Friday, December 19, 2008

Let's Make Cornbread: With Russian Ingredients (Part 1)

Hey there Cowboys and Cowgirls, today we're going to make cornbread. This is a novelty here in Russia and sometimes I call it genuine cowboy bread because that makes it all the more interesting. Plus it's easier to say in Russian.

Our first step is to gather the dry ingredients and get them measured out. That'll take about 15 minutes and we can do that while oatmeal cooks for breakfast. Later we'll get to those liquid ingredients. Okay with you, Buckaroo?

Here's our cast of characters, each of which is dry. If it sounds funny to put it that way, attribute it to dry humor.

First let's introduce our minor characters. They're actually ultra important but they're in smaller amounts. So I measure them out first. I just like working from the smaller up to the bigger. Or maybe better to say from the lesser to the greater.

Mr Salt (соль) is there on the left. Congratulations, we're using iodized salt, that's what it says on the box. (No goiters for us!) Next is Soda (сода) and then we have our baking powder. Of course the container is from the US, but not the powder inside.

Because after like 8 years in Russia, after 8 years of lugging baking powder here in my suitcase, I learned that there really is baking powder in Russia, it's just a long and complex name that would be translated literally, as I recall, lifting powder. So it wasn't in my dictionaries as such. Also it's sold in small little packets, so it looks a whole lot different. But I like to open up all my little packets and empty them into the metal tin there. Makes me feel at home. Well, I'll want to get a packet of that lifting powder and get a shot of it it for you. (Note to self: Pick up some lifting powder for shooting purposes.)

Here come the big ingredients. On the left is Mr Flour, in Russian, мука - pronounced MOO-ka. Oops, I mislead you. It should be pronounced moo-KA. This is important. Because MOO-ka means torture or torment. And who wants to buy that by the kilogram, for pity's sake? Also, ALSO, we don't want to ask for муха, pronounced MOO-ha. That MOO-ha means flies and, call me prim, but one thing I avoid putting in cornbread is insects. . . even though I have requested a packet of flies in stores, quite often as a matter of fact. Anyway, it's just a personal preference. How about you, Buckaroo? True, flies might be low-cost protein, but there's just something about little black specks in the cornbread. Okay, I trust we're all in agreement on the flour issue. Da?

Next is Mr Cornmeal. We've got some choices here. Both of these fellows are exotic in a way, they're foreigners, having been imported from elsewhere. That means they don't come cheap. The Cornmeal is the difficult to find ingredient for cornbread. But there are ways of solving this. About once a year in the supermarket, I'll see a new shipment of cornmeal has arrived. And you know what that means. It means right now, immediately, no second thoughts, buy 6-8 packages. I've done it and they've never once had me arrested, jailed or even questioned. Chances are, the telephone has been tapped but so far, so good.

The fine cornmeal on the left is just too fine - it's more like corn flour. It comes from Great Britain and I save that for culinary emergencies. But since today we're making genuine cowboy bread, we'll use the packet on the right because that's a little coarser. And Mr Coarse is joining us from France, which means that, as a matter of fact, he's really quite refined.

Here's our French cornmeal. Ooo-la-la. Vive la cornmeal. There's another option for those who don't have access to cornmeal: Get some of that corn granule cereal - that would be the super- hard bits of corn ready to boil up and cook for breakfast. (If you were raised in a Russian orphanage, per chance, you would have had that for breakfast.) Get some of that, grind it up in a coffee grinder and there you go, coarsely ground cornmeal. That is if you happen to have a coffee grinder and enjoy grinding up 1/4 cup of something bit by bit. Nyet for me. (Note to self: Get a packet of that hard corn for shooting purposes.)

So here are are cannisters of major dry ingredients, just so you know that I do things properly around here. I am a home economist, after all. Let's capitalize that, Home Economist. Because I'm pretty proud of that. (Is it a sin to be proud?) Please forgive me. I'm just pleased to be what I am professionally.

Here are our dry ingredients and that's where we'll leave this project for the time being. Join us after the break for Making Cornbread with Real Russian Ingredients, Part II. But don't go away because you know what? We will have some fresh cornbread later on this afternoon. And you'll want some of that, right? Plus I'll give you the super duper extra jazzy recipe I use for cornbread.


Anonymous said...

I have wondered and wondered for most of my 15 years of going to Ukraine why/how I never ate cornbread, never heard of cornbread, never saw cornmeal, and my Ukrainian friends didn't have any idea of what I was talking about. Ah, at last you have helped to solve the mystery my dear friend! I love the introductions complete with Russian word, and the ingredients mugging for the camera! I can't wait for the sequel to come out!! You are an excellent blogger, my dear friend!!
Blessin's and Love, cindy b.

Eileen said...

Hey Cindy, Bet Zhitomer friends would love cornbread with their borshch. =) So now, you know all the ingredients. Not sure what would be available cornmeal-wise in Zhitomer. . . but you could always haul a pkt or two over with you. ;) Also, see the baking powder in Part 3... Thanks for your comment.

Thanks also for the magazines you couriered over for me. They got lots of usage in Kiev.

Sunday morning and time to beautify myself for church. ;)

Anonymous said...

Hi Eileen, enjoy your blog. I have some questions about Rostov and life there & would be grateful if we could establish contact: herringtonkarl(at) (need to put @ in instead of "at")

Anonymous said...

hi eileen! soo glad i found your page. i just want to ask you where did you get baking powder? i live in Rostov too. thank you :)

Anonymous said...

hi Eileen! so glad i found your page. i just want to ask where did you get baking powder? i live in Rostov too. thank you :)

Khaki Sandy Girl said...

Thanks for posting this, I recently moved to Kazakhstan and everyone says "there is no baking powder here." Which doesn't make sense given the baked goods you see everywhere - clearly there IS baking powder if you know where to look - you gave me my first clue.

Eileen said...

Dear Anonymous and other friends, Goodness, I'm just now seeing these comments which have been here for a Long Time! (Blogger had earlier automatically forwarded comments to my email...something has gone awry with That...sorry!) Anyway, I've been able to find the baking powder at local supermarkets (Kooperatora Don on Voroshilovksy, Perekrestok on Krasnoarmeiski, also at mom-and-pop neighborhood markets sometimes... please forgive the spelling in English!)