Russia has a long history of droughts and famines. Although there have been no famines since 1947, the former Soviet Union saw many food shortages. By the time the Soviet Union was about to collapse, many common items of food were being rationed.
Shelves held only rotten vegetables, butchers counters had pitiful scraps of bone and fat instead of sausages, chops, and joints. As recently as last year Russia halted exports of its wheat as fears of a shortage once again raised its head.
So it may seem a strange choice when it comes to discussing cuisine, comfort food, and cookery. But, the advent of the multi-cooker has made it easier than ever to try new recipes at home, and Russian food has much to recommend.
Because it is comforting, is the simplest answer to this question. Russian weather can at times be harsh, and some areas are bitterly cold. If you come from a country that enjoys a full spectrum of seasons then you will understand that when winter comes, sometimes all you want is some proper comfort food.
Russian cuisine can provide dishes that are full of carbs, fill up bellies, and generally satisfy and protect against the cold. If you were from England then you would probably describe some Russian food as the kind of meal that sticks to your ribs.
However, if the English think they eat a lot of potatoes, then they can think again, compared to the Russians. Mashed potato may well be the ultimate comfort food, and it is served everywhere in Russia. Ok, maybe not in a pizza restaurant or McDonald’s. Actually, McD’s did make a mashed potato burger but chose to market that in China instead of Russia.
But the truth is, Russian food can be very satisfying, and while it may not be diet-friendly, it can be heart-warming and is often about family and friends. Much of Russian food is home-cooked and shared with families. An interest in Russian culture and history could help to bring people together in all walks of life, especially if enjoyed with some pelmeni.
Last year saw the Covid pandemic arrive that is still currently ongoing. This resulted in lockdowns, self-isolation, and quarantines, not to mention far more serious consequences. The effects of Covid are still being felt through Europe and across the globe. It could be years before a return to a proper sense of normality happens.
Because of the restrictions that were put in place, people have been unable to visit restaurants, and they have also had travel plans curtailed. For many, this meant taking the problem into their own hands and finding a solution. The answer for some was to take up cooking as a hobby and try different recipes.
Cooking at home during lockdowns meant that a new hobby was found, time was used more usefully, and knowledge of other cultures could be explored through the medium of food. The success of one or two kitchen appliances has also helped.
A multi-cooker is an appliance that has various cooking modes and options. They may be able to sous-vide, saute, bake, and cook rice. They may also have options for slow-cooking which is great for tough cuts of meat. Plus they can pressure cook, to speed up recipes that traditionally take a long time.
Basically, a modern multi-cooker, such as the Instant Pot or Ninja Foodi, is similar to the older style pressure cookers, but with a lot more features. They have helped many amateur cooks to start to try different recipes as the cooker does most of the work, and the food is ready very quickly.
They might be a good option when put together with Russian comfort food, as the meals can be prepared and cooked with very little fuss.
So, what does Russian food consist of? Is it just lots of cabbage and potatoes?
Ok, so it is true that potatoes are popular, but part of this is for practical reasons. When it comes to serving up sustainable food and ingredients, potatoes are up there with the best.
Every country has its own main carbohydrate when it comes to staple dishes. This may be pasta (or noodles), rice, or potatoes. Obviously, bread is a factor too, but for the purposes of this article, the first three will be looked at as they form the basis of many meals across the world.
Between potatoes, rice, and pasta, the former is the most environmentally friendly option by far. Also, in the harsh winters suffered in parts of Russia, there is often a lack of fresh vegetables, and potatoes are always available.
Favourite food options for Russians will often include dishes with potato, however, for the national dish, this is swapped out for wheat.
Pelmeni is a kind of dumpling that is usually stuffed with meat. It can be served in soup, deep-fried, slathered in butter, and is highly popular. It is sometimes treated a little as convenience food but can make a hearty broth or soup with sour cream too.
It would be possible to make pelmeni in an Instant Pot, and there are plenty of recipes for similar dumplings on the internet. But, perhaps this particular part of Russian culture should be saved for traditional cooking methods.
Multi-cookers are often associated with healthy cooking, and it might be a shame to take away the joy of heavily buttered pelmeni, or deep-fried dumplings, by trying to turn them into a calorie-friendly option.
Other dishes that have been enjoyed over the centuries include borscht, blintzes, plov, kotleti, and of course beef stroganoff. There is also solyanka soup which is both sweet and sour and is believed to be the best hangover cure available.
Borscht is highly adaptable to the seasons as it can be eaten cold in warm weather, or hot when the winter nights draw in.
So, assuming you have access to a multi-cooker or Instant Pot, then you may be able to pull off some authentic Russian dishes without too much trouble.
Beef stroganoff has been around since the 1800’s when it first appeared and has been attributed to the Count Stroganoff of that period. Whatever the truth is, stroganoff is one meal from Russia that has spread to many other countries.
The problem with this dish is that many countries such as the UK and the US adopted it and switched out quality ingredients for convenient ones such as tinned mushroom soup. Fortunately, recipes from Corrie Cooks and other websites have now corrected this, and you can find much better versions.
Making the best beef stroganoff could mean a lot of slow cooking but a pressure cooker means that you can achieve the same results in 20 minutes. To make the best stroganoff use good ingredients. There are two schools of thought here though.
Many cooks will advocate the use of sirloin or rib-eye steak for beef stroganoff, but others will prefer a long slow cook with a cheaper, but tastier cut of meat. If you are using the Instant Pot for fast results then go for a quality piece of beef.
Russian food may not be popular in the way that Thai, Chinese, or Italian are. However, dishes from this country are made with love and they bring people together.
One could be more satisfying than producing a tasty stroganoff in just twenty minutes and serving it up to a table full of family on a cold winter’s night?
Start your days with a better morning routine
Your morning sets the tone for the day to come. By starting the day with intent you’ll find yourself in a much more productive groove for the rest of the day. Below, we explore how you can improve your morning routine.
Maintain a fixed bedtime and waking time
Your body works better with consistent sleep. Ideally, you’ll sleep at broadly the same time each evening and wake up at roughly the same time. This way, you can enjoy a more restful sleep and feel more energised when it’s time to get going in the morning.
Get out of bed
It can be difficult when you wake up comfily in bed. There’s not much incentive to leave the warmth and start your day! However, by wearing a ladies dressing gown you can take this cosy feeling with you as you make your breakfast and begin your day.
Avoid your phone
Scrolling through your news feed is a passive activity that can harm your productivity in the morning. It can be tempting to spend a little longer in bed looking at your phone, but this sort of procrastination can result in a slow day. Instead, try leaving your phone in another room to get going quickly.
Focus Your Positive Energy
Try taking a moment to yourself to start the day. By meditating or at least doing deep breathing exercises, you can calm your mind and escape negative thoughts. By focusing your positive energy like this, you can have more clarity throughout the day and avoid stress.
Positive affirmations such as “I am strong, smart, capable and kind” can put you in an excellent mindset to start the day. By being kind to yourself, you can boost your confidence, improve your relationships and put yourself in a great mood to start the day.
Take a Walk
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the day ahead, a walk can help you clear your mind and prepare for the day. Ideally, you’ll walk around calming trees and greenery to give you a sense of tranquillity before you begin the day.
Choose healthy breakfast options
A healthy breakfast can get your day off to the right start. Whole, unprocessed food is an excellent option – particularly ones containing protein and fibre. Try cooking yourself for eggs, or maybe go for porridge with fruit to begin your day with nutrition.
The way you start your day is crucial. If you begin in an organised, positive way you can set yourself up to have a productive day. It can feel tempting to spend a little longer in bed but being proactive will benefit you in the long run.
6 Tips on Dressing the Best This Holiday Season
Dressing your best doesn’t always have to be reserved for the holiday season. However, it is nice to put a little bit more effort into your outfits when you have something to celebrate and look forward to. So, here are some tips to help you pick out some killer outfits this Christmas. You’ll have everyone at the work Christmas party asking, where did she get that from?
Christmas jumpers may seem like a good idea at the time, but do you really want to look back on your Christmas holiday photos and think, what on earth was I wearing? Saying that, there are a lot of Christmas jumpers out there that are a bit less in-your-face and are more subtle. A simple grey or white Christmas jumper with a minimalist design can be a good way to get in the festive mood, without coming across as too garish.
Every year the cold months come upon us, and every year all you hear is ‘it’s got really cold all of a sudden.’ This year is no exception, the cold months are most definitely here. The best way to combat this is to make sure you’re wrapped up and are wearing proper layers to keep you cosy. To ensure that your entire body stays warm, keep your feet warm by wearing two pairs of socks or fluffy socks. Then, when putting your Christmas outfits together, put a vest top underneath your normal t-shirt, or wear a long sleeve top underneath a t-shirt. Layering doesn’t always have to be unfashionable, there are some really simple things you can do to make sure you don’t get too cold this holiday season.
An all-black outfit can be made to look more festive with a simple pop of colour, say a red bag and shoes. Adding an item of colour into an otherwise simple look is a great way to draw attention to your look, as everyone’s eyes are guaranteed to go to your new red luxury bag. Basic black and white outfits look best when adding colour to your accessories, so keep this in mind when styling your Christmas looks. Although it can be tempting to buy a new black bag as this is the safe option, try something new, and invest in a bag with a little bit more colour. It doesn’t have to be super bright, a dark navy or green can look elegant too.
It’s usually at this time of year that you see all the sparkly tops, dresses and jumpers come back into fashion stores. This year is no exception. Darker colours, like burgundy and green, can look really festive without the need for a Christmas jumper. If you do want to stand out at your work Christmas party, then opt for an item of clothing with a little bit of shimmer in it, like a glittery top or dress.
Getting it right at the work Christmas party is a sport. The theme might be ‘smart casual’, what does this really mean? Is a dress too formal, but are jeans too casual? When deciding on what you should wear, think about the kind of people who will also be there, and what they are likely to wear too. For example, you might not want to wear a super revealing dress to a work event, you might be better saving this dress for New Year’s Eve instead. To prevent any fashion faux pas, send a simple ‘what are you wearing tonight?’ text to someone else is going, this way you won’t be over or underdressed.
It’s the festive season, after all, so don’t worry too much about what you’re wearing and instead concentrate on the things that matter – like spending time with your family and friends. Don’t worry too much about trying to impress other people with your on-trend outfits, and instead refine your own sense of personal style over the Christmas period. This time can be a great excuse for you to experiment with your current wardrobe and accessories, so enjoy it and stay honest with yourself.
6 Tricks for Decorating Your Living Room on a Budget
A well-designed living room is a place where you can feel most yourself. Fortunately, you do not need to spend a fortune to freshen up your home. Discover 10 simple but effective tricks that can be used with any budget.
Colors are the easiest way to make a neutral design less bland. For example, you could bring the room to life with a green sofa. If you do not want to make massive changes, opt for small but charming elements. For example, you could stick some colorful stained glass feathers onto the window or style your coffee table with some vases with garden cuttings.
A stylish geometric rug will not cost a fortune, but it will pull your room together, completing the interior design. To maximize the effect, arrange the furniture items around it. Throw some matching pillows on the sofa to make the room look even chicer.
The rug should not be too small or too big. In the first case, you may not be able to show off your wooden floor. In the second case, the rug may look suspended in space.
If you want to create a cozy, cocoon-like atmosphere and designer feel, opt for dramatic shades. Even budget brands of wall paint offer rich dark colors. You could use wallpaper instead — for example, navy blue or indigo with interesting patterns like feathers. Even black or slate gray will look great. Remember to add some bright details like a lamp, a ceiling light, or a stained glass table.
Combine different materials to create a sophisticated but subtle effect. This is particularly effective for neutral color palettes. For example, you could add some metal, tweed, leather, velvet, wool elements, feathers, stained glass, or sheepskin throws.
Try rearranging the furniture and items to display what you own and create more space. For example, if you have a fireplace, you could place your stained glass lamps and vases symmetrically on both sides to create a more sophisticated look.
Order floor-length curtains on demand if you want to evoke the grandeur of stately homes. The curtains do not have to be plain — if you choose a patterned material, they will be more eye-catching. At the same time, they may still be affordable, depending on the fabric. To boost the vibe, add a beautiful chandelier and some stained glass feathers.
As you can see, you can freshen up your living room without significant investment. Rearrange the items, add some bright accents like feathers, and play with textures and colors to express a new authentic vision. If you have any vintage items, show them off, too!
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