Million Dollar Disaster

The other night I totally Macgyver-ed my Quinoa Pilaf with Cremini Mushrooms. I’m currently back in Moscow, but haven’t met up with Andrei’s cousin to get our bag of stuff. So I don’t have a mesh seive…in other words no way to rinse the quinoa before cooking it so it doesn’t taste bitter. Trying to rinse it in a cup then use my hand as a strainer just created semi-permanent quinoa gloves and elevated blood pressure. So I went with the next thing I could think of which was the french press. It came out well and I was proud of my resourcefulness. This dish is a foolproof dish, by the way, it tastes delicious anytime and anywhere I make it.

I served the pilaf with some veal tenderloin and the whole dinner was a beauty. I was so happy because my week long grace period since arriving should really be over and I need to start making more creative and less boring meals. Maybe I’ll say I should do this once a week just so I don’t raise the bar too high. Anyway, as may be evident, I was super confident in myself after this meal and was ready to tackle the next thing -bringing something awesome and new for my volunteer group. I did a lot of repeats last time so I wanted to bring them something I hadn’t made yet. If I could find the ingredients I thought maybe rice krispy treats drizzled with chocolate would be just the thing.

In one of the fancy grocery stores on our street I found the cereal. Actual Rice Krispies. For $12 a box. But have you ever noticed how when you are outside your own country money really feels more like Monopoly money…like, fake.

The next challenge was the marshmallows. I knew I wouldn’t find them anywhere near me because I had never seen them before in this area. There are aparently grocery stores that sell lots of American items, but would they have marshmallows, who knows. Plus I don’t know where those stores are anyway. So I went for the Russian marshmallow look alike – zephyr.

It feels, smells, and basically tastes like a marshmallow.

If it looks like a duck…right?


It melted into a clumpy mess. A light cloud of vanilla scent hung over the apartment, but I guess all the good smells left the actual sticky mess in the bowl. That did not smell as appetizing. I didn’t want to represent my exotic-ness (ok, ok…American-ness) by harming people with radioactive rice krispy treats so I dumped the bizarre mixture.

With only a couple hours left before my group met, I tried desperately to think of something else to do with the $12 box (worth $4 max back home 😉 ) of Rice Krispies. On their website I found a recipe using sweetened condensed milk. I ran to the store (for like the 5th time that day) and got the rest of the ingredients needed (well, I skipped the coconut and the nuts).

I’ve made a similar dessert before (my Gooey Bars) which are always pretty popular so I figured this would be a great last minute fix.


Disaster number 2 of the day ensued. Maybe I did something wrong, but the sticky mixture would not harden correctly and I could not take it off the foil. Foil doesn’t really taste that great, so I brought nothing to the volunteers this time. Except promises for something amazing the following week. Which now I have to come up with.

That recipe is called Lunchbox Coconut Surprise. As in, “SURPRISE – this recipe sucks!”

I’m irked by the word “Surprise” in recipe names. Same goes for “Magic”. For some reason those words always apply to recipes with sweetened condensed milk.

The whole time I was subconsciously aware that Kellog’s is on the “No-Buy GMO List”. Perhaps that’s why nothing worked out for me. I can hear my mom and sister cringing back home. As am I. Russia band GMOs (which is AWESOME), but they may have forgotten about some of their imports.

(side note: if you are in California, please VOTE YES on PROP 37. Google it. It could really start to make a difference nationwide. The rest of us are counting on YOU).

There is a girl in the group that started baking things too; especially while I was gone. I’d like to pat myself on the back for being her inspiration, but then where would my humility be? She is now inspiring me to get back on the ball before my reputation is replaced altogether. How silly that I feel threatened by the new cookies and cakes on the block…


9 Responses to “Million Dollar Disaster”

  1. Could you have used a towel to strain the quino?
    How much would it cost to mail you marshmallows? Because I’m up to the challenge!

    • The paper towels we buy (and we’ve tried several brands) completely disintegrate in water and I don’t really have any other proper towels that would work I don’t think. But I did think about it.

      I’m not sure about the cost. Marshmallows are light so probably not that much, but my concern would be the time. I think the postcards I sent from here took like 3 months to get to the USA. I don’t trust the Russian postal service 🙂 🙂 ha They would probably arrive after we leave.

      • update: I JUST found American marshmallows at another store. Grrrr! Guess I’ll be going back to the other place to get the cereal again. Hopefully the volunteers like them and it’s worth it 🙂

  2. I know what happened to your recipe – the rice krispies are a fraud! Our snap, crackle and pop do not look like that on the box in our house!

    • You know, when I was reviewing my post and looking at the pictures, I noticed that they kind of looked weird. All the writing on the box is in French…maybe they are French Snap, Crackle and Pop

  3. Next time Olya…you should jut make your own marshmellows 🙂 I bet they would taste better than any store bought ones! Love your blogs!!!

  4. Olya — I am pretty sure that “zephyr” are meringue cookies! I’m amazed that you didn’t recognize them as such!! That said, I love your blog — you are so funny in your alternating self-effacing and triumphant commentary. Love it!! –
    -xox, Boulia

    • I believe beze is meringue. Zephyr is squishy. It definitely wasn’t marshmallow but I thought possibly it would work the same way hehe. The concept of roasting marshmallows is foreign here as well. Andrei’s cousin’s son was watching “Gubka Bob” and they were making smores. So the next time I came over they were ready with the question “Vi pravdo zharitse zephyr???” hahahah


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