscht, pelmeni, breads, and many salads. I scour the internet trying to find recipes in English that we can try. We know which ones make the cut when my husband can’t get enough of them, asks us to make it every day and says, “This is just as good, if not better than my Grandma’s.” Although I know that he is just saying that to be sweet, I wanted to pass along some websites that we have found to be helpful, in case you want to take a trip to Russia without actually traveling there!

food1

Smitten Kitchen has a collection of Russian food dishes, as her husband is Russian as well. We have tried her Stuffed Cabbage, gulopbsy and Salad Olivier.

Natasha’s Kitchen is an everyday Russian and Ukrainian cooking blog with recipes for a variety of traditional and new dishes. We can’t wait to try her apple ladushkis, or apple pancakes.

If you want to follow along on our Russian adventures, we’d love to have you stop by our blog, The Educators’ Spin On It. I often write about trying to raise bilingual children and cooking around the World in addition to many other parenting topics.

Thank you, Amanda, for this wonderful post! I definitely want to try making apple pancakes!

MaryAnne lives is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

23 thoughts on “Exploring Geography: Russia”

  1. What a fabulous post! I’m truly fascinated by Russia and really enjoyed reading about Amanda’s food experiences there :-)

      1. You two are so sweet! I wish I could better describe how absolutely delicious Russian food is in words =)

      1. They are even neater in person. If you ever have spare time to look at pictures of Russian architecture, it is amazing!

  2. Wow! these are beautiful photos – I feel like I’m there with you! I love this series as we do geography every summer at home. It’s just such a wonderful way to explore the world and introduce kids to cultures. We tried apple pancakes once at home – they were pretty good but it was difficult to convince the kids that they didn’t need to use maple syrup with those types of ‘pancakes’ :) Just another great cultural lesson in food!

    1. The apple pancakes sound delicious, can’t wait to try them! So glad you enjoy this series!

      1. Hmmm.. I think maple syrup would be good, but if I remember correctly, we drizzled them with a jam / compot berry mixture! There are some traditional ladushki (pancakes) on the more formal eating picture on the white table cloth (to the left) and the jam is in the bowls with berries. Maryanne, I love this series too and have enjoyed reading about other countries!

  3. I love the fact that gardens are so important, very cool. I would have a hard time eating veggies and sandwiches in the morning but I am sure I would get used to it. Thanks for the links.

    1. It was neat. They have an alpine strawberry that is so tiny, but full of flavor that I miss dearly! It was wonderful to spend weekends at the dacha and we try to visit in August because of the harvest times!

  4. This post just sucked me in! Maybe because as I travel with my family I love to find the food that fits the culture…Even though we don’t travel out of the country…each part of America has unique food! It is getting hard to find them…because of all the big chains..but it is worth the time! I loved that you added links for food…I am excited to try them! thank you!

    1. Local food is one of my favorite ways to “get to know” a new place – there is so much you can learn through the food!

    1. I’m so glad you guest posted – love all the food in this post, and I always enjoy your Russia posts at The Educators’ Spin On It! Thank you!!!

  5. Awesome! I was in Russian club in college, and learned to LOVE Russian food. I actually have some borscht in the freezer right now, this post makes me want to thaw it out for tomorrow’s dinner.

    1. Oooh, I wish I had some in my freezer too! That does sound good! We have tried to grow beets in our garden and had success this year! They are ready for harvesting and I am looking forward to making some Borsht.

  6. That definitely brings back memories of summertime. Unlike dacha people, my parents preferred wild mushrooms and berries picking. I remember many weekends spent mushroom and berry hunting and then preparing them for winter in various ways.

  7. Elisa | blissfulE

    This post makes me hungry! And want to garden! Absolutely love the blue house with yellow roof, too!!

  8. Hi! Nice post! Brought back so many memories! I am originally from Russia but haven’t lived there for the past 11 years. Russia food is mostly quite rich and heavy so I rarely cook it but Borscht is our all time favorite.

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