Q is for Quest




Otherwise what’s the point of doing it at all?!

I know what makes me happy (no amount of time, energy spent or the complexity of the task) – cooking, baking, crating in the kitchen makes me the happiest. And then of course having guests in my home and sharing it all.

Today was a full day of Easter meal baking and cooking, 9 hours spent in the kitchen, I’m tired but happy. It’s all wort it!

6 years ago, right in the beginning of my gluten free lifestyle quest, I was questioning if I ever enjoy dessert again. Today it’s not even a question. And I don’t even have to schlep to a health food store or a fancy gluten free bakery. I can make anything I want gluten free, and I can make it so good that people won’t even question if it’s gluten free or gluten filled, they just enjoy it. You can say my mission is complete, and my quest is over, but quest assumes a journey. And I don’t want this one to be over, I want it to continue till the day I die. Or I guess till I can still stand and mix some things up in the kitchen.

There are still things to learn, desserts to make and sample, people to invite over (I can skip washing the dishes though).

Wishing you all a very Happy and Joyous Easter Celebration!




Q is for quest and for quality gluten free desserts created in my kitchen today.


Blueberry Upside Down Almond-Coconut Cake




Chocolate Tart with Berry Almond Whipped Cream and Fresh Berries


P is for Pink





I believe in everything Pink, as it’s not just the color, it’s an attitude!

I believe in girls who wear Pink and can kick your butt!

I believe you can put a flirty Pink dress on and still look classy, smart and sophisticated!

I believe that unconditional love is full of soft Pink light and shines through in a constant gentle wave towards others.

I believe that Pink strawberries and cream, if shared in bed with somebody significant, is still a far better dessert than any decadent culinary confection.

I believe a crisp cotton shirt in a pale Pink color will make any man look stylish and attractive.

I believe in bright red lipstick at night and soft Pink lips in the morning.

I believe in Pink diamonds and Pink roses, and a man who’ll take time to learn it, will forever have my heart.







P is for Pink and for making this pink recipe




Chocolate Tartlets with Strawberry Almond Whipped Cream and Berries


O is for OMG





OMG is exactly what I said when I read this article from USA Today (plus I laced it with a lot of heavy expletives, in both English and Russian).


The article talks about a leaflet that was published in the Eastern Ukraine that orders Jews to register their nationality/religion along with their property and other assets – “or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated”.

This cannot be happening in the world! Not again! Have we not learned yet that some history absolutely cannot repeat itself?! I’m pretty sure some similar notes German Jews received in the 1930s right in the beginning of the Nazi regime. And I know these kind of notes were distributed in the 1940s when Kharkov (the city I was born in) and the whole Ukraine was occupied by the Nazi troops, when my great-grandparents were forced to register and my great-grandfather (a gentle soul and a very talented city jeweler) was subsequently tortured by the Nazi (luckily he survived).

I was raised in a country where antisemitism was widespread and covertly accepted (if not even encouraged), where every Soviet citizen had to register their ethnicity/nationality right in their passport (along with all the marriages, divorces and a number of children), along with the complete information for your parents (no matter your age), such privilege as private information simply didn’t exist in the Soviet Union. And now, in the middle of the country upheaval and restructuring, facing a possible Civil War between the pro-Russian and pro-Western regions and supporters, it seems like the very worst and disturbing facts of history that we thought are long gone and learned from are raising their disgusting head again.

I’ve spent my entire adult life in the US, and such ugly examples seem unthinkable by now. I can’t imagine of having to “register” for anything except maybe my desire to vote. I  come from a mixed family, my mother’s side is Jewish, and my father’s side is Orthodox Christian, it’d have been a “tough call”  for any registration as here in America a religion is simply a choice, and even if to go with strict religious rules, it’s still be questionable: in Judaism, your religion is determined by your mother’s side, and in Russian Orthodoxy, it’s determined by your father’s side. None of it would have mattered to the Soviets (and the Nazis), both adopted the mentality that even a drop of Jewish blood makes you Jewish. Including my son (who is Catholic). Plus I’m sure his Italian father would’ve been swept too – guilty by association.

Here in America though, we are right in the middle of Passover week, and as I’m snacking on some (gluten free) matzoh, planning this Sunday’s Easter meal (both Western and Eastern Easter are on the same day this year), I’m just happy I’m half across the world away from that antisemitic madness but also praying that somehow humanity and peace will once again prevail over hate and destruction.





O is for OMG and for something old and Russian and for making this recipe





Old Russian Summer Compote


N is for Nurturance




Did you think it’ll be one of my uplifting posts?

Sorry kids, I’m out of “fuzzies” today.

Plus we are half way through the blogging challenge, it’s kind of like a hump day (and it is Wednesday) so let’s get on my sarcastic side and talk about fails like killing a cactus.

- I did actually kill a cactus or two, and many other plants and living organisms, I have “black thumbs” instead of green, I just can’t take care of anything green and living. I did have a dog though, in my 20s, that lived into very old age. And we had fish and a turtle… But green things – no, they just die on me.

- I’m so directionally challenged, I’m surprised I don’t get lost in my own home. I get lost all the time, even with Google maps and GPS in my hand. And if you spin me around three times right in front of my home, I’ll get disoriented and lost too.

- I have more clothes and shoes than I actually remember, probably enough to sustain a small theater company. I still stand in front of a closet each morning whining “I have nothing to wear”.

- I’m so afraid of heights, I don’t even like living above the 2nd floor. Going to the Empire State Building many years ago was not fun at all!

- And I’m deathly afraid of snakes, even typing this word gives me the chills. Throughout my 20s and early 30s, I used to have almost daily nightmares about snakes. I don’t know how I survived and not developed a sleeping disorder.

- I’m NOT a morning person, at all! I wake up very grumpy and gradually work through the day to the point when I resemble and behave like a human, usually not before noon.

- One of those early grumpy morning several years ago, I decided that standing on a computer chair to reach something from the high closet shelf is just the thing to do, only to have the chair wheel away right under me, and flopping straight on my face, and having blood splashing all over… My bedroom looked like somebody was just murdered there, so did my face for two weeks, and I almost had a concussion. Did I not say I’m not a morning person?!

- As much as I’m skilled at cooking and baking, flops still happen. I just killed my food processor, I overworked it so the motor burned. I heard it was making these pathetic grinding sounds, and some smoke appeared, but I paid no attention. Now you know how most men in my life felt…



N is for nurturance (the sarcastic side of it too) and for making this recipe




Nutella wnd Strawberries Cupcakes


M is for Motherhood




It’s been almost 17 (in 3 weeks) years since I became a mother. I remember that glorious Thursday morning in May, right before Mother’s Day, when I first got to hold my son (mind you after a full day of unmedicated labor and a “give me all the drugs” decision for a C-section deep into the night). He entered the world at 2:27 am in quite a relaxed state (evidenced by both of his arms behind his head, and, thus, the necessity for the mentioned C-section – anybody else tried to push an opened umbrella out?).

And since his first breath, the push for independence and a constant authority challenge has never stopped: the poor nurse who tried to take his hand and foot prints after birth was covered in ink, as told by my mom, at only 30 minutes old, he was fighting her that hard; that “burrito style” swaddling never really worked for us – he’d let us swaddle him but only below his waist, arms had to be free to roam around; for the same token – would not sit in a play pan under any circumstances, too restrictive, but a laundry basket was OK (I have pictures to prove it); and stories too – about broken night table lamps, fingers stuck in key holes, head in a backyard fence, toys literary annihilated… So you get the picture.

But he is my miracle, the one that I get to experience over and over again every single day. And, yes, I’ve been walking right behind him all these years, not letting him fall, not even letting him feel the need that he has to lean back, I’m always there. Yet now, at the brink of his impending adulthood, facing college next year, I’ve been struggling to think how far should I step back but also knowing that I absolutely must, so he can fall once in a while or feel the urge to ask for that help.

One of the most blissful and the most fearful experiences at the same time – motherhood – the love of having and the love of letting go…






M is for motherhood, for anything mini, and for making this recipe





Mini Fruit Pies with Almond Whipped Cream


L is for Love





Yes, I know, it’s a hard one. Not to judge. We are full of opinions, our life is full of rules and regulations, the scrolls of “shoulds” and books of “must haves”.  Everybody and everything is measured against each other and a list of “the absolute truth”.

What we forget is that everybody is fighting their own battle, most of them are invisible, nobody is here just on vacation, we are all here to learn our respective lessons, some we share with others, and some particular ones are just a lesson for us. Not to judge is to offer somebody your absolute and unconditional love of full acceptance and letting the person be exactly as they are, fight their battles at their own pace or fail their lessons and, hopefully, learn from mistakes, or, if not, to receive another opportunity to finally get it right.

When my son was little, he loved to play this special “game”, he’d name some horrible crime he’d supposedly commit and ask me if I’d still love him. Over and over again, no matter which Hannibal Lecter worthy crimes he could come up with, I answered the same thing “nothing in this world, not your transgressions nor people’s opinion of you, will make me stop loving you, but I will hate the hurt that you’d bring to others or to the world”. You can insert whatever psych interpretation of what the child was trying to do with this “game”, testing the boundaries of my love (there are none), trying to learn about his own personality and the difference between right and wrong, or attempting to grasp a concept of good and evil… Your guess is as good as mine… The reason behind it was not as important to me as to instill a foundation of love into him, that every child needs to be “infused with and enveloped with” in that absolute and ever accepting unconditional parental love, so then when they are punished or denied something or put in front of some hard choices, and even though may yell out “I hate your guts”, deep inside them, that foundation of love is always there, and they’d never question or lose a grip on it.

Now, this is where, unfortunately, parental influence stops, each child needs to incorporate that love in themselves and integrate in their own view of themselves and build self esteem and self worth on it. Much easier said than done, I agree! And I agree that not all families, situations and circumstances are the same, some parents were absent, some didn’t do a good job in the love “department”, and some other children were just “hard” to love. But no matter what happened to you, the foundation of love has to be present so we love, accept and nourish ourselves first. If you think you didn’t get it or didn’t get enough, look again, it may have been you overlooked something, or maybe it was present in some other people that showed it towards you, or maybe you got it from some other unexpected sources. I think it’s your “job” to find it somewhere, somehow so you can start living with love inside and pass it on, to your children, your family, friends, people around you, things and places that make you happy and fulfilled.

Find your love, or otherwise you will lose yourself.





L is for love, for juicing some “life’s” lemons sometimes so you can make lemonade, and for checking out this recipe




(And Happy Passover to all who celebrate tonight! Make them before the sundown or wait till the week is over :))



Mixed Fruit Turnovers with Limoncello Glaze


K is for Kindness





Kindness is love with its “work boots” on – putting your love into action and showing compassion, to both others and yourself. I’ve been told way too many times that I justify people’s actions too much, that the way I behave is something beyond the modern time, and I’m about two centuries too late… Honestly, I don’t always care what other people say.

I believe in saying “please and thank you even for the most little things, and I’ll definitely get back to you, when I said I would, or I’d surely inform you otherwise”. I believe in never leaving without saying goodbye, and thank you, whether it’s till the next day or when you are exiting a relationship. I believe in letting a person speak and explain, no matter how horrible the transgression may be (the other person may need a chance to speak more than you need a reason to listen), and I believe in compassionate understanding that may not necessarily be the same as justification or condoning.

I believe there is never “too much” kindness and compassion, as so often we just don’t have enough. I’d much rather “overwhelm” somebody with kindness than leave an empty space where hurt and resentment may settle in. I want to make all possible mistakes in being gracious when others say I should’ve retaliated or “wish them dead”.

I want to live in a world where no amount of love and kindness is “too much” so it leaves no room for hate and destruction. I want to never take my “work boots” off no matter what other people think of me.






K is for kindness, treating yourself gently by nourishing your body and for making this recipe



Fruit and Kale Salad