Friday, 04 November 2016 00:00

Let's get one thing straight: I love spice. I especially love the heat, the taste, and the fruity aroma of hot peppers. My favorite one is the humble jalapeño. It goes with almost anything, or you can even eat them straight out of the jar! This version is probably a little more expensive than the store-bought ones. With this method, however, you know exactly how they are made and what's going into them (adjusting the flavor and ingredients as required).

This recipe is good for anywhere between 5 to 10 peppers. How you enjoy them is up to you. I may come back to these for a future recipe (spoiler alert!).


5–10 jalapeño peppers

Pickling brine

1 cup water

1 cup white vinegar (I tried a substitute for this once, and the results weren't as great.)

1 tablespoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar (adjust to taste)

1 to 2 whole garlic cloves, peeled

1/2 tablespoon dried oregano (can be substituted for Italian seasoning, but I prefer oregano)


1. Cut the peppers into rings of roughly equal thickness. Quickly rinse under a cold tap to remove any seeds dislodged when cutting. You can skip this step if you like more of a fiery kick, as this step can take some of the heat out.

2. In a saucepan, add the water and vinegar. Next, add the remaining brine ingredients, and give it a stir. Bring the brine to a boil.

3. Once the brine has started to boil, add the peppers. Stir, and then turn off the heat. Allow the brine and the peppers to cool to room temp. You'll see the color of the pepper change as they start to pickle.

4. When the brine has cooled, grab a slotted spoon or kitchen tongs, and pick out the peppers from the brine. Add them to the jar (don't forget the garlic clove(s), too!), and then fill the jar with the brine. Store in the fridge once cooled. They should be good for a week or so.


Tuesday, 01 March 2016 00:00

According to statistics, the consumption of cabbage in Russia is seven times more than in the United States. So, you can imagine we have many recipes for cabbage in Russia. We cook cabbage soups, make cabbage salads, bake pierogies with cabbage, and wrap sausages in cabbage leaves. But the most popular way to eat it is pickled, because of its ability to preserve vitamins, and its excellent taste. 

I learned how to pickle cabbage from my grandmother. It’s much easier than you might think, and I want to share this great recipe with you. It tastes unusual. It looks great. It’s crunchy, sweet, sour, and spicy at the same time. I hope you enjoy it as much as everyone I’ve served it to has! 


1 medium head of cabbage

1 carrot

1 beetroot

1/2 garlic head

5 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons salt

1/2 cup olive oil

1 cup of apple cider vinegar

A couple of bay leaves

1 tablespoon ground black pepper

5 cups of water

Juniper berries



1. Shred the beet and carrots. Mix them in a large bowl with finely chopped garlic.

mixed veggies

2. Cut the cabbage into large pieces. Don’t chop it! Large chunks will taste better than chopped ones in the end.

cut cabbage

3. Set the cabbage pieces firmly on the top of the shredded vegetables. 

4. For making the brine: Mix together water, salt and pepper. Boil the brine for just 1 minute, and then add olive oil, apple cider vinegar, crushed juniper berries and bay leaves. Let it boil all together for just 1 minute more.

5. Pour the hot brine into the bowl with the vegetables.

Pouring brine over cabbage mixture

6. Be sure the cabbage is covered with brine. Press it down with a heavy lid, or with any flat plate with a glass of water on the top, as I do.

plate covering brined cabbage

7. Leave the cabbage at room temperature for 24 hours.

The next day, the cabbage is ready to eat. Keep the cabbage in the fridge, but be preparedit won’t last long, it gets eaten so fast!

pickled cabbage dish

I hope my grandma's recipe will become one of your favorite vegetarian dishes.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015 00:00

Yes. My wonderful hubby and I have written a couple cookbooks. We did this because we were running the Clubhouse at a couple of the West Coast Regional SF conventions aka Westercon.


At the Westercons, there were two hospitality suites. Our Clubhouse was the one with the baklava, home baked breads, coffee cakes, fresh salads, and other wonderful food.


Our first cookbook is called MAWS. The second is called FOOD JAZZ.


That's how I look at ingredients. Here's an excerpt from FOOD JAZZ.


"Food as jazz . . . Each ingredient playing its part in a harmonious combination of flavors. Consider a salsa. High treble riff of hot chilies, a melody of tomatoes, perky notes of cilantro, a background bass of garlic, and onions keeping a syncopated rhythm.


A duo of cooks steeped - and sometimes pickled - in experience tossing salad ingredients like a Dixieland band tossing happy notes. The ingredients are like little melodies waiting to be turned like the whippoorwill's song into a blues potato salad, a curry, or a new dip that just seems to flow together."


'Nuff said about that. Here's the corn relish recipe. Homemade beats store bought any day.





Corn Relish


2 cups cut corn (1-1/2 dozen ears)

1 quart chopped cabbage

1 cup chopped sweet red pepper


1 cup chopped green pepper

1 cup chopped onion

1 tablespoon celery seed

1 tablespoon salt

1 table turmeric

2 tablespoons mustard seed

1 cup water 1 quart vinegar

1 to 2 cups sugar


To prepare the corn, boil 5 minutes; then cut from the cob.  Combine with the remaining ingredients and simmer 20 minutes.  Finish off by bringing to a full boil.  Pack hot into hot pint jars, leaving 1/8 inch head space.  Adjust caps.  Process 15 minutes, following standard canning procedures.  Makes about 6 pints


Corn Relish Dip


1 pint home-made corn relish, drained

8 ounces cream cheese


Mix together and serve with crackers, bread pieces, or veggies.   By adding or decreasing the amount of cream cheese, this can be formed into a mold, used as a dip or spread.