• Russian Gourmet: Cheese-niki

    I knew there was a post somewhere on this blog about the Russian pancakes made with Farmer Cheese for which I coined a term cheese-niki, but when my sophisticated gastronomical friend Katrina posted a recipe on her blog, I thought it was time to revisit the subject.

    There must be some unfortunate reason why the American people are being deprived of multiple milk products. Kefir is only now becoming widely available or even known to many people, there is probably one lonely brand of Farmer Cheese, and such delicacies as baked milk and ryazhenka are mostly unheard of outside of the Russian store. In light of the aforementioned shortages of common ingredients I had to adapt my recipe to whatever is available on hand. Yes, there are ways of making Farmer Cheese at home, but as my daughter would gladly tell you – I am lazy, and all my cooking is based on the least possible amount of work and clean-up.

    For this recipe you’ll need a 32 oz tub of the all-natural plain or vanilla yogurt, 1 egg, about a cup of flour, a small amount of salt and baking soda, sugar, and optional vanilla and raisins, craisins or whatever else you might like. You will also need cheesecloth, which is widely available at most grocery stores, craft department at Walmart, kitchen stores and elsewhere.

    When buying yogurt look for one with the least possible amount of ingredients; the one I used had just one ingredient -milk. I usually pick a large container at Walmart where it only costs around two dollars. Other yogurts contain fillers, white paint, super-glue and other fine ingredients, but while it may be OK to eat, I have no idea what will happen when you try to cook with it.

    The night before you want to cook pancakes (or few nights, if you are a long-term planner), strain the yogurt. The way I do it is to cut a piece of cheesecloth large enough to cover a colander when folded in two. Then I cover the colander with two layers of cheesecloth, empty the yogurt container into it, tie the ends to create sort of a pouch and hang it overnight to drain.
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  • KDOT Builds An Unintentional Express Lane

    KDOT’s recently completed construction of the 75th Street collector-distributor exit ramp lane did not alleviate traffic backups that predictably occur in that area during the rush-hour at least twice a day. Anyone who drives on I35 with any regularity would’ve predicted that before any concrete was poured into that project. Traffic jams occur not because people are trying to exit on the 75th st; they are caused by an inflow of morons merging into the traffic and immediately attempting to reach the left lane so they don’t miss their exit to I635 several miles later.

    Luckily there is a silver lining and the said lining can only be found on this blog, well-known for its optimism and positiveness. While the project completely failed in its original intent, KDOT has unintentionally created the first ever express lane in the Kansas City Metro Area.

    On this video (made by an extremely unidentified driver) you can see how the long and winding exit lane with more tunnels than a Hutchinson prairie dog town, conveniently bypasses the entire traffic jam and safely gets back on the highway.

    Now if only someone would get rid of the long stop light at the end of the exit ramp.

    In the meantime, we are looking forward to KDOT’s other poorly engineered projects and their unintentional results.

  • Behind The Iron Curtain – #1 and #2

    After a nice time in the living room you may be thinking about visiting the restroom because…well, let’s just say you want to. Toilets, restrooms, outhouses, toilet paper, outdoor plumbing and all the related paraphernalia is the next chapter of my “Behind the Iron Curtain” series.

    Toilet paper.

    Toilet paper was hard to find. If it was available you had to stand in line like the one on this picture and then it was probably limited to a certain number of rolls per person. A proud new owner of the precious TP would head home with a bunch of rolls hanging around their neck causing jealous reactions from the not so lucky bystanders. Of course that was not soft, quilted or baby skin toilet paper that American buttocks are so used to. It was more like your printer paper in a roll, maybe a little thinner but still required substantial calluses in certain places. And calluses we had: since the paper was not readily available everything served the purpose. It could be magazines, newspaper, stolen forms from work. I distinctly remember reading an obit for some communist party honcho in the paper before using it for its intended purpose, and the guy died in 1983. In more civilized houses the newspaper was pre-cut into squares, in others you had to rip it yourself. Outdoors people used leaves and whatever else was easy to reach, I myself once split an empty cigarette box with my buddy when nothing else was available.
    Now with toilet paper in hand you are about to discover the facilities.
    To be continued.

  • Old Photos: Kansas City’s Golden Calf

    Found this cool photo via Google Life Photo Archives. This bull is still standing in Kansas City, in a different spot and on a shorter pedestal.

    Plastic bull in Kansas City on top of Pylon in front of American Hereford Assn. Building. © Time Inc.Joseph Scherschel

  • Old Photos: 1948 London Olympics

    This article was published in the Life Magazine on August 23, 1948.

    American Athletes Sweep the Olympics

    They win 38 gold medals in games marked by many broken records, lots of rain but few quarrels – California beats all except three countries, but Dutch housewife takes top individual honors.

    For 17 days – except for one night when there was trouble with the gas line – the torch flamed brightly in Wembley, England. From July 29 to Aug. 14 it was the symbol of the 14th modern Olympiad. Last week, after a brief closing ceremony, the gas was turned off and 5,000 athletes from 59 nations were on their way home.
    The ceremonial dignity of the Wembley Olympiad was no match for the neopagan histrionics which characterized Adolf Hitler’s 1936 spectacle in Berlin. But by the athletic standards the show was superb, despite the fact that the weather was the worst in Olympic history (the sun shone only three days). The general decorum of competing athletes was admirable, and only a very slight international tension followed a disputed U.S. victory in the 400-meter relay. The U.S. team of sprinters won the race by seven yards but was disqualified when a British judge ruled that the Americans had passed the baton in an illegal manner. When the film record of the race proved the judge had erred, the U.S. was adjudged the winner in an elaborate show of good feeling. This deprived the British of their only track and field gold medal and gave the Americans another to add to the 10 they had already won.
    The U.S. Olympic sweep – 38 first-place medals- was overwhelming. In men’s track and field and swimming the U.S. scored more first and second places than all Europe combined, although the final unofficial point totals reflected the prowess of other countries in such peripheral sports as fencing and Greco-Roman wrestling. Considering comparative manpower and coaching standards, the parade of the U.S. track and field winners to the Wembley Stadium victory platforms was no surprise. And the unprecedented U.S. triumph in men’s swimming was made possible only because the Japanese were not permitted to compete. (Other absentees: the Germans, who were not invited, and the Russians who snubbed the whole show.)
    California athletes alone scored more points than any country except Sweden, France and Hungary. The two U.S. sensations were both Californians: Vicky Draves, who won both of the women’s diving championships, and Bon Mathias, a 17-year-old schoolboy who won the decathlon. But the greatest Olympic performer was not an American at all. It was Holland’s Fanny Blankers-Koen, the only person to win three individual championships.

    The U.S. Olympic teams leaving on the SS America. July 1948.
    © Time Inc.Cornell Capa

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