Saturday, February 9, 2013

Another Cooking Post...Beet Style!

Kristen says...

I don't like trying new foods.

This shouldn't be surprising to anyone who has read the food-related posts on the blog in the past, but nor should it be surprising that I like to do cook...which is kind of a weird combination, when you think about it...

Anyway, I decided to put on my big girl panties this week and cook and eat not one but two new foods.

The first was buckwheat (which I had honestly only heard of because one of my jr. high classmates had a dog named Buckwheat).

During my many trips to the local "Fresh 25" I have spent a good amount of minutes in the grains aisle. Of course, most of the packages are labeled in Russian, but luckily they almost all also carry images or have see-through windows to the grains inside, so staples like rice and oatmeal are easily found:
However, I noticed there was a large section of grain-type product that I didn't recognize. They were brown, triangular, and more readily available than any other grain:
 So, I wrote down the word and looked it up at home, and found out that buckwheat is actually really, really good for you. It's a gluten-free potato, rice or bread substitute with high levels of magnesium, fiber and other good stuff, and it's really cheap here...

So I Googled some buckwheat recipes.

I was going to start with the first recipe on this page that had just buckwheat, onions, and cheese, but I kept scrolling and saw the second recipe, one that included beets...and I thought, well, I'm in Russia I'm going to have to try beets sometime, it might as well be in the privacy and safety of my own home...

So I got out the big-girl panties and started cooking:

I started with two beets, sliced (did you know a potato peeler works pretty well if you don't have a grater available?!) which made a little bit of a mess, I can tell you! :)
While I was "peeling" the beet, Chris was chopping and sweating the onions:
To which we added the beets and some water.
  Then we cooked it for a l-o-o-o-n-g time...longer than it took to cook the buckwheat, which was super simple...
 2 bags, boiling water, 20 minutes, done:
Before (top) and after
After the beets and onions were (finally) cooked down we plated the dinner, poured over a little lemon juice and some cheese (the recipe called for feta but we just used the white cheese we had available):
 and, with trepidation on both sides, took our first bites...

...and darn if it wasn't pretty good all around!!

The buckwheat was really nice, had a pleasant texture, kind of like well-cooked rice, but had a bread-y/pasta-y flavor. I liked it.

The beets were like carrots, tender, root-y, but sweet.

Score one for the big-girl panties!

I'm not going to say I will eat beets every day of my life, but they were definitely better than I thought they would be, and buckwheat is definitely going to be added to my list of foods to use in cooking!

During this experience, however, we did have a lucky break from something that could have been a disaster...

The recipe called for either lemon juice or vinegar to be used as garnish. I didn't know how to say either of those and hadn't seen either at the grocery store before, so I wrote down the words on a piece of paper before I went to the grocery store so I could ask for help if I couldn't find them. (The Russian words for lemon juice are лимонного сока, and the word for vinegar is уксус.)

I found the lemon juice on my own, but was stuck with the vinegar. I found this:
which has the word for vinegar, but in an adjectival form (Russian words that end in -ая are feminine adjectives). Everything seems to have percents on it around here, so I couldn't figure out if this was only 70% vinegar or what. I asked one of the friendly sales people, pointing to the word уксус on my paper, and they said that this was the correct thing to buy...

So I bought it and took it home.

It's hard to tell in this picture, but that cap is pretty much impossible to get off the bottle. We both tried, for a long time, and finally Chris managed to get it off, at which point we both about fell over from the strong odor of the liquid inside. It was like vinegar, but way, way stronger and more awful.

 At that point we decided it might just be better to put the lemon juice on our food (I had purchased both, just in case...good thing).

After dinner I decided to Google translate it the name on the bottle...

And found out that I didn't buy vinegar, I bought acetic acid, the main ingredient for vinegar, but at 10x the strength...eek!

Imagine if we'd been able to actually put that on our food! Ouch!

Once again, it pays to be careful when buying foods in a foreign country. Thank goodness for Google translate, stinky smells and hard-to-remove bottle tops! :)

Anyway, the acetic acid went in the trash and I found actual 7% acid vinegar the last time I went to the grocery store so we're all good the next time we decide to eat our beets.



  1. Oh, funny! That is how you buy vinegar in Russia. And, by the way, I DID tell you about buckwheat. I never heard of buckwheat being cooked with beats and what not, but since I love both, I want the recipe. And I have never seen buckwheat being in little baggies. Obviously, I am behind time.

    1. Hey Olga! Sorry I just saw the request for the can find it about halfway down on this website: The recipe is called Buckwheat with fried beetroot and feta cheese...

      Enjoy! :)


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