Natalya Syanova’s Bread Baking

I loved walking home with a warm loaf of bread and breaking off a piece of fresh, delicious crust to chew along the way.” — Natalya

A molasses-flavored sourdough bread I have made several times was discovered on a site named, Natasha’s Baking. It’s soft rye bread with a touch of sweetness. The bread has a golden brown crust and rises perfectly each time. The directions are straightforward with a few “options” for adding dry milk and .5 grams of dry yeast (which I do add). It freezes very well and retains its delicious taste.

Curious about Natasha, I began exploring her background and what other baking adventures she might be undertaking. My research led me to somewhat limited information, but I was delighted to discover that she not only shares her recipes online (her Baker’s Journal) but also offers courses online and is a published cookbook author. A cookbook I was most interested in was titled,

Sourdough Baking with Kids: The Science Behind Baking Bread Loaves with your Entire Family

Through our public library’s interlibrary loan system, I was able to obtain a copy to preview. After reading the introduction, I learned that Natasha is Natalya Syanova who grew up in Ukraine. As a mother in the United States, she wanted to create healthy eating habits for her children. She began by introducing them to the wonderful taste of homemade bread that she remembered in Ukraine.

After exploring her cookbook and trying many of her recipes, I conclude that it is a terrific beginner’s sourdough bread cookbook that teaches adults sourdough baking and how children can join in! It describes how to begin making sourdough starters and has important suggestions for good baking habits. This cookbook is filled with delicious recipes and lots of information about types of flour as well as step-by-step instructions for making sourdough starters.

This cookbook is definitely one that Vermont Food Librarian would recommend as a holiday gift for any parents who want to enjoy sourdough baking with their kids!

Happy Holidays, 2022! — Carole

Tofu Cabbage Vegetable Soup

Soup is so good for you! It warms your insides and comforts your soul.

A cookbook, Recipes between Friends* published by Pasco County Florida Libraries, included a vegetable soup with just the right amount of vegetables and broth that makes it easily modified. I have adapted the base of this soup many times with great success. The original soup was contributed to the cookbook by Denise Belasic’s and is titled Garden Vegetable Soup.

My version includes tofu as well as fresh broccoli, and cherry tomatoes from my garden. The great thing about this soup is that it is low-calorie, full of delicious healthy vegetables, and so satisfying! As autumn gets underway, try my version of this soup. Let me know what you think by commenting on my blog!

— Carole


2 large carrots, 1 small onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 2 celery stalks, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 4 cups of vegetable broth, 2 cups of cabbage chopped, 3/4 cup of chopped cherry tomatoes, 7 oz firm tofu cut is edible pieces, 3/4 cup of cooked Jasmine rice, 1/2 teaspoon of basil, oregano, 1/2 cup of small broccoli flowers and stems. Sprinkle dried red pepper to taste.

Directions: (slightly modified from Denise Belasic’s original recipe)

  • In a 3-quart saucepan, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and saute the carrot, onion, garlic, and celery under low heat until soft, about 5 minutes.
  • Add broth, cabbage, tomatoes, tofu, Jasmine rice, basil oregano, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  • Add the broccoli and cook for 5 minutes until tender. Serve hot.
  • Sprinkle with dried red pepper and add salt if desired. I find that most broth is salty enough.

Recipe between Friends can be purchased by emailing Kiersten Backus Cost $20.00 A fabulous layout, great recipes, and fun holiday gift!

Scaloda Soup

My loving grandmother, Sebastiana, lived in a two-story house on Liberty Street in Middletown, Connecticut. Born in Sicily, she came to the United States with her new husband, had a daughter and a son (my father), and 6 granddaughters. Visits with her were joyful, boisterous occasions where her small kitchen managed to fit us all. Together we enjoyed her delicious homemade pasta, soup, and vegetable dishes.

One of my favorite dishes she prepared for us included a green leafy vegetable she called “scaloda” which is actually escarole. She added escarole to cannellini beans, vegetables & a pasta broth resulting in a slightly creamy, soft soup. The taste of escarole is what makes this soup special. Many cooks have variations of it, but the recipe below is my version reproduced from my memory. It is also listed in the menu under Vegetarian/Vegan Soup. It’s a great quick comfort soup! Try it and let me know what you think! — Carole

Scaloda Bean Soup from Memory — by Carole


1/2 onion chopped, 1 celery stick chopped, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 can 19oz cannellini white kidney beans (I like Progresso), 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth, 3 tablespoons of orzo*, and two large handfuls of fresh roughly chopped escarole, 1/4 cup of romano cheese (I prefer BelGioioso).

*Some people like more orzo in their soup than I recommend, but add it sparingly as too much orzo can absorb most if not all of the broth.


In a 3 quart pan, under medium heat, warm the olive oil and then add the chopped onions and celery. Once the onions are translucent, add the cannellini beans. Mash the beans a little in the pan then add the broth. I use 4 tablespoons of powdered vegetable mix available at our local coop and stir it into 4 cups of cold water.

Once the broth begins to warm up, add the orzo. Cook the soup until the orzo is soft. Then add large handfuls of escarole, stir and cook until it is soft (but not soggy). This takes just a few minutes. Shut off the stove and pour into soup bowls. Top with romano cheese and fresh black pepper. Serve with crusty sourdough bread. Watching this video may be helpful.