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10 Fun Facts About Sochi, Russia and a “Blinis” Pancake Recipe Kids Will Love

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With a maiden name like Borowski, I’ve heard pretty much every Pollack joke there is. But my ancestors primarily hail from the Ukraine and Russia so I feel a connection to Sochi, host city of the 2014 Winter Olympic games. Here are a few fun facts about my original Motherland that my kids have enjoyed learning:

  1. Russia, the largest country in the world, occupies one-tenth of all the land on Earth. It spans 11 time zones across two continents (Europe and Asia) and has coasts on three oceans (the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic). It is almost twice as big as Canada.
  2. It has the deepest lake in the world, Lake Baikal (1,700 m or 5,577 ft) in Siberia and it contains more water than any other lake on earth. Amazing when you compare that to Denver, the “Mile High City” at 5,280 feet. Russia has about 100,000 rivers, including some of the longest and most powerful in the world.sochimap
  3. The national animal is the brown bear.  The most famous animal species is the Siberian tiger, the largest cat in the world that is indigenous to the forests of eastern Russia.
  4. Greater Sochi has a population of 400,000 and stretches 90 miles along the Black Sea, making it the second longest city in the world behind only Mexico City.
  5. Sochi is on the same latitude with Toronto, Nice and the Gobi Desert.
  6. Sochi is a resort town that is known as the Russian Riviera. Sochi’s climate is subtropical, making it the warmest city to host an Olympic Winter Games and temperatures hover around 50 degrees in the winter. Sochi has been stockpiling snow and  a Michigan-based company designed and operates the snow-making system called the Super Pole Cat. This fully automated fan, pump and water-spraying unit up on a pole towers over the mountainside.
  7. The outdoor alpine events will be held in the northern Greater Caucasus Mountain Range and the area averages 5 degrees in the winter.  The town of Krasnaya Polyana (in the Caucasus Mountains) will host the events requiring snow. It is located 40 km away from Sochi.
  8. Twelve winter sports events will be making their Olympic debuts in Sochi, making the 2014 Games the biggest in history. The new events include a figure skating team event, women’s ski jumping, mixed relay biathlon, ski halfpipe (men’s and women’s), team relay luge, ski slope style (men’s and women’s), snowboard slope style (men’s and women’s), and snowboard parallel slalom (men’s and women’s). That makes for a total of 98 events in 15 winter sports (versus 86 events in Vancouver).
  9. There are three mascots for these Olympics, as voted by the Russian people: a polar bear, hare, and leopard.
  10. There will be 6,000 athletes from 85 countries (plus 1,650 Paralympians from 45 countries)

In honor of the Olympics, we decided to make some Russian cuisine. Since I’m not a fan of herring, borscht or caviar, we opted to try something more kid-friendly for our Saturday morning breakfast. Think pancakes but with a fancy Russian name! Blinis symbolize the sun and they are the most popular food of a Russian festival called Maslenitsa, which celebrates the end of winter and the start of spring. It’s also a time of year when people ask forgiveness for things they have done wrong during the year.

Like eating too many Blinis.

Blinis (Russian Pancakes)
These filled pancakes are served during Russia's Maslenitsa celebration before Lent begins. Traditionally they're served sweet or savory and can be filled with caviar, jam, sour cream, mushrooms or fish eggs. We went for the safe choice: fruit!
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  1. 2 eggs
  2. 2 cups of milk
  3. 1 cup of flour
  4. 1/2 tsp sugar
  5. 1/4 tsp salt
  6. vegetable oil
  1. Whisk together the eggs and milk. Add the dry ingredients.
  2. Lightly grease the bottom of a frying pan with vegetable oil and heat it on medium heat.
  3. Ladle a thin layer of batter to cover the bottom of the pan.
  4. Bubbles will start forming in th eblini. Cook until all the bubbles have popped and the edges look crisp. Slide a spatula under the blini, flip and cook the other side until lightly browned.
  5. Serve flat like pancakes with the toppings on top. Or spread your favorite filling in the center of the blini and fold three times to make a triangle shape.
  6. You can also fold up all 4 sides, like a small burrito.
Mile High Mamas
Other Olympic posts:

A Colorado Mom Shares a Fascinating Glimpse of Her Son’s Olympic Journey and the Cost to Get There

NBC’s 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics: viewers’ frequently asked questions

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  • comment avatar Lydsey February 6, 2014

    Fun facts and yum. Can’t wait for this weekend.

  • comment avatar LindaK February 6, 2014

    I’m with you–skip the caviar. Love how so many different countries have their own version of pancakes.

  • comment avatar farray February 6, 2014

    THat’s crazy about the temperatures. I hope they have enough snow. I remember that was an issue in Vancouver.

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson February 6, 2014

    Lindsay–I know, I’m throwing an Olympic party tomorrow for Opening Ceremony.

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson February 6, 2014

    LindaK–pancake in any form is a beautiful thing.

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson February 6, 2014

    Farray–I was there for the Vancouver Game and Whistler was nuts. They definitely needed more snow. But that’s one thing you just can’t predict.

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