Virginia Zacharieva’s books
This is a book about standing up for your own choices.
A handbook for loving yourself. A book about our debt to pleasure.
Nine Rabbits is a story about life as wakefulness at every moment.
Nine Rabbits tells two stories, that of a six-year-old girl, and of her grown-up self: Manda grows up on the Black Sea coast, raised by her tyrannical grandmother. А raw, funny and magical tale about childhood. Forty years later on, we find Manda become a woman. In her difficult process of awakening, every shattering of childhood matrices frees up space for spontaneity, creativity and love.
This is a book about standing up for your own choices.
A handbook for loving yourself. A book about our debt to pleasure.
Nine Rabbits is a story about life as wakefulness at every moment.
The book Nine rabbits is translated by Angela Rodel with the support of EKF. Edited in UK (Istros books 2012) and published In USA (Black balloon 2014)
The book Nine rabbits is nominated for the literary awards Helicon and Eduard Vik and is the most sold out Bulgarian book for 2008
Nine Rabbits of Virginia Zaharieva is included on the Notable Books List by the American Library Association’s Notable Books Council
Nine rabbits is included in the list of the American Library Association’s Notable Books List and is the first Bulgarian female fiction book translated in North America
Virginia Zaharieva was born in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 1959. She is a writer, psychotherapist, feminist, and mother. Her novel Nine Rabbits is among the most celebrated Bulgarian books to appear over the past two decades and first Bulgarian female author translated in North America. Virginia Zaharieva is also the author of Virginias – a collection that brings together four of her poetry books and a compilation of essays – Mercy of Small Mirrors.
Angela Rodel is an award-winning translator. Born and educated in the United States with degrees in linguistics from Yale and the University of California, Los Angeles, she currently resides in Sofia, Bulgaria.
The book Nine Rabbits tells the story of a six-year-old girl and a 46-year-old woman. Manda, the little girl, grows up during the height of socialism in the 1960s, raised by her tyrannical grandmother. А raw, funny and magical tale about childhood. Through adventures and horror stories, the reader shares the complicated path of a child determined to explore the world. Manda survives the lopsided battle with her grandmother, who is also waging open and covert wars with life, with the eternally absent grandfather, with their youngest children and with the workmen finishing up the family home along the Black Sea coast.
In the second part, 40 years later that same child has become a woman, now living in democratic times and racked by an identity crisis. Manda has swallowed up her tyrannical grandmother, turning that despotism against herself. In the heroine’s difficult process of awakening, every shattering of childhood matrices frees up space for spontaneity, creativity and love. The text bristles with insights that strike the heroine as a result of her concrete experiences, come to her in dreams or are overheard in the ringing of Buddhist bells. Nine Rabbits is a book about The Way and the fermentation to which life subjects each of us. The geographic leaps – Paris, Osaka, Sofia, remote villages, Dominica, Lisbon, Moscow, St. Petersburg and Vienna – merely serve as a pretext for journeys within the heroine’s soul. Just as in the first part, the tragic and the comic, the beautiful and the ugly naturally coexist. They accompany Manda’s attempts to cope with modern living, with her taste for luxury, love and spiritual growth. Most of the episodes in the second half show the heroine in various emotional conditions and experiencing archetypal processes such as fear, shame, PMS, divorce, marriage, forgiveness, aging, death and finally love and creative work as salvation for a wounded soul.
In the second half, for Manda the world gradually transforms into a Divine Kitchen, where out of a mixture of characters, places, ingredients and situations she creates delicious dishes. The reader is rewarded for all the pain and suffering with dancing, harmony and abundance. While the first half sticks to the classical narrative of the past, the second part captures the pulse of the present. The work is rich in literary genres and forms, containing elements of scripture, diary, memoir, poetry and journalism, which define Nine Rabbits as a hybrid novel.
Nine Rabbits contains 29 recipes. They are very important stylistic sensory instructions, a form of reality that calms and nourishes the furious text as well as the hungry reader.
“Zaharieva packs several genres into one, including but not limited to pastoral idyll, sexual coming-of-age story, and feminist memoir. Ultimately, she presents life in all its messiness and possibility, vivid enough for the reader to almost taste.” — Publishers Weekly
“There are plenty of weird, unforgettable moments in the book, a sense of absurd and real wit and humor on many pages…Zaharieva has something to tell us and she has all technical means at her command to tell her story in an interesting, intelligent even enticing way… This is also a feminist book, a book that shows the failure of many man to really attach themselves to their wives and families. But it is definitely not the book of a man – hater, but a rather compassionate person”. Tomas Hubner
“Gutsy, fresh and vivid, this story of one woman’s brave quest through life will take you on a wild ride.” — Kapka Kassabova, author of Street Without a Name and Twelve Minutes of Love
“Virginia Zaharieva’s book Nine Rabbits is sort of a “notebook” written by a female representative of an urban, well traveled, educated and emancipated generation of now middle-aged Bulgarians. Zaharieva records her life with ease: fragments about her childhood, her adulthood, her professional and intimate life and her travels flow effortlessly and gently. What makes this book exceptionally pleasant is Zaharieva’s vitality, her guiltless hunger for life, for every bit of it. It’s a happy book about a happy personal life.” Dubravka Ugrešić, Author of Karaoke Culture and The Ministry of Pain
“Nine Rabbits by Virginia Zaharieva ranks among the most important Bulgarian books to appear in the past two decades … …A unique women’s handbook for coping with modern life that drives home the singular importance of the individual person. Her example doesn’t say ‘Follow me,’ but rather ‘Become an example yourself!’ …The childhood pages are among the most powerful ever written in Bulgarian. Nine Rabbits represents the noisy return of the writer to the literary stage. …The book is among the boldest experiments in our contemporary literature.…Without digging a grave for Bulgarian literature, Virgina Zaharieva’s talented, searching and hyperactive book proclaims the bankruptcy of the purely literary endeavor. With this work she challenges everyone who has the energy, will, optimism and naivety to believe that there is salvation in this big world of ours and that it is lurking around every corner.” Kultura – Dimitar Kamburov – Literary critic, scholar and Fulbright fellow
“This is powerful, controlled writing.” — Rain Taxi
“Characters are portrayed in a stark light exposing their neediness, their unflattering traits, and, as the novel progresses, their hard-fought wisdom. . . It’s rare for me to recommend a novel on the strength of its wisdom, but time and again I found myself nodding appreciably as Manda moves towards a uniquely feminine Zen understanding of herself.” — Heavy Feather Review
“A remarkable, untraditional novel about a universal story: one woman’s quest to create—and maintain—her own identity… Told through a series of beautifully written short chapters, Nine Rabbits is a moving tale of one woman’s struggle to identify not as one part of herself, but as a whole, complex being. While the novel certainly addresses some heavy topics, Zaharieva moves through each scene with the ease of an old friend sharing stories over a long, boozy dinner, making Nine Rabbits read more like a memoir than a novel, and making Manda seem less like a character and more like the fully-realized woman she strives to be.” — Cedar Rapids Gazette
“I know of few books that explore the workings of psychological and cultural legacies as fearlessly… The boldness of Nine Rabbits is expressed in its narrative virtuosity as well, for it blends memoir, recipes, alternative endings, references to popular Western culture, koans, dreams, diary entries and verse.” — Rob Neufeld, The Asheville Citizen-Times
“One moment there is past-tense prose and the next we meet the startling present in poetry, stream-of-consciousness, and the most well-timed recipes ever to grace a novel. Zaharieva’s prose reads like a reverie and translator Angela Rodel maintains authenticity with her mastery of slang equivalents, partly responsible for the total lack of boundaries between page and reader. We are under the waves with Manda, from beginning to end, unable to separate ourselves from her clear, brutal vision of the ‘Great Experiment’ of her life.” — Curbside Splendor
“Nine Rabbits is a heady mixture of genres and styles which approaches a new form of expression.Traditional European writing, in comparison with this thoroughly Balkan work, appears more than a little tired and derivative. Nine Rabbits brings with it a powerful sense of the genuinely mysterious and exotic as the narrator interweaves her experience of a wide range of different cultures, traditions and assumptions. At the same time, it celebrates the individual, and in cutting-edge style the universality of human female experience. – Siân Miles
“For a short volume, ‘9 Rabbits’ certainly covers a lot of ground…If living is an art form, then it’s the obsessive struggle to capture this in literature that forms the spine of ‘9 Rabbits’. It’s the fact that Zaharieva succeeds that makes the read so special”. – Richard W Jackson
“Lyrical and magical…Filled with nostalgia, [the novel’s] recipes beg to be made. Eccentric instructions and all.” — Pop-Break ):
I turned up in the seaside town of Nesebar—an inconvenient four-year-old grandchild. My grandmother was raising the last two of her six children, putting the finishing touches on the house, ordering the workmen around, and doing some of the construction work herself. Tanks God for this, as it used up some of her monstrous energy. Otherwise who knows what would’ve become of me.
Klement and Maruna, the runts of the litter, were rarely at home, since they went to boarding schools in Burgas. My aunt studied agriculture, while my uncle was at the nautical school.
Whenever I disappeared for long stretches somewhere inside the house, you could bet that I was in the attic, where there were a dozen big chests full of shoes, dresses, and all sorts of accessories brought from Czechoslovakia, where the family had prospered. Grandma Nikula and Grandpa Boris—“the Czechs,” as they were called—had worked in the glass factories of Bohemia between 1948 and 1958, during the most optimistic years of the Klement Gottwald regime.
Nikula’s father had been a cloth trader, so she had an eye for materials and colors. In Czechoslovakia she had sewn dresses for herself and her daughters and had even managed to marry o her oldest girl in Prague at the age of eighteen.
Nikula truly did dress with taste, although she only did so now when we went to the movies or when she stumped for the Communist Party’s Fatherland Front in the nearby villages.
She took me with her. Where could she leave me? I stood in front of the podium and watched her. When she got up in front of the masses, my grandmother was very beautiful and convincing. I was proud of her; she always managed to slip in something from her own heroic biography that made her speech entertaining. For example, when she was eight months pregnant with my uncle, she helped the brigades build the Hainboaz Pass in the Balkan Mountains and was a Shock-worker despite her huge belly.
Now, absorbed in building the house, she didn’t have the time or occasion to parade around in her dresses. So they all belonged to me.
The attic was plastered with a mixture of sheep manure, ne straw, and dark red clay. The scent of turds and dust accompanied my odysseys through 1950s fashion in front of a large cracked mirror, illuminated by the single skylight in the roof. First, I would put on a black satin slip with lace trim. Then I would add white silk petticoats. Next came the colorful flowered dresses—tailored at the waist, flared at the bottom. They either had straps, were backless, or had plunging necklines. Trembling, I would try them on one by one. e shoes had solid heels, open backs and another little opening at the tip of the toes. I climbed up onto the high heels and was beautiful. Dolled up like this, I would spend hours enraptured by the family treasures. Once I even found a pistol. I showed it to Rufi , my friend from next door, and then hid it again in a different spot. Grandma and Grandpa fought a lot, and I was afraid that they’d end up shooting each other some evening.
I shared the attic with giant nesting seagulls who yielded their territory to me with a squawk. At that time I hadn’t yet seen Hitchcock’s e Birds, so I studied the eggs in the nest without a thought for the mother lurking outside. During some important surveillance mission, I would hear my grandma’s raspy voice: “Where are you, girl? Saraaa, Pepaaa, Marunaaa, Klemooo, Ivaaan, Veraaa!” Once she finished reeling o her children’s names, completely furious, she’d hit upon my name and bark, “Mandaaaa, I’mgonnatearoutyourhair, get down from there this instaaaant!” Sometimes I thought my name was I’mgonnatearoutyourhair. “How many times have I told you not to rummage around in the attic?”
Her voice echoed through the shaft leading up to the attic. It was a difficult place to climb up to. I counted on this while hiding among the chests, but sometimes she was so mad that she’d climb up the ladder, huffing and puffing. A wild chase around the rafters would ensue; “You little turd,” and “Brat” were her war cries. At first it was fun, but the fun soon ended. She would beat me with whatever was at hand—a belt, a hanger, an umbrella—and then she’d collapse, exhausted, onto some heap of clothing while I quickly escaped. I would come back late, hoping she would be asleep, but she would be lurking by the door to smack me again: this time for good-night.
Tomorrow Arman turns forty. What can I give him when he already has everything? He is a working actor and heir to a rich family.
I’ll give him myself.
I go and buy a black corset with garters, stockings, and the most whorish pair of red high heels in order to erotically jumpstart our snoozing seven-year-old married life. That evening we go to another birthday party at the luxurious home of a famous poet and critic. The literary moguls hover around her. Fattened investors with connections to her husband—the minister of heavy industry—are milling around nearby. I’ve put on the corset, I’m not wearing panties under my luxuriant skirts, and, while we discuss the problems of hermeneutics and the third phenomenological reduction, to maintain erotic tension I discreetly masturbate on the armrest of a chair in which sits the director of the Institute for Contemporary Art.
I’m terribly tempted to strip down to my corset. Nobody realizes how close I am to acting on my fixation. These guys are obsessed with expressing themselves. I imagine how their dicks are hanging despondently in the darkness of their pants, having drained all their eroticism in the direction of tongues hopelessly entangled in perfidious analysis. Thus we get sloshed without realizing it. Especially Arman. What’s gotten into him? I can’t stand it any longer and pull my girlfriend into the bathroom to show her. I hike up my skirt and she just about wets herself. We giggle and whisper. People try to force the door from the outside, give up and run to piss in the courtyard. After midnight, having managed to pick fights with half the illustrious critics, which further inflames the intellectual lust of the evening, I leave with my husband, who has already staggered into his fortieth year. We brush our teeth together and gloat over some of the evening’s details. He stumbles his way toward the bedroom, while I remain in the bathroom to freshen up and put the finishing touches on my plan. I come out in my full regalia. In this get-up, I leave our apartment, slam the door and go to the landing between floors where I had earlier hidden 59a huge bouquet of Bordeaux chrysanthemums. Flowers in hand, I ring the doorbell to complete the delivery.
I stand there in my red high heels, corset, stockings, bare ass and beaver, my top half hidden behind the Bordeaux. I deeply inhale the aroma of the graveyard—for that’s how I view chrysanthemums. They are my teachers in the love of life. I prick up my ears to catch the sound of movement from inside the door. Nothing. I ring again. Silence. Just the moist graveyard fragrance and the stoicism of my red high heels.
How could I have slammed the door shut? I ring again. I can’t believe it—yet another stumble into the absurd.
Arman slumbers away drunk and aesthetically exhausted from hours of verbal battles. I pull over my neighbor’s coconut welcome mat and sit down gingerly as it pricks my skin. Three o’clock in the morning. He’s sleeping the deep hearty sleep of a man of forty and I’m sitting bare-assed on the steps in front of my own apartment, my pussy hanging out for anyone to see.
Pounding on the door and yelling isn’t an option. How could I explain to the neighbor, the wife of the chief prosecutor of the Republic of Bulgaria? The terror of humiliating myself.
Ringing the doorbell discreetly at length seems stupid and exhausting.
All of a sudden I am terribly tired from this autoerotic exertion. I just want to end these theatrics and go to bed. The last thing I remember is the feeling of my bare legs under my light-blue flannel bunny pajamas.
The prosecutor goes to play tennis in the morning and finds me asleep in this rather undesirable pose on his very own coconut doormat, covered in Bordeaux chrysanthemums.
I walk down the stairs, because the elevator is broken, and inevitably pass by the bodyguard of the Head of Parliament who lives on the second floor. The bodyguard gives me his overcoat in exchange for a blowjob after which I go to my mother’s, to whom I have no idea what to say.
I go down to the second floor, where at that very moment terrorists are kidnapping the Head of Parliament. I am the cherry on top of the whole story, transformed into a compromising figure. I make the front page of the newspapers in my corset.
In this naughty get-up, I ring the doorbell of my third-floor neighbor, whom I find very sexy, crossing my fingers that his lover hasn’t decided to sleep over.
Covered up in the bodyguard’s overcoat, I go back to the home of the critic and her husband, the Minister of Heavy Industry, since they at least have a sense for the absurd. They give me a T-shirt that reads Touch me and we go to bed together.
Screaming and pounding, I hurl myself at our door, waking up the entire luxury apartment building, and when all the important neighbors start arriving, Arman sleepily opens the door, murmurs, “Oh, is it you?” and wanders back to bed.
Around noon he mischievously leans in close to me and quietly asks, “Uh, was I dreaming last night or did it seem to me that you were dressed in a rather unusual outfit?”
“Ooh, you were dreaming,” I tell him, and roll over onto my other side. The corset was packed away. When I leave my husband years later, I start wearing it out to nightclubs in combination with blue Chinese coveralls, with men’s patent-leather Prada’s underneath, and the corset on top of everything with its garters hanging free of stockings.
-If possible, prepare your food yourself.
-Don’t eat food left over from yesterday.
-Cook so that the ingredients don’t lose their color.
-Make sure to have at least five colors in your dish.
-When you cook, cook; when you eat, eat.
Take a pound of potatoes, one and a quarter sticks of butter and a half-teaspoon of whole cumin seeds.
Cut each medium-sized potato into four or five large pieces. The water should reach to three-quarters the height of the potatoes. Add a little salt. Crank up the burner at first, let the mixture boil for about five minutes, then reduce it to the lowest heat. Cover with a lid. This steams the potatoes, opening their cells and making room for the butter. When the water has almost boiled off and there is less than half a centimeter left in the pot, it’s time for the whole cumin seeds (or dill, if the potatoes are fresh). Where there’s butter, there’s always room for seasoning. And now comes the time for the shaking. Grasp the pot firmly by both handles and the lid and shake it, letting the shaking start from your ass and flow throughout your whole body like belly dancing. The pot ends up on the periphery of the shaking, where the vibrations are more delicate, exactly right for steamed potatoes swimming in butter. Keep shaking and exhale downward toward the earth through your legs, because otherwise you just might fly off somewhere right along with the potatoes-and after such scents that just wouldn’t be fair to the hungry inhabitants of the house. Return the pot to the heat for a few seconds to let it bubble up again and then repeat the shaking procedure several times, so that the fluffiest upper layer of potato collapses, laying bare new space for the butter to seep into. Czech steamed potatoes go well with salad, but are also a wonderful side dish for oven-baked cabbage, fish, or meat. Steamed potatoes are especially well suited to chicken livers with onion (Grandma’s recipe again).
Take three medium-sized onions, a pound of chicken livers, four medium tomatoes, black pepper, butter, and two hot peppers.
Sauté the onions in butter along with the finely chopped hot peppers until they grow pink. Add the chicken livers, cut in half or smaller, then stir them with the onions for just a few minutes before adding the already-thickened sauce from the grated tomatoes. Follow by adding black pepper and salt, and let it all simmer together for three more minutes.
Mix a cup of milk with four medium-sized grated raw potatoes, four cloves of garlic, parsley, two eggs, a dash of baking soda on the tip of the spoon, salt, and flour. Keep adding flour until the mixture resembles thin porridge.
In the Rhodopes Arse-end potatoes are still cooked in the traditional way, in an earthenware dish. It is crucial to get your hands on such a pan, with low sides and a thick bottom, glazed, if possible. Peel the potatoes and cut them in half lengthwise, put a spoonful or two of oil in the bottom of the pan, and arrange the half-potatoes with the arse-end up. Sprinkle them with a thread of oil, salt, and a little paprika for color. Bake them in a preheated oven for around ten minutes until the tops grow rosy, then place them over a low fire. This fries the potatoes from below, bakes them on top and steams them in the middle. A delicious reddish crust forms on both sides, while the inside turns to purée.
Over the years, after planting my own rosemary, I’ve elaborated on this recipe. I now grease the bottom of the pan with olive oil and sprinkle it with crushed rosemary needles. I cut the potatoes lengthwise, into slices no more than 8 mm thick, and arrange them like roof tiles. On top, I add another thread of olive oil, crushed rosemary, and a pinch of hot red pepper to make them smile. The baking principle is the same as with arse-end potatoes. Afterward, it’s like eating Bibles: with your fingers, page by page-the scent of a shrine, of holiness.
Boil the potatoes in the evening, and on the next day peel them and grate them using a fine grater. Add two eggs, flour, and a bit of semolina to make dough that won’t stick to your hands. Form it into small balls wrapped around the pitted fruit. Bring salted water to a boil, then stretch cheesecloth across the pot and secure it with an elastic band. Place four to five dumplings on top of the cheesecloth and cover with a lid. Steam the dumplings for 20-25 minutes. Dissolve cinnamon and sugar in butter and pour the sauce over the finished dumplings, or add poppy seeds and sugar to the butter as desired.
Take one packet of dry yeast, one cup of flour, one cup of semolina, one cup of milk, one egg, and one tablespoon sugar.
Mix the yeast, sugar, several spoonfuls of warm milk, and one to two spoonfuls of flour and set aside to allow the mixture to rise. Once it has risen, add the remaining flour and semolina. Stir the egg and a pinch of salt into the remaining milk and add it to the mixture. Knead the stiff dough and let it rise for an hour. Then, knead it again and shape it into a long loaf. Cut it into three or four pieces like small rolls. Wrap them in a clean towel and let them rise for twenty minutes. Drop them into boiling salted water and let them cook for five minutes covered with a lid. Then remove the lid, flip the dumplings over, and finish boiling them in an open pot for five more minutes. After removing them from the pot, pierce the boiled dumplings in several places and cut them into slices with a strong thread. Serve them with roasted meat, gravy, and oven-baked cabbage. As with the potato dumplings, you can wrap fruit in the dough and drizzle it with butter, sugar and cinnamon, or poppy seeds.
Soft-boil five or six eggs very lightly-for no more than two minutes. During that time, put slices of black bread through the toaster twice, so that they become hard, and quickly cut them into little squares no larger than a half-inch. Put a stick of butter sliced into chunks on the warm bits of bread-the bowl should also be warmed. Salt the mixture and toss the peeled eggs on top. Stir carefully until the bread is lacquered with egg. This way, the sulfuric taste of the boiled egg is hidden behind the scent of the butter and the toasted black bread. If the eggs are fresh from the farm, all the better. Little lacquered squares. Orange ones!
Serve with a cup of hot coffee after making love in bed. Follow with cuddling and deep sleep.
Mash up half a handful of blue cheese with the same amount of cottage cheese. Spread the mixture on a toasted slice of black bread and top with large chunks of baked eggplant, seasoned only with salt and olive oil. A glass of red wine will open it up.
In one quart of salted water, thoroughly boil a finely chopped head of celery, three carrots, one pepper, three onions, and two green onions. Strain out the vegetables. In this broth, bring the juice of five grated tomatoes to a boil, along with two nests of vermicelli, a sugar cube (to soften the tomatoes’ tart taste), a small cone of incense crushed into powder, and whole basil leaves. Can be served with grated cheese.
Whole cauldrons simmered, especially on holidays, no matter what the season. If it wasn’t fasting time, the nuns would add cheese to the soup. On the table stood small pots of hot pepper paste, which Sister Evdokia concocted all by herself.
Boil a pound of finely chopped, extremely hot peppers in two cups of water. Mash through a sieve. Add the following to the resulting purée: a half-cup of brandy, three spoonfuls of sugar, the juice of one lemon, salt, and, if needed, another cup of water. The sauce can be seasoned with finely chopped basil or ground cumin, as desired.
Take five ounces of rose petals. Prepare a thin syrup from half a quart of water and two pounds of sugar, boiling it until it thickens slightly; add the rose petals and simmer for a bit. When the mixture thickens, add one teaspoon of citric acid mixed with a small amount of lukewarm water. After five minutes, remove the jam from the heat and pour into warmed jars.
Gather only the tips of the nettles. Wash them thoroughly in water. Around a pound is enough for one quart of water. Let the water come to a boil with a pinch of salt and then add the nettles. Continue to boil uncovered for five minutes so they don’t blacken. Add a bit of butter and mint and serve with feta cheese as desired.
Finely slice two pounds of nettles and cook them in one and a half cups of water for five minutes on high and five minutes on low. Brown three tablespoons of flour in a pan until it becomes golden. Add a packet of butter to the flour and gradually combine it with the nettles.
Finely slice two pounds of nettles and cook them in one and a half cups of water for five minutes on high and five minutes on low. Brown three tablespoons of flour in a pan until it becomes golden. Add a packet of butter to the flour and gradually combine it with the nettles. Stir the mixture until it becomes a full, thick porridge. For a more attractive presentation, it can be served with a fried egg on top and sprinkled with feta cheese, mint, and crushed walnuts.
Make a dish of fruit. Peeled pears, mangoes, and lychees are the most suitable, as well as strawberries, raspberries, cherries, and melon.
Carefully arrange the slices on your lover’s body and eat them slowly. From time to time share the taste of the fruit with your lover.
This snack is refreshing and sharpens the skin’s sensitivity.
Boil two pounds of beef breast in two quarts of water. Strain the broth and separate the meat from the bone. Sauté five cloves of ground garlic in three tablespoons of olive oil until they release their aroma, then add half a head of celery, two onions, one small beetroot, two carrots, and one bunch of parsley, all chopped into thin sticks about 4 cm long. Reduce the heat and cover the pot. Once the vegetables have softened, add the broth, meat, and several potatoes cut into large chunks. When the vegetables are almost cooked, add two handfuls of finely sliced cabbage and two grated tomatoes. Mince several pieces of bacon with four cloves of garlic, half a bunch of dill, and a bit of parsley. Add the resulting paste to the soup, letting it just come to a boil before removing the borscht from the heat. Serve with a spoonful of cream and shore up with vodka, as much as you can handle.
Soak a pound of ripe green beans overnight. In the morning, boil them over low heat until they are completely soft. Drain out the liquid and set it aside. Pour a third of a cup of olive oil in a frying pan and sauté three large onions until translucent. Add three tablespoons of paprika and a handful of mint. Immediately add the drained green beans and a teaspoon of salt. Take thirty dried red peppers, which you have soaked in water in advance until they have expanded. Fill them with the bean mixture. Place them in an open pan or a big pot, clay if possible. Pour another third of a cup of olive oil over them, plus two cups of the water the beans had boiled in, and bake them in a moderately hot oven for around 40 minutes.
Tsvetana Galileeva’s secret is injecting the turkey with a syringe of melted butter so it is juicy, albeit quite caloric.
Ingredients: one turkey (around ten pounds), one small onion, a half-pound of shelled chestnuts, 3.5 ounces of foie gras (duck or goose), salt and black pepper to taste, three green apples, one stick of butter.
Once the turkey is cleaned and washed, coat it liberally both outside and inside with salt and butter.
For the stuffing: Saute the onion, chestnuts and the chopped-up foie gras in butter. Peel the green apples and steam them until soft and make them into a puree. Add black pepper. Fill the turkey with this stuffing.
Sew the turkey shut and place it in a pan. Pour a bit of water in and cover the whole pan with foil.
Bake the turkey in the oven at a moderate heat for two and a half to three hours, taking it out every 40 minutes to add a little more water and to coat it with butter. At the end, remove the foil and put the pan back in the oven for 15 minutes to make the skin crispy. Before serving, coat the turkey with a mixture of honey and lemon.
Prepare a crumbly dough from one and a half cups of flour, one stick of melted butter, a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of water. Spread the dough on the bottom of a greased and floured pan and cover it with slices of three large sour apples, peeled. Prepare cream from: a half cup of sugar whipped with a quarter stick of butter, two eggs and a pinch of cinnamon, mixing it until it whitens. Pour the cream over the apples. Bake the tart in a medium-hot oven. When it is ready, cut a slice of the aroma and put it away for days when you urgently need to create coziness.
Over a slow fire, heat a clove of garlic, a pinch of curry, a knife-tip of cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg, a ground clove, and a pinch of white pepper in four or five tablespoons of olive oil. Once the spices release their aromas, add a cup of rice, stirring until the oil and aroma have been absorbed. Pour in a cup of hot water so the mix bubbles up a bit. Fill the blossoms with rice, twisting the ends like little bundles. Grease an earthenware pan with olive oil and arrange the filled pumpkin blossoms on it. Pour another cup and a half of hot water over the dish and bake in the oven, first at high, then at medium heat.
The blossoms can also be filled with four cheeses- Roquefort, feta, smoked cheese, and parmesan; again bake in the oven.
But if you need hors d’oeuvres for beer, make a mixture thick as porridge from one tablespoon of flour, black pepper and beer, dip the blossoms in it and fry them lightly on both sides in a little olive oil until they turn pinkish.
In a pressure cooker, lightly sauté four cloves of crushed garlic, several small, dried hot peperoncini, and ginger powder in three or four tablespoons of olive oil. When they release their aroma, add green beans snapped in half and a bit of salt and stir vigorously, until the greenness intensifies. Add four tablespoons of water and cover with a lid. First, boil them on a high heat for several minutes, then for five more minutes over a low heat. Serve as a main course or as a side dish.
Sift a pound of flour into a wide, flat pan. Shape it into a volcano and pour into the crater two or three tablespoons of fresh milk warmed to hand temperature, along with a pinch of salt, a pinch of sugar, and a whole packet of dry yeast or half a cube of fresh yeast (crumbled). Heat up the oven. Set the pan with the volcano and the rising yeast on its open door so it will be nice and warm. Once the yeast rises, add more warmed milk- around a cup, in which an egg, a spoonful of sugar and a pat of butter as big as a walnut have been dissolved. Mix it with a wooden spoon at first, in a wooden bowl if possible. While kneading it, gradually add a quarter cup of olive oil until the dough stops sticking to your hands. Then shape the dough into small rolls or buns which can be stuffed with olives, nuts, crushed rosemary or feta cheese, and place them in the baking-dish, once again setting it on the door of the oven to rise for half an hour. After that, glaze the tops of the rolls with egg whites and sprinkle them with caraway, sesame, flax, or poppy seeds. This recipe can also be used for pierogi and other doughy adventures.
Best from lentil, peanut, and soy. Soak the seeds in water separately for one night. Then place them in a strainer and wash them with running water three times a day so they don’t go sour. When they sprout, they are ready for consumption.
Rice with sprouts.
Boil basmati rice (two cups of water to one cup of rice) along with finely chopped hot peppers for several minutes on high, then reduce the heat and simmer covered for another three minutes. Just before it is ready, add fresh basil, sprouts, sprigs of lemongrass (which will be removed later), two cloves of finely chopped garlic, a spoonful of curry, a can of coconut milk, three tablespoons of olive oil, and salt to taste. Stir it up carefully. Turn off the heat after five minutes and let the rice stand covered for another five minutes with the new ingredients.
Boil a handful of buckwheat. Add olive oil, lemon, and salt to taste, finely chopped hot pepper, tomato. Improvise according to the season- avocado, spinach leaves, bok choy, grated green apple, or a spoonful of cream. This breakfast is toning, filling, and easy to digest.
Mix a handful of finely ground oatmeal with a little water and half a carton of yogurt. Add raw sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, and cashews. Add a spoonful of ground flaxseeds and a spoonful of ground sesame seeds. Add sliced fruit to taste and several dried plums and raisins. This is an energy bomb that guarantees long-lasting carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids-important for building cells.