Monthly Archives: December 2012

Sunday Brunch: Brunch Cheesecake

Yep, you heard it right. Cheesecake for brunch! It’s HOLIDAYS! You’ll have time to diet in January 😉

Important: You’re supposed to bake it in the evening – and serve cold in the morning.
Ingredients (for 2-4 servings):
  •   eggs – 4
  •   baking cheese (minimum 10% fat) – 500 g.
  •   sugar – 1/2 cup


  •   sugar – 1 tbsp
  •   hot chocolate powder – 2 tbsp
  •   flour – 3/4 cup
  •   baking soda – 1/2 tsp
  •   cold butter – 50 g.

Continue reading


Sunday Brunch: Kaiserschmarrn with Dried Apricots

Kaiser-what? I looked it up. Wikipedia insists this really is a dessert. A pancake, for that matter, and a thick one at that. Well, I had this recipe saved as a breakfast one – albeit sweet, indeed. And with the Holidays season upon us, dessert for brunch just fits, doesn’t it? Just if you’re curious, “kaiser” means “emperor” (I sense Cesar is from the same family… kaiser, cesar… see?) and “schmarrn” is “mishmash” in Austrian German.

I got bored with wikipedia so can’t tell you what emperor has to do with this breakfast dessert. Or dessert breakfast. But mishmash it is – for this ‘pancake’ gets torn into pieces.

Don’t try this on a regular morning. And don’t try this while everyone’s sleeping – unless you wanna wake them up: you’ll be operating a mixer. But it really is a simple recipe.


  • flour – 100 g
  • rum – 1 tsp
  • eggs – 2
  • sugar – 2 tsp
  • milk – 100 ml (cold)
  • salt (just a pinch)
  • butter (for frying)
  • icing sugar (for decoration)


End of The World Canceled. Or Postponed

I guess we dodged yet another end of the world. Although some say that the Mayan calendar cannot be aligned with the Western one exactly – so there could be a couple of days in discrepancy – meaning the world might still end tomorrow!

I read in the paper about people flocking to Mexico – apparently hoping to be spared whatever fate Mayans had predicted.

I also read that Mayans (and Mexicans) insist that the end of the calendar doesn’t mean world’s end. Quite the opposite: it means we should expect a new, brighter era. Worldwide peace, as they say in beauty pageants? I rather like the notion 🙂

Ahhh, Mexico… We once went to see the pyramids in Coba – since they still allow tourists to climb the stairs.

Coba pyramid in Mexico

We started our ascent and 2/3 up the pyramid I decided to turn around and enjoy the view… only to get glued to the steps, my hands and even feet sweating, and not from the heat. I never knew I am afraid of height! Look at this, isn’t it crazy?

The smile is all pretense, of course.

How did those short Mayans climb the stairs – I don’t know! Maybe they cut the heads off at the top out of mercy so that people won’t have to go down…

Anyway… Happy New Era, everyone 🙂

Happy Holidays?

I feel that this whole political correctness is getting ridiculous. Christmas trees being banned? Saying “Merry Christmas” being banned?

Hey, just because it’s not everybody’s holiday, doesn’t mean it should be nobody’s. That it should be forbidden.

I mean, what’s next? Birthdays will be forbidden, too – because your celebrations might offend those who were born on the other 364 days?..


What’s your take on TV for babies under two?

Talking about my “sick day” aka occupying myself and Timothy with a couple of Christmas movies to make up for my lack of energy to entertain Timothy, I found myself talking out of both sides of my mouth, or however that expression goes.

Overall, I am against TV. We don’t even have cable. I used to waste hours upon hours in front of TV, watching Prison Break, House, American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance – and reruns of Friends, Two and a Half Men, King of Queens. Occasionally, some trashier shows like Top Model and Bachelorette. I hated them, but watched them anyway. Television is hypnotizing, it sucks you in and then next thing you know – time to go to bed.

Well, at the time that was my escape strategy, I believe. Escaping the reality that I didn’t enjoy much. Since I escaped that reality in real life and changed my life for the better, there was no need for TV any longer. I disconnected the cable and felt liberated, Free. No more hurrying home to catch an 8 pm show. No more having to waste 2 hours in a row watching something. Ahhhh, bliss.

But then I love movies. More than anything, I love watching the same feel-good movies, over and over again. You got mail. What women want. Sweet home Alabama. Love actually. Family Stone. The wedding date. Etc, etc, etc. I have three shelves worth of feel-good movies and cartoons (Monsters Inc, Despicable Me, etc.) I love, love, love watching them. And I don’t see any harm in watching a dvd once a week or so.

Enter Timothy.

Timothy watching a video of himself on my phone

Timothy watching a video of himself on my phone

There are recommendations that babies under two years of age aren’t supposed to be watching TV at all. I am not sure why, but my overall feeling is that this recommendation is the same as “pregnant and nursing women should not drink alcohol”. I mean, yes – vodka shots are not advisable :), but from all the extensive reading I did on the topic, it seems like an occasional glass of red wine poses no risk (and some even say it’s good for you). And dark beer, supposedly, increases you milk production. Go figure.

My guess is that “they” don’t trust people to be able to apply moderation. To stop after that one glass of wine. To turn off TV after 30 minutes. They worry that we will turn TV into an easy way to neglect our babies for days on end.

Timothy doesn’t watch TV every day. Well, he doesn’t watch TV – he watches DVDs. Baby Einstein episodes. They are short, they were designed for babies, and they help me get some stuff around the house done on those days when Timothy doesn’t feel like playing on his own for a short little while. I don’t see any harm in that.

And on a few occasions, when I felt too tired and sick, I watched my grown-up movies (romantic comedies… nothing scary :)) and let Timothy “watch” those with me. It felt nice and companionable. I like watching movies together – I feel, for whatever reason, that this shared experience draws family members together. But only if we are actually watching stuff together, not zombyfying ourselves for lack of something else to do.

Again, I feel that screen time for Timothy is under control and do not feel worried.

What’s your take on TV for babies under two? What are your beliefs? What do you/do you not allow?

“And what brought you to Canada?”

Small talk with me often starts like this: “Am I hearing a trace of an accent?”

“A trace of an accent? Why, that’s a big fat flattery, but thank you. The accent is Russian,” – I respond. And then get ready for the big loaded question, which 9 times of 10 follows: “And what brought you to Canada?”

I never know what to say. How much do they wanna hear? How honest should I be? Are they waiting to hear that Canada is the best country in the world and, naturally, everyone wants to come here? Or that Russia is such a horrible place that, naturally, everyone wants to escape, no matter where? Or they don’t know what else to ask?

So I decided to put together a mini-speech that I can give anyone who asks. An entertaining story, omitting some details, embellishing others… but giving them the gist of it.

So. What brought me to Canada?

A guy.

I say this and then pause, to see if they want to hear more – but the pause cannot be long enough to let their thoughts travel down the “Russian Brides Online” path. Not that there is anything wrong with Russian brides online. It’s just that it’s not what it was at all. Russian brides online are dreaming of meeting a foreigner and moving abroad. Me, on the other hand? I never intended to move anywhere at all.

So. A guy.

Yes, he was dreaming of moving out of Russia and he convinced me that it was a grand idea. We arrived in Montreal, him as a student, me as a tourist. It was February.

Do you want a piece of advice? Don’t go to Montreal in February. It’s insanely cold. You look out your window and the sky is cloudless blue, and the sun is shining, and it looks like it might be +30C there. But then you go out, inhale, and feel your lungs cover with ice. And then your ears fall off and break against the pavement into a million pieces like a fine china cup. I used to cry almost every time I had to go anywhere. Literally, I went grocery shopping with tears running down my cheeks.

As a student and a tourist, all we could afford was a small basement bachelor apartment, where windows would get covered with ice – on the inside, and where spiders would be hanging from the ceiling, and where I could tell whether the neighbour taking a leak was standing or sitting on the toilet, judging by the sound. Yes.

I hated it. We were poor, cold, friendless…

And then, of course, spring arrived and all of a sudden there were tulips and irises blooming everywhere, and Montreal won my heart with a whirlwind of festivals – fireworks, jazz, beer, blues, green sculptures, Formula 1, just for laughs… you name it! And then I got a nice job. And found new, dear friends. I fell in love with Montreal. I fell in love with Canada.


We applied for immigration, got evaluated based on a set of criteria such as education, work experience, languages (English and French), age – and became Canadians. And then the guy and I split our ways. And even though moving to Canada had been his decision, I happily stayed here.

Did that answer your question,?

A keen listener would notice that “Why Canada?” remains unanswered. I didn’t choose to come here. It was a chance meeting. But it changed my life. And I am loving it.