Showing posts with label Admin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Admin. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Yulinka Cooks is Closed

It's been a good six-year run, but it's time to close up shop. Yulinka Cooks may come back someday in this guise or a different one (as it has at least twice since 2006). I'm still around on the interwebs, of course, so feel free to contact me with questions about anything on the blog: yulinkacooks at yahoo dot com.

Всего доброго! (All the best, see you, bye-bye, later!)

Monday, April 04, 2011

Five Years of Yulinka Cooks

So I’ve been food blogging for five years. The idea for Yulinka Cooks was hatched in 2005, when I discovered first-generation food blogs like The Amateur Gourmet and Chocolate and Zucchini. In March ’06, inspired by my first kitchen and armed with a $30 digital camera, I set up a Blogger account.

Since then, I’ve written 239 blog posts, read 1,224 comments and went through five kitchens. I abandoned Yulinka Cooks a few times but couldn’t break it off for good.

I made borsch, pickled mushrooms and herring in a fur coat. I rose to the top of Google search results for a  while with my recipe for homemade Russian farmer’s cheese. I earned a bit of beer money in blog ads before BlogHer kicked me out for failing to update. I dabbled in food-themed travel blogging and memoir-writing. I got myself into a real newspaper. I picked up some Photoshop tricks and spruced up the layout. I wrote snarky reviews of grocery stores. I met cool people who read and commented on this blog.

For better or worse, Yulinka Cooks has been the online backdrop to the better part of my 20s.

If you’re reading this, thanks. I raise five shot glasses of vodka to you.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Times Are 'a Changing: Blogging in 2011 vs. 2006

Yulinka Cooks is back in business! Did you miss me? If not, I can’t blame you. It’s hard to keep up with all the food blogs out there. We bloggers are competing for readers, page views, comments, attention. During my hiatus I've thought about how blogging's changed since Yulinka Cooks began back in '06. Here are my tips on blogging in 2011:

Go hyper-local: Like the newspaper industry, food bloggers should focus on gaining a local readership. Cover local food, local restaurants, local farmers. Meet local foodies, organize local events (the Milwaukee-based food blog Burp! is doing this right).

Find a Niche: It’s hard to sustain a food blog that’s all over the place. Pick a theme, the more unusual the better, and stick to it. (This pertains to all blogs, not just food—see the fashion blog Manrepeller for an example. The theme is clothes that confuse and repulse men. Weird? Yes. But in a universe full of fashion blogs filled with recycled industry gossip, this blog stands out and gets covered in the New York Times.)

Forget Anonymity: When I started this blog in 2006, hardly anyone who read it knew me offline. Later, thanks to a mention in the local paper, local food blogger events and the ubiquity of Facebook, nearly half my readers seemed to be from the Milwaukee area. Co-workers and acquaintances (now Facebook friends) would mention my blog posts. My blog came up, unprompted, during job interviews.

Social Media: You pretty much have to be on Facebook and Twitter now, if you’re a blogger.

Be Creative: Remember when food bloggers got book deals? That stopped circa 2008. Great recipes and artsy pictures aren’t enough to pull in readers, let alone a publishing contract, unless you run a really major blog like Smitten Kitchen. So be creative. Be weird. Don’t settle for just another recipe-and-picture food blog.

Have Fun: When blogging's fun, it shows! Also: find a few blogs that you really admire, read them and leave comments. The bloggers will appreciate it.  As will I if you stick with Yulinka Cooks. Thanks again for reading!  

Sunday, June 06, 2010

All Blogged Out

After four years of cooking and blogging, I'm closing up shop for a while. A huge thank-you to all for reading and commenting.

I may come back some day--who knows? In the meantime, feel free to e-mail me (yulinkacooks at yahoo dot com) with any questions about recipes on this blog.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Blogroll Goodness

I revised my blogroll the other day, and I’m pleasantly surprised by the many new Russian/Eastern European blogs. There’s a wonderfully diverse mix out there—from Taste of Russia (an American blogger eating her way through Russia) to Natasha's Kitchen (a Ukrainian twist) to Rich Food for Lean Times (by a Wisconsin-based blogger who’s originally from Azerbaijan).

I’m also a bit overwhelmed by all the great content these bloggers are cranking out. Oh, to be a new blogger, cooking your heart out and writing about it every day. I, too, posted four to five times a week back when I started in ’06. (Exhaustion and burnout will set in soon enough, bwa ha ha!). Anyway, check them out, and let me know of anyone I may be forgetting.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Calling All Blogs

If you write a blog on Russian or Eastern European cooking, please leave a comment or e-mail me at I'd like to compile a list of links to food blogs that cover this topic. Blogs on food from the former Soviet Republics are welcome, too.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Three Years of Yulinka Cooks

March 27 was the third anniversary of Yulinka Cooks. Some people celebrate with cake; I celebrate with caviar canapes.* (Last year I rang in my two-year blog anniversary with a slice of herring in a fur coat.)

The past year has been pretty successful for this little blog. I got my first press clipping and made some money thanks to blog ads. Granted, my blog's return on investment is very low, but I still like cooking and coming up with engaging ways to write up my kitchen endeavors. With that, let's go on a tour of my third year in the blogosphere. (Go here for my first-year anniversary write-up and here for a two-year birthday post.)

In May, I had fun with leftovers, which earned me a mention in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
In July, I went to Estonia and Russia. My travels inspired some reflections on what it's like to be Russian-American.
In the fall, I traipsed all over the Milwaukee suburbs in pursuit of local food. I also tweaked my borsch recipe.
When it got colder, I made schi (Russian sauerkraut soup) for the first time. Other successful first-time dishes were lagman, an Uzbek lamb stew, and an Estonian potato/mushroom/cheese casserole. One of the weirder recipes to appear on this blog was chicken stuffed with crepes.
I didn't blog much in February and March, but I did write up this blog's policy on freebies, samples and PR pitches. I also joined Twitter and was super excited to attract 53 whole followers, including the CEO of Lifeway, a company that makes kefir.
Thanks for reading, all. I really do appreciate it.
*My caviar canape recipe is here.

Thursday, July 31, 2008


Here’s a list of my recent food cravings: dilled potatoes, sour cream, homemade pickles and kefir. No, I’m not pregnant. It’s just that I’ve been to Russia. All I want to eat is simple, Slavic peasant food, heavy on the beets, fermented dairy products and rye bread. This week I made svekolnik (also known as cold borsch) and farmer's cheese, and spruced up old posts on these dishes.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Back in the USSR

Hey, did I ever blog about my upcoming trip to Estonia and Russia? No? Okay. I leave...tomorrow. I'm off to Tallinn and St. Petersburg and maybe Moscow. I haven't been back to Russia since I moved to the U.S. when I was nine. I hope to return with pictures and stories and yummy food memories, but I really don't know what to expect.

Wish me luck, and see you in late July.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Welcome, Journal Sentinel readers

My longtime dream has come true: this little blog got a shout-out in a real, live newspaper. I was interviewed by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for a story on leftovers, which you can read here.

New readers, start with this post for my wit and wisdom on leftovers. Got a favorite leftover recipe? Share it in the comments.

Here are some more ideas on using up leftover food:

Milk: Make homemade cottage cheese (aka farmer's cheese, curd cheese or tvorog).

Cottage cheese: Bake muffins.

Cooked, cold chicken: Make chicken-stuffed crepes or chicken and spinach hachepouri.

Raw chicken, random vegetables: Make stock.

Tomatoes past their prime: Roast 'em.

Roasted tomatoes, canned tomatoes, or tomato paste: Make chana masala soup.

Cooked vegetables: Make salad.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Two years of Yulinka Cooks

Holy crap, this little blog of mine is two years old! Last year I celebrated with a jaunt through my first 12 months of blogging. This year, let’s enjoy a slice of birthday herring in a fur coat (above) and take a look at what I accomplished since March 27, 2006:

Most popular and single most useful post: How to make tvorog (Russian farmer’s cheese). Tvorog is this blog’s raison d’etre, the post with the most page views and nearly the most comments. Tvorog is the number-one search term that brings people to Yulinka Cooks. Google tvorog and my blog is the first result! Take that, bloggers with book deals.

Most comments: Oddly, my kvass-making (rye bread beer) post just beat out tvorog for the most comments. Kvass is a pretty obscure beverage in the U.S. and making it at home requires an unusual interest in beer-brewing and Russian drinks. There was much discussion in this thread about method, technique, etc., but my kvass was still terrible and I have zero interest in making it again.

Common search terms that bring people here: Tvorog, eggplant caviar, lentil soup, kvass, borsch and blini. Last year I complained that my readers are boring: most of you use this blog as a reference source for recipes and click away. Indeed, my stats show that I have few repeat readers. Wham, bam, no spasibo m’am!

Most popular recipes: The usual suspects: eggplant caviar, tvorog, Korean carrot salad. My favorites are Georgian lamb and green beans, squash gratin, tomato bean soup with sausage and chana masala soup.

Biggest success: My first borsch was pretty damn good. In fact, all my soups have been pretty successful. I’ve made this pickled mixed vegetable salad three times in the past month and I will be making it again. Also: pickles and chocolate-covered sirki (mini cheesecakes).

Biggest failure: Kvass, but that was expected. My ill-fated sauerkraut really rankles, though. I’m supposed to be good at making vegetables. Also, most of my baking was just ok. Did I make it sound like my sweet yeast dough experiments of April-June 2006 were awesome? I may have exaggerated a little.

Least popular post: I guess no one cares about my wit and wisdom on food politics or forays into Indian cooking. I can’t imagine why.

Favorite post: On Tea. Few people realize just how important tea is to me, but I drink about eight cups of the stuff a day. I’m also fond of the kasha post and the holiday round-ups: New Year and Thanksgiving.

Want to give me an anniversary gift? Delurk in the comments.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


Food hasn’t been on my mind lately. I’ve been busy, I’ve been sick, I’ve been on the road. I’ve been taking too many shortcuts, cutting too many corners. Last week I was fighting a low-grade cold, the kind that dulls your appetite and makes everything taste flat. And then, when I had a chance to redeem myself on a long weekend in Puerto Rico, I just gave up. Being a foodie can be exhausting: always looking for that authentic, out-of-the way little place where the locals eat. This is not as fun as it sounds. Oh, no: It takes research, reading, asking the Chowhounds. I said to hell with it. My traveling companion doesn’t care much about food, my lingering cold wore me down, and so we ate at chain restaurants with nary a second thought. This week, though, I’m back on the mends. My cold is almost gone, my appetite is back and my palate is sharper. I’m itching to make something new, something different. First up, a belated write-up of this marinated vegetable salad. In brief: it's a keeper. Recipe coming soon.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


I’m back in the kitchen, cooking…well, not Russian and more. Life circumstances have changed, people. A, I’m single, so no more huge wats of borsch that I can depend on the Significant Other to inhale. B, I live alone these days and the budget is tighter, so I won’t be wasting ingredients on rye bread beer-brewing projects. C, My quest to lose some weight has been successful and has killed my desire to make and consume mountains of sweet yeast dough. And D, I think I've exhausted my repertoire of Russian dishes. No, really, I lived at home for a stretch this year and my mom and I did not once cook anything that I have not already blogged about.

Oh, I still like my beets and mushrooms, but I want to try to do something different with them. Namely: Cook vegetables more inventively and create healthy meals on a tight budget. And we’re off…

Monday, March 12, 2007

Vote for Yulinka...Again

My hiatus didn't stop MKE, the local lifestyle weekly, from nominating Yulinka Cooks for its local blog of the week contest. I've been nominated once before, last June, but lost.

So please vote for me. If I win, I will actually cook something Russian, take pictures of it and write it up.

Sunday, February 25, 2007


Yulinka Cooks is going on an indefinite hiatus. I hope I'll be back someday.

Monday, March 27, 2006

About Yulinka Cooks

What: Yulinka Cooks is a blog that's mostly about food from Russia and the former Soviet republics. I blog recipes, foodie news, Soviet kitsch and more.
Your blogger in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Who: Your blogger and host is Julia McIntosh, alias Yulinka. I've been dabbling in cooking since I was 14, and began this blog in 2006. My family immigrated to the U.S. from St. Petersburg, Russia, in the early 1990s, and I grew up with Russian homecooking. I now live and blog in Milwaukee, Wis.

Why Yulinka? It's a nickname and the diminutive version of my Russian name, Yuliya (Юлия). When I was growing up, "Yulinka is cooking" was a family punchline because my kitchen efforts would usually go awry.

Why Russian Food? A) Russian food under-appreciated and yummy and B) I'm kind of sentimental about maintaining and archiving my family's cooking traditions.

I also like to explore food from the former Soviet republics, especially Uzbekistan, Armenia and Georgia. My unofficial goal is to cook my way through Anya von Bremzen's excellent Russian/Soviet cookbook Please to the Table.

Also blogging: Soviet stuff, Milwaukee-area shops, restaurants, farmers' markets and farms, product reviews, food news and odds and ends.

A note on the recipes: As an amateur cook, I rarely measure ingredients and improvise like crazy. I do try to estimate ingredient amounts and cooking times; however, I can't guarantee they're absolutely accurate. Please contact me with questions (, and I'll do my best to help.

Greatest Hits: A Russia and Estonia travelogue. How to make tvorog (Russian farmer's cheese). On borsch. A Russian New Year's and herring in a fur coat.

Questions/Comments? Like all bloggers, I live for comments and feedback. E-mail me at or leave a comment. Thanks for reading!
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