• Russian Gourmet: Stuffed Bell Peppers

    During my conversation with George Detsios he mentioned that his restaurant had a very short menu which included stuffed peppers and stuffed cabbage. Stuffed peppers are not hard to make and if you purchase the peppers at the City Market like I did for 3-for-a-dollar they are also very inexpensive. I am not sure if they will be as good as George’s but you wouldn’t know any better anyway.

    First, assemble the ingredients and equipment. You will need 6 peppers, lean ground beef, a carrot, few stalks of celery, an onion,a handful of rice, a can of tomato juice, cooking (olive) oil, salt, pepper, large pot to hold the peppers, smaller pot to boil tomato juice and a skillet. If you have a choice pick the peppers other than green, they are sweeter.

    Put a handful of rice into a small pot of water, heat it up until it just boils then rinse. Remove the tops from the peppers, clean out the seeds and wash the peppers inside and outside. Do not discard the tops.

    Chop an onion, and saute on the skillet with (olive) oil until translucent and soft. Shred a carrot into the skillet and continue sauteing on the low heat.

    During that time boil a pot of water, turn off the heat, put peppers with tops in the pot and let them soften up for a few minutes. Drain the water and remove peppers.

    While the peppers are cooling, boil tomato juice. Adjust salt/sugar levels to taste.

    Mix ground beef, onions and carrots from the skillet, shredded celery and a couple of handfuls of water. Add salt if needed.

    Stuff the mixture into peppers. Do not try to fit as much meat into a pepper as you can, this is not a meat-stuffing contest. Place peppers into an empty pot and cover with tops.

    If you still have leftover meat  – roll it into a meatball and place it in the pot with peppers.

    Pour boiling tomato juice over peppers, bring to boil, then simmer for 20-30 minutes. The goal is to have the stuffing cooked without letting the peppers disintegrate.

    Serve with sour cream.

    Here are the rest of my photos.

    Disclaimer:this blog assumes no responsibility if the words “stuffing meat” got you excited. Please move on.

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  • I Went All Red…

    …still waiting for the women.

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  • Weird Missouri: Precious Moments

    The Chapel at Precious Moments is just as beautiful as the Sistine Chapel. I have been to both. Obviously Precious Moments was painted in a more modern style, but they are on the same level. Amazing Place!

    No. I did not make this up.

    I’ve seen many things during my travels but the Precious Moments gift store and attached Chapel take the cake for being the strangest, creepiest place I’ve ever been to.

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  • Old Photos: Soviet Medicine

    The World’s Most Socialized Medicine.

    With paramedics, polyclinics and plastic bone banks everybody gets free care in the USSR.

    In the 1919 when the newly launched Soviet Union was threatened by a plague of louse-borne typhus, Vladimir Illyich Lenin bluntly warned his countrymen: “Either the lice defeat socialism or socialism defeats the lice.” The USSR survived the lice and in the half century since has built to most massive system of the national health care ever known, still based on Lenin’s logical, if unsentimental premise: Russia needs her workers, and a sick worker cannot work.

    From birth do death the Soviet citizen is followed by a dossier of his health history. He may get production line preventive treatment without leaving his post at school, factory, farm or office. If he is sick but can walk, he goes to a polyclinic, one of thousands of free, all-purpose infirmaries. At least in the cities there are doctors aplenty. Of the world’s 2.5 million physicians, 500,000 – or one in five – are Russians. (The U.S. by comparison has 309,000 M.D.s, for a population 85% as large. Another half million trained medical assistants called feldshers supplement the doctors, particularly in the vast, thinly settled rural outlands.

    The system has flaws. To achieve quantity, the quality of treatment often suffers. Hospital sanitation is spotty at best. Anesthetics and modern equipment are often unavailable and most advanced drugs have to be imported. Dentistry is painfully old-fashioned. Medical education considered as a whole, is not up to U.S. standards (I would argue with that. M.V). But the Soviet goal is a lifetime health care for everyone, and any enterprise that ambitious is bound to have failings.

    Life Magazine, January 23, 1970

    For some real-life hospital photos check out my earlier post.

    The role of women in the Soviet Medicine - 70% of all doctors are female -is glorified in posters like this one outside of free clinic. ©Time Inc.Bill Ray.

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  • Found In The Russian Store: Hot Smoked Fish

    If I was ever to create an air freshener or an aromatic candle or, dare I say, a fragrance, it would have a smell of smoked fish. It’s the smell that combines the sea air, fresh caught fish, a smoldering fire on the beach, sounds of seagulls in the sky, a small boat on the horizon lit up by the setting sun. It’s the smell that makes you want to take a deep breath and  fill your lungs with fragrant smoky air. It’s also the smell that would keep everyone you know away from your place, which is good if you don’t like to share.

    Millions of Americans live their entire lives without ever trying smoked fish, and that’s a shame since this could be easily avoided by making a trip to the nearest Russian or Eastern European store. While the Russian store may not have the variety of a typical smoked fish vendor in Odessa, Ukraine you see on the photo below, it has enough to give you an idea what you are missing.

    Smoked fish vendor in Odessa, Ukraine. ©Albir

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