Russians are bombing Lutsk at this moment. Please see where Lutsk is on the map:

Hint: move your eyes closer to Poland.

Great Lent Recipes: The Kissel

To avoid sounding like those annoying food bloggers who make you scroll through thousands of words of text to get to the recipe, I’ll share the recipe first and then talk about the history of the dish.

Actually, there isn’t much of a recipe. You take split peas and boil them into oblivion. That’s it. That’s the famous kissel.

Of course, I like to fuss with mine and add a bunch of stuff to it:

  • shredded carrots (because I put carrots into everything)
  • dried mushrooms
  • a cinnamon stick
  • a bit of cubed potatoes
  • lots of cracked black pepper
  • dill
  • and one of those Polish mushroom bouillon cubes because I’m addicted to them.

It’s supposed to be boiled down even more but I like some crunch to mine. Make sure there isn’t too much water because this isn’t a soup. Kissel is supposed to go hard overnight in the refrigerator. Then you slice it and heat it up. Or color it with some beet juice and call it “Lenten bologna.”

The pea kissel was very popular before the revolution of 1917. It was the major Lenten dish. But it was considered low-class food. Merchants who struck it rich would hide in their offices, lower the curtains, and indulge in some takeout kissel in secret.

After the revolution, the kissel somehow transformed into a completely different thing. The peas disappeared, and it became a sweet, dessert-type gooey beverage made out of starch, sugar, and some berries.

And here’s a picture of Lenten bologna that I didn’t make but it’s funny and I want to share it:

Lenten bologna (постная вареная колбаса)

Hunting Nazis

How do the Russian media explain the war on Ukraine, the bombings of daycares and hospitals, and the destruction of residential areas?


Nazis, Nazis, Nazis. Those are all Nazis. And it’s the duty of all good people to kill Nazis. Civilians? Well, they are Nazis. Children? They are being brought up by Nazis to be little Nazis.

Nobody in their right mind would defend Nazis. If anybody annoys you, just call them a Nazi and you can do anything you wish to that dirty Nazi. The real power is the power to decide who’s a Nazi.

Hmm, this sounds strangely familiar but I can’t pinpoint where else I heard this. What a mystery.


The exact same people who were posting about the need to resist emotional manipulation by Ukrainians are now posting outraged stories about some utterly fictitious Russians in Texas who got a few nasty looks for speaking Russian in public. Apparently, emotional manipulation is perfectly fine when you approve of the people who are doing the manipulation.

I also find it curious that some people are so tone-deaf and clueless that they are using the word “Russophobia” completely seriously. Yes, it’s unfortunate that a Tchaikovsky concert somewhere was cancelled (and five million others weren’t). I’m against cancelling concerts. But if that’s “a phobia” (and enough already with this medicalized language), then what’s the bombing of Ukrainians with a thermobaric bomb? What’s the bombing of the maternity hospital in Mariupol? If you are so into handing down psychiatric diagnoses, why aren’t you talking about Ukrainophobia?

Also, people who are doing it are all on the right. These are people who should know better. Haven’t “transphobia” and Co taught us anything?

And by the way, I personally stood up against canceling Russian music on my campus. And I’m still proceding with the plan to revive our Russian program. So it’s possible to do this without being a mega-dick and throwing around “phobias.”

Book Notes: Luko Dashvar’s Milk with Blood

Yes, book notes! I managed to read something. This is good.

My initial search for contemporary Ukrainian literature worthy of the name produced no results but I didn’t give up and consulted a specialist. The specialist (also known as Dad) gave me a list of titles, and I’m happy to report that, apparently, the problem wasn’t with the literature but with the publishing industry. The combination of weird noms de plume, horrendously written promotional blurbs, off-putting titles, and vulgar cover art conceal wonderful books.

Take Luko Dashvar’s Milk with Blood. “Luko’s” name is actually Iryna Chernova. A perfectly normal name that sounds nothing like the mildly obscene pen name. Talking about obscene, I will spare you from having to see the cover art of this novel. Suffice it to say that I’d be embarrassed if anybody saw me holding the book. And I don’t embarrass easily. And the title? Oh, lordy.

But the novel itself is excellent. Very Ukrainian, very intense. The female protagonist is what I’ve been looking for in a character for years. Strong, stubborn, very complicated, and not given to clucking like a headless chicken about her insecurities.

I don’t think it will ever be translated because half of the joy of the novel is in the language. But let me tell you, the story is excellent. It’s hard to surprise me with a plot anymore but this one. . . came completely out of left field. World War II is mentioned, and most of the action happens in the USSR. These two things are enough to put me right off a book. But “Luko” (brrr, that pen name) writes about them in a way that does not annoy me.

I will proceed down the list, squinting at the cover art because it does the books no favors.