Hello and welcome The Girls’ Guide to Guns and Butter. My name is Sofya and I am a 33-year-old, stay-at-home mom of three, living my American Dream in the rolling hills of the rural Driftless Wisconsin.

A recent immigrant to this country, I was born in Azerbaijan, one of the southernmost republics of the Soviet Union, wedged between Russia and Iran on the Western coast of the Caspian Sea.


My first language is Russian, but when I was 17, I decided to teach myself English. Less than a year later, I won a full scholarship to the American University in Bulgaria, or AUBG – an American-style liberal arts college with English as the sole language of instruction.


While I found it really difficult to be going to school in English and to adapt to a completely foreign educational model, I graduated with an Outstanding Achievement Award in English, although I strongly suspect that this had more to do with the fact that English majors were few and far between than with any real achievement of mine. So that’s how my English got to be so good.

Halfway through college, purely by chance, I found myself spending two weeks at an extremely isolated rural resort in the Bulgarian Rila mountains with a few of my fellow students.


Having grown up in a multimillion, metropolitan Azerbaijani capital, I had never seen countryside or forest or anything of the kind prior to that experience. It was on that trip that I fell in love hard with the peace and the natural beauty of the country and knew that this was where I belonged.


A mere year later, I would meet a 21-year old Wisconsin farm boy who transferred to AUBG after two years at Deep Springs College – an isolated, academically elite, all-male school on a cattle ranch in California’s high desert. We ran into each other at the cafeteria where I would help him buy a ham sandwich in Bulgarian. Within the first five minutes of conversation, I told him I wanted to live in a small, rural town, and he told me he came from one. Within the next five, I imagined us married and living on a farm raising kids and animals.


Ten years later…


Our ten-acre ridgetop farm is located on the edge of Viroqua, Wisconsin, a home to organic agriculture, a bustling food cooperative, and thriving Waldorf schools among other things.


Farming is more of a hobby for us, but it allows us to grow a large proportion of our food, including all meat and eggs, not to mention the fact that the country is a wonderful place for our kids to grow up.

I originally started this blog to share recipes and adventures in my then newly-found interest, deer hunting. I then expanded to include posts on homesteading, butchering, photography, parenting, and crafting.

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jason and Steve February 3, 2010 at 5:43 am

Sofya and Rebecca,

You’ve produced a really terrific blog and we’re happy to promote it to our readers! The food looks so good and yes, we share a sort of culinary ethic. Please keep in touch.

Steve & Jason


2 Sofya February 3, 2010 at 6:12 am

I’m glad I came across you guys! And thanks!


3 Natasha Kravchuk February 9, 2010 at 6:41 pm

I like your site; I’ll definitely come back. Would you be interested in a link exchange on the blogroll? My site is: natashaskitchen.com. Looks like we have some Russian recipes in common.


4 Sofya February 9, 2010 at 6:54 pm

Thanks, Natasha, I like yours too! Let’s do the blogroll exchange – I think it’s good for people perusing the web in search of Russian dishes to see both at once. I’m gonna add yours right now.


5 Melissa North February 17, 2010 at 10:46 pm

So glad I found this blog! I’m a Wisconsinite now living in the UK with my husband and and son but we are hoping to soon make the move back and settle somewhere in the driftless area. So happy to see other young like-minded families who obviously have a love affair with the land and food :)


6 Sofya February 17, 2010 at 11:35 pm

It’s a good place to be!


7 FARIDA March 8, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Sofya, so nice meetingi you! You have a great blog! Wonderful recipes. Some of them (dovga, xingal) are my all-time favorites. Keep up the great work~


8 Sofya March 8, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Well Farida, I couldn’t begin to tell you how much I like YOUR blog. Saying that I really really like it would be an understatement. I was going over your paxlava recipe last night and gearing up to make it. I think I might modify the filling a bit. You see – I love cardamom, and I don’t know why, I really associate it with cardamom. I love paxlava.

Really, the world needs you! Finding Azeri recipes with American measurements and ingredients is practically impossible outside of you blog. I don’t think your book has been published yet (?) but I would really like a copy once it is. I really struggle here because I grew up being offered all of those wonderful traditional dishes outside of my home back in Azerbaijan, but actually made very few myself – my mom was a somewhat limited cook, and we were Jewish, so many of the nice dishes, especially for pastries, I never learned how to make.

Which brings me to the following question – I was also wondering if you have a recipe for kutabi dough, and a recipe for shor-gogal. I don’t believe either is on your blog… unless I didn’t look well.


9 Jacquelyn March 17, 2010 at 12:23 pm

I have throughly enjoyed reading your blog and drooling over your recipes. A meal at your house is truly a celebration of real food and good food. I will be checking back frequently to see what might be served up in our home next! May you, your family and gardens/animals be richly blessed with abundance!


10 Sofya March 17, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Thank you, Jacquelyn, I am glad you like it!


11 Leslie May 21, 2010 at 10:46 am

Hello Sofya and Rebecca. Great food blog! Glad to see another blogger in the Driftless Area. I love this place :)


12 Sofya May 21, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Driftless Appetite? I like that! I like your blog too! I’m going to check it out some more.


13 Leslie May 22, 2010 at 10:13 pm

Thanks :) Can I put you on my list of Wisconsin Food Blogs on our page?


14 Sofya May 23, 2010 at 8:38 am

That would be great! Thanks!


15 SmartDogs August 5, 2010 at 4:07 pm

Hi, I live in the northern part of the driftless region and blog about dogs, science, gardening, cooking and backyard chickens. I just found your blog. I think it’s wonderful and plan to add it to my blogroll.


16 Sofia April 18, 2011 at 10:38 am

Just found your site thanks to A Little Bit of Spain. Odd how we foreigners end up in the Midwest. Looking forward to trying your yogurt! Also meanwhile checking your whole site. Thanks from yet another Sofia (different spelling) in WI!


17 Jenny August 11, 2011 at 8:52 pm

Sofya, we’re new to the driftless region. Can you help me with a recommendation on where to buy trees (fruit and other) as well as fruit bushes? I’d like to get some things in this fall. We’re north of Westby. Thanks!


18 Sofya August 11, 2011 at 10:07 pm

Hi Jenny, welcome to the Driftless! The place where I would head (and where I bought many wonderful trees and bushes in the past) is the Reed’s Creek Arboretum/Nursery. If you google it (the address is in Reedstown), their site I think will tell you where to go. I can’t remember right now if it’s before or past Reedstown, but basically you gonna wanna go East on 14 past Viroqua and towards Reedstown. Will take about 20 min for you.


19 Elizabeth T. November 13, 2011 at 10:22 am

Love your website, everything about it! I’m a big fan of guns and butter, too – grew up receiving bullets for Christmas and using ample amounts of butter. :) Found your website through a link to your no-knead bread (which I’ve used twice now because it’s better than any other dutch oven recipes I’ve tried; also, my husband says it’s one of the best I’ve made). Thanks for sharing! Can’t wait to try your borscht.


20 Sofya November 13, 2011 at 10:35 am

Thanks Elizabeth, so nice of you to take a moment to say that.


21 Lydia November 19, 2011 at 8:29 pm

Thank you for all the great information. I’m hoping I can pass some on to you. I was reading “Killing your food…” and read that you were having a hard time finding women hunters. You can get in contact with women hunters at Prois, a women’s hunting gear retailer. They have Facebook page where hunting women can connect. Hoping you can find others who share your passion.


22 Christy December 15, 2011 at 8:24 pm

Just joined your blog! I’m always excited to find fellow female hunters like myself! I love to deer hunt and and cook! Therefore I’m my husbands best buddy! Thanks for sharing your experiences with us! Look forward to reading more about you and what you do in the future!


23 Lisa Koral December 15, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Love the always interesting posts, and the delicious recipes. Thanks for sharing.


24 Rob Kavanaugh December 30, 2011 at 7:21 pm

I did not intend this for posting but I enjoy your blog and just wanted to say congradulations on your most recent addition to your family and I hope you never change a thing on your blog!Just wonderfull!Best of luck to you and yours.Rob from Western NY>


25 Paul B January 5, 2012 at 8:46 pm

Email me for a phone no on where to get Tee Shirts made, in Missouri. I am making a bigger garden just because of your site. Right Now I am gardening 12 months per year, with Winter Kale going great here in North Missouri, 12 months from now plan on a bigger garden. Love your new Avatar on fb !!! Can I use it for a while with credits to your site?


26 Sofya January 5, 2012 at 9:37 pm

That’s awesome Paul, what a long gardening season!


27 Mila Sky January 9, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Sofya! I love your blog! There are so very few blogs out there that incorporate Russian food and recipes with actual proper grammar! Shock!
Glad I stumbled upon you! Love the name of the blog and the recipes! I am a fan! I will definitely keep coming back!
Mila Sky recently posted..My Biggest Fan… Bakes!!!!My Profile


28 Sofya January 9, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Mila, check out AZ Cookbook:


It’s like that but more and better.


29 Penny January 13, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Do you have email subscriptions available? I’m not seeing any buttons or forms to fill out to get updates..


30 Sofya January 13, 2012 at 1:22 pm

No Penny, I don’t. I don’t like that option. You would need to come to the site to read or add it to your googlereader via http://girlsguidetobutter.com/feed. Thanks.


31 Susie @ Foodie Fabuliusta March 26, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Hi Sofya-

I have had so much fun reading your blog and getting to know you and your life and delicious recipes! Can’t wait to read more!
xoxo Susie
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32 Julia Robyn April 2, 2012 at 7:01 pm

It makes me wonder that you have a sweet smile despite the cold weather pictures you got there. I find them adorable as mine :)
Julia Robyn recently posted..Rheumatoid arthritis – is Celebrex good for this?My Profile


33 Sofya April 2, 2012 at 8:44 pm

Try 9 months pregnant, too. I love cold weather. And being 9 months pregnant for that matter.


34 Julie November 10, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Dear Sofya, I am glad you like Wisconsin, it is a wonderful state (that said by a native of nearby Iowa). My husband is a Georgian and his Kakhatian mother made fantastic borshch — but I think your version may be better. I am definitely going to try it, esp. roasting the beets. Can you let me know you advice for freezing borshch? I have a huge pot left from a student reception and fear we won’t finish it in the next 4-5 days. Thanks!


35 Sofya November 10, 2012 at 5:56 pm

It does freeze well – just divide it between your desired tupperware containers, leaving about 1/4 unfilled for expansion, and stick it in your freezer (deep freeze is best). It will keep for a few months. Then just thaw and reheat.


36 Wendy November 16, 2012 at 8:59 pm

So happy to have found this site! I have lived in Wisconsin my whole life, and I’m pretty sure no other region of the world could satisfy my dairy addiction. Thanks for sharing your wonderful recipes – I’ll be stopping by regularly!


37 Sofya November 18, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Thanks, Wendy – I love Wisconsin.


38 Shawn February 15, 2013 at 11:53 am

I have been making maple Syrup the past couple years but surf the web for pointers. That is when I found you’re web site. I enjoyed reading some of you’re articles and pointers. I also am into being self reliant and have a mini farm as a hobbie in Ohio. I have been doing bee keeping for over 3 years and have grown very addicted to the hobbie. My garden gets out of control with the help of the bees and i enjoy trying to keep up with the canning.

Welcome to America
Shawn Henry


39 Sarah @ Homestyle Cooking Around The World February 24, 2013 at 6:10 pm

I loved reading about your “story”- very entertaining and interesting to hear how you came to live in the U.S. I’m getting ready to make your Russian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls for cooking club this week. As always, I love your recipes and don’t know where you find the time to do all that you do. Thanks
Sarah @ Homestyle Cooking Around The World recently posted..Blueberry Scones… a tea party… and reminiscing about Victoria magazineMy Profile


40 Sofya February 24, 2013 at 6:40 pm

Hi Sarah… my secret is simple… I barely manage to get things done and always feel behind!


41 Melissa July 8, 2013 at 8:55 am

I just stumbled across your blog via the Food in Jars blog. It’s great to have another recipe for sour cherries :) And how fun to see that we are only 30 minutes from eachother…I live just north of La Crosse. I can’t wait to read through the rest of your blog. Have a great day!


42 Sofya July 8, 2013 at 10:57 am



43 Amy July 22, 2013 at 9:35 pm

You’ve found a new following of parents with former Soviet Republic adopted children. Excited to try the recipes!


44 Karen @ Making Shift July 23, 2013 at 8:55 pm

I love your blog! What a joy to find it. I lived in Wisconsin for three years and worked at the Madison Farmer’s Market for Harmony Valley Farm, who must be your neighbors. It looks like you and they have good company up there.


45 Meg July 24, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Sofya, what a lucky day. I was looking for a raspberry preserves recipe and found your blog. The title caught my attention and I loved it at once, then when I saw you were in Wisconsin I knew I should write. I’m on the western side of Wisconsin, about an hour from the Twin Cities, have a boarding kennel for dogs and am growing a goat micro-dairy while working on my cheesemaker’s license. I will definitely be spending some time on your blog, catching up and reading recipes and other interesting things.
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46 Gdaiva February 17, 2014 at 2:20 pm

what a beautiful story! I came from Lithuania. I was googling for homemade lotion recipe and your site came up :). Beautiful website, thank you!


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