Голубци (Golubtsy)

Golubtsy is a traditional Russian dish made with cabbage (капуста – “kapoosta”), rice (рис – “rees”), usually meat (мяса – “myasa”) although for this recipe I’ve subbed lentils (чечевица – “chechevitsa”), herbs and a tomato sauce (томатный соус – “tomatny saoose”) on top. I first tried it when a friend of mine invited me over for some Russian food… she was in her 4th year so she’d already been to Russia (she actually went to St Petersburg!). In any case, they were so delicious… we stuffed our faces and there was still enough for leftovers!!

My recipe has a couple of different parts to it. It’s still simple ingredients and fairly easy, but more fiddly than most recipes I post on here. Seriously though, don’t let that put you off – if you can, give it a try. It’s amazing!

 

Ingredients:

1 cabbage. Can be red or green. I haven’t tried using savoy cabbage yet but I think it can work too.

 

For the filling:

1 stick celery, chopped into small chunks.

1 carrot, (medium) chopped into small chunks.

1 cup red lentils, washed.

1/4 tin chopped tomatoes

1/4 carton of pasata (or just use another 1/4 tin chopped tomatoes)

2 tbsp tomato puree

1 onion (I used red)

2-3 garlic cloves

~ 1 tbsp each Italian herbs, basil, oregano, ground coriander

4-5 mushrooms, chopped small (optional but I used them).

generous splash red wine vinegar

1 cup cooked brown rice (can use white).

 

For the topping:

4 tbsp. Tomato Puree.

8 tbsp natural unsweetened soy yogurt (I used a brand called Sojade from my local health food shop)

2 tbsp olive oil. (Optional)

 

Method:

  1. Put the rice on – I rinse it first then add one cup of rice and 2 cups of water and let it cook until there’s hardly any water in the pan when you stir it, then turn it off and let the rest steam off.
  2. Meanwhile, saute onion and garlic in a pan (I used some water to do this but you can use oil if you want).
  3. When these have browned, add the lentils and chopped veggies (carrots, mushrooms, celery.
  4. Add the tomatoes and the puree and stir in well. Leave to simmer until the veggies are soft and the lentils are cooked. Should take 15-20 mins.
  5. Last of all add the red wine vinegar (generous splash!) and the herbs. Turn off and remove from the heat.
  6. Before step 5 – bring a large saucepan full of water to the boil. Chop the heart out of the cabbage – this is the stem. Cut around it but angle the knife so you cut the whole stem bit out. Then put it (carefully) into the boiling water.
  7. After about 5 mins, carefully remove the cabbage and peel the first few leaves off. They should be really flexible but not fully cooked/soggy. Put the cabbage back into the water and repeat this step until you have most of the bigger outer leaves done. Run them under cold water to stop the cooking process and keep to one side.
  8. Once the rice and the lentils have cooled a bit, mix the lentil mix with half of the rice together in one pan. You might not need all of the rice – you’re aiming to disperse the lentil mix evenly but not make it too sparse with the rice.
  9. Pre-heat the oven to 180c / 350f.
  10. Take your first cabbage leaf and lay it out in front of you.
  11. Spoon about 1 tbsp of the rice-lentil mix into the bowl part of the leaf. Bend the stalk bit over it as tightly as you can, and then fold both sides of the cabbage leaf in tightly on top of that. Then roll the rounded package bit forwards to the end of the leaf. It should form a little package.
  12. Repeat this until the mix is gone / you run out of cabbage leaves. Place the finished rolls on grease proof paper on a baking tray and put to one side.
  13. For the sauce: Mix the tomato puree and the oil in a pan on a low heat until smooth. Add the yogurt and stir until smooth and warm. Remove from heat and pour generously over the cabbage rolls on the baking sheet.
  14. Bake in the oven for 25-35 mins until the sauce has set and the cabbage leaves have browned evenly. They should be really soft and easy to cut into. If they aren’t then put them in the oven for another 5-10 mins. If you’re worried they’ll get too brown or burn, try cooking them in the microwave for a few minutes instead to finish them off.
  15. Remove and eat! You can serve these with buckwheat too 🙂

 

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January blues – the highs and lows of uni life.

Exam week. I don’t know about you but – I don’t like exams. And after having what was probably my best Christmas ever… getting dumped back in Exeter is a bit of a downer!

….Buuut it’s finally over!! I had 5 exams, unlike most people, and 3 out of 5 of those went really badly. We’ll see when results come out, eh? I honestly don’t get how chilled out they are about preparing for exams at uni. During my A-Levels, we did two to three essays a week. At uni, we do formatives… which might just be an essay plan or just the introduction. Or maybe a short commentary. Either way… that’s all the prep you get. Unless you’re super keen or an absolute BEAST and can somehow find the time to do test essays in your own steam.

This is probably really boring but I’m gonna explain what I did to revise, because this blog is kinda for the students out there.

1/ Basically I do ‘smart’ revision. In other words, I pick the stuff I know I will need to know, or that I know are my weak areas, and start there. If I plan it right, I usually cover everything, but if I don’t get that far, then I’ve at least covered the key areas.

Also… I never consider an exam ‘lost’ and stop revising even if it’s the hour right before the exam. NO exam is lost. Any revision you can do before or in advance COUNTS. Especially if you target key areas. Say you have tonnes of books to just read. Don’t try and read them from cover to cover. Just look at the contents page and pick the chapters that are relevant and read those. Or parts of them. This tip is kind of a 2 in 1.

2/ I look at past exam papers. I don’t necessarily do them, but looking at them and even at the mark scheme really helps. If there are some titles I don’t think I could write an essay on under pressure then I might have a go at mind-mapping everything I know related to that title and then try and read up on those areas.

3/ This one mainly applies to history modules etc. I make a time line. My A level history teacher frowned upon it saying it would make me narrate events in chronological order. Obviously DON’T do that… but it helps me (personally) to get the key dates in my head and memorise them in relation to one another, i.e. one thing led into another thing… and so on. Because you associate one event with another event, it helps you memorise it.

4/ Figure out your learning style. I’ve probably mentioned this in a previous post but take a free online test and find out if you are a visual, kinesthetic, aural or traditional learner. Do you need colours, do you need to hear it over and over again, do you need to write it out… etc.

5/ TAKE BREAKS. Even if it means watching a silly YouTube video for 10 mins.

6/ Exercise. This could literally be just going for a walk. This week I went most evenings for a little walk near where I live. When I’m at home, I go and bounce on the trampoline for an hour or so before bed.

7/ Eat well. I know most students live on pot noodles and pasta… but add some veggies and your body will thank you. It’s easy to get run down, so make sure you’re getting lots of nutrients in and not just coffee!! And revising uses a lot of mental energy… so you will probably feel quite hungry!

That’s all I can think of for now. Hope this helps someone!!

Anyway… back to general life stuff… I feel like I’m getting back into the swing of things. My room is my little house (obviously). It has everything I need and use in it… All my books and some of my food things that won’t fit into my kitchen space. But everything has it’s little place and what with all of my colourful revision posters and mind-maps it just looks really cool. Yeah just complimenting myself I guess 😉 All about that positive outlook!

Term starts on Monday, so I’ll probably begin reading and doing (more) Russian grammar. Oh and my application for St Petersburg is in and I’ve paid the deposit… I’m officially GOING. AHHH 🙂 I still need to figure out flights and a visa and insurance, but it’s actually happening and you have no idea how excited I am! I’m gonna post my first Russian recipe shortly so watch this space!! I made голубци (golubtsii) – they are like stuffed fig leaves but made with cabbage. Please don’t let that put you off though they honestly taste really good!!

Oh yeah and over Christmas I passed my driving test! I look pretty gormless in this picture but I was so happy I didn’t care 🙂 

Anyway, until next time!! до скорого!

Hello 2017: Resolutions?

Hey all, I hope you’ve all had a great Christmas and New Year. I certainly have. It’s probably been my best one ever… and that means a lot I can tell you!

Even a couple of years ago I was struggling with an eating disorder and Raynauds (poor circulation) which meant winter was bitterly cold for me, and this made me so miserable, not including the fact that I was a shadow of myself. So now, it’s a new year, the start of my second whole year free of those things. I can’t tell you how much joy I feel in contrast to how I felt before… it’s just a deep sense that life is really worth living now.

So – you’re probably wondering if I’ve made any resolutions. I’m not really one of those people that does that… but instead what I do is pray and name my year. Just one word, and it’s the theme that I expect for that year. I heard about this concept in a podcast from Life Church (in Bradford) and have been using it these last few years. My 18th year (2014) was my year of Freedom, when I finally kicked my eating disorder to the dirt and began to truly accept myself for who I was. My 19th year (2015) was my year of Discovery. I discovered myself again – my strengths and weaknesses, my smile and laugh (I used to be so depressed that I could go for months without really laughing or smiling). I discovered that I can cope alone without my parents at uni in the Big Wide World. (Mostly!). And now for this year; 2017.

2017 is my year of Adventure. I don’t know what that means yet. It probably has something to do with the fact that, this time next year, I’ll have been living in St. Petersburg, Russia, for about 4 months. Scary, I know. But I’ll keep you all updated with plenty of my ramblings and pictures I promise 🙂

All I know is that I have a gut feeling this year will be a year where I step out of my comfort zone even more than before. Even more than I dared to think would be possible for me.

My Dad and I walked to the top of the Worcester Beacon (Malvern Hills).


Term two is around the corner (I go back on Saturday morning!) and I am dreading exam week next week, honestly where does the time go?? I’m going to miss the kitten and our cat Tigger, my family, my friends; but then I have friends to go back to so that eases the anticipation a bit. This term will be long and hard – I don’t get a reading week in the middle. So I’m going to have to be careful with myself and not overdo things.

[obligatory kitten pics!]


The amount of books in my room right now is ridiculous, I have about 7 for each module, and another couple for each language I’m doing.

The best thing is my parents and grandparents put together to get me a Kindle Fire for Christmas so now I can buy my coursebooks cheaply and have them all in one place – to save me crating home a whole box-ful every end of term!! (No joke – a whole box).

Anyway, I digress (as usual!) Tangents are my speciality 😉

So yeah, I’m excited for 2017. I’m sure I’m not the only one!

(Let me know in the comments what you’re most excited for!)