A Royal in Training

The previous week marked the very last parent-teacher conference I had for the kid, ever! After 12 years of schooling and all those meetings with the teachers, plus headmaster/principles, counselors and other various school officials who, in the same breath, told us he was very bright, spirited but also a royal pain the a**. So, on behalf of his parents, I apologize, but he’s finally getting out! From now on, whatever screw ups or triumphs he makes in college, he’d just have to face his professors himself and deal with either shame or glory. But, I’m done!

This last teacher conference was actually very nice, perfect in a way that you hear all the nice things about your kid and even get to find out a few surprises. All teachers said, yes, very bright and smart, yes, still a royal pain sometimes, but also a quiet leader, he doesn’t talk all the time, but, when he does, class goes silent and listens. You go kid! No constant BS would get you far in life, so be very careful when you talk inside to yourself, and weigh your words even more when you talk to others! Words are the most powerful weapon and can either destroy or inspire so choose wisely!

I’m very glad the kid had a privilege to spend his high school years in a private prep school with small classes, dedicated teachers and a lot of individual attention to each student and the whole teaching process. As the country is now locked in heated debates over the failures of common core curriculum, private schools have a luxury to concentrate on what matters the most – just teach. I acknowledge that this luxury does cost a lot – that’s why I said the kid had a privilege, but he also worked hard all 4 years to maintain his 50% off merit scholarship, the highest amount this school awards, he’s never had a C on his report card, come to think of it, in his whole school career ever. Yes, proud mama talking here! But, trust me, it has not been that easy to raise this royal pain through his school years, as demonstrated by numerous talks with numerous teachers on how to keep him in line and also to inspire and push this kid to act out his God-given intellectual abilities. We are still looking for that magic “formula” by the way, but now I hope the kid will find it for himself!

One of the pleasant surprises that I heard during this last conference was that the kid actually has some pretty good acting abilities (and loves it) – who knew!! The kid does not look or behave like your typical artsy type, he’s all about technology and other related nerdy things, so getting a glimpse into this “other world of his” was a pure delight. The school follows a “developing a whole student” method so equal time is devoted to not just all the necessary science and math classes but also social/psychology, arts and English arts, and extensive history and economics so much of history and English classes include mock trials, projects, discussions and in English literature, acting scenes from the books they are reading. Most of the Fall semester was dedicated to the works of Shakespeare where the kid apparently immersed himself in first portraying Laertes and then King Lear (very royal indeed). But the teacher said he was especially impressed with his acting skills when he recently got to play Joe, a young Mormon gay man who comes out in a phone call to his mother in a beautifully written Kushner’s play “Angels in America”. The teacher said he was reduced to tears with the kid’s portrayal of deep emotions and this character’s personality, which is a complete opposite to his. You go kid! I hope you get to do more things that move and inspire you!

What’s Cooking This Week

Enough of the bragging and let’s get down to business. Food that is. Speaking of everything royal, today’s recipe is called Tzar’s. And it’s also Russian. Buckwheat is considered the most favorite Russian side dish. Traditionally, in Russian villages buckwheat was considered a main dish and served with butter or milk, sometimes with fried bacon bits or mushrooms. Tzar’s buckwheat is a recipe that incorporates meat and other “luxury” ingredients and, therefore, was served in more wealthy homes. It’s full of protein, from both buckwheat and beef but is not heavy in calories. Hope you try it and enjoy it the way I do!

“Tzar’s” Buckwheat 


1 lb of lean ground beef

2 cups of dry buckwheat

1 large onion, diced

1 small can of tomato paste

1 1/2 cups of carrots, shredded

1 cup of peas, fresh or frozen

1 package of mushrooms, whole

3 large bay leaves, whole

1 tsp each oregano and marjoram

salt, pepper, olive oil, cut fresh herbs


In a Dutch oven, heat up some olive oil and sauté chopped onions till golden, then add ground beef and continue cooking breaking up the meat pieces. Add all the spices plus shredded carrots, sauté for a couple more minutes. Add peas and whole mushrooms, stir in tomato paste and cook for 1 – 2 minutes.


Add buckwheat and sauté dry grains for about 30 seconds (be careful as not to burn). Reduce heat to medium-low, add 4 cups of water, add more salt and pepper, cover and cook until the water is almost evaporated. Place a Dutch oven in a pre-heated oven and bake uncovered at 350F degrees for another 5 – 7 minutes.


Fluff it with a fork, cover and let it stand for a couple minutes. Garnish with fresh herbs before serving.