Continuing further East past California,MO U.S.Route 50 enters Missouri State Capital – Jefferson City. Only a lazy Missourian hasn’t visited Jefferson City or at least looked at its photos so I am not going to wear you out with my own.
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These photos of the Santa Claus School where one could get a B.S.C. (Bachelor of Santa Claus) degree for $75 were published in the Life Magazine in 1961. Nowadays, our kids are forced to sit on the laps of uneducated Santas who probably can’t even pass the drug test.Continue reading →
There can’t be a Russian meal without a loaf of bread. Nowadays, with everyone trying to lose weight, bread may not be as essential as it used to be but if you have bread in the house you won’t go hungry. I survived two years in the army by eating mostly bread and butter and whatever edible bits I could find in the crappy food we were given; the bread was always fresh and delicious. I have a 92-year old aunt who will not sit down for a meal without some bread; that comes from living through the war, evacuations, bread rationing and hunger.
I wrote about bread before. Luckily, after years of substandard “wonder” bread, bread-baking is making a comeback in this country as it should. Many people responded to the recent Donna’s post about baking bread. What do I have in common with a lady who lived all of her life on the farm? We bake bread! The commonality ended when she wrote about breeding a cow, but still…
I posted this recipe before ,it was published in Cooks Illustrated some time ago. but this time it will be illustrated and the bread will be rye – even better for you. It apparently promotes weight loss, so I ate about half-a-loaf yesterday hoping to lose a lot of weight.
To start, you will need to assemble these simple ingredients:
- 3 cups of flour (15 ounces) consisting of 8 oz of unbleached all-purpose flour and 7oz of Rye flour, plus additional for dusting work surface.
- 1/4 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
- 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water (7 ounces), at room temperature
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons mild-flavored lager (that would be beer for you- unsophisticated readers)
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
You will also need a large-size cast iron pot or Dutch oven. If you feel like throwing away close to two hundred dollars for a fancy one, be my guest (literally, be my guest), I bought mine for $23.
I also recommend getting a scale. It can have multiple uses in the household especially if you are dealing drugs.
1. Whisk flour, yeast, and salt in large bowl. Add water, beer, and vinegar. Using rubber spatula, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours; I let it sit overnight and even longer. I usually put it in the oven with an oven light turned on to keep it warm. Here is another important step: if you followed directions you should have 9 ounces of perfectly good beer left in the bottle. If you are a gentleman – finish it, if you are a lady – yell at this lazy no-good domestic partner of yours to come make himself useful and finish this nasty beer. If you don’t have anyone to yell at or your domestic partner is another lady, just go ahead and drink it yourself, no reason to waste a good product. Now relax, you are done for the day.
2. Lay 12- by 18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside 10-inch skillet and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam-side down, to parchment-lined skillet and spray surface of dough with nonstick cooking spray. Parchment and Wax paper may look similar but they are not the same, do not use wax paper or you bread will taste like you are sucking on a candle.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger, about 2 hours.
Time for another beer.
3. About 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place 6- to 8-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (with lid) on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly flour top of dough and, using razor blade or sharp knife, make one 6-inch-long, 1/2-inch-deep slit along top of dough.
Carefully remove pot from oven and remove lid. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into pot (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). Cover pot and place in oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake covered for 30 minutes.
Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer.
Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.
Now, if actually waited for 2 hours (I admire your patience) you can finally slice your bread and spread some real butter on it, maybe a pinch of salt of you feel adventurous.
Eat is slow, crunchy crust, warm crumb, amazing smell…
Here is a clip from a very famous 1949 movie Kubanskie Kazaki about the joy and excitement of wheat harvesting at the collective farm.Continue reading →
When I was growing up® we thought that the American food was magically delicious, something like what unicorns would eat, if we knew what the unicorns were. That’s why when we had foreign visitors in our schools, there were specific and strict instructions not to show our guests that we have any interest in their snacks and especially chewing gum. Chewing gum was worth more than its weight in gold and the sneaky elderly capitalists knew it when they were throwing it out by handfuls from the bus window, just to see the kids swarm and fight each other for the precious sticks. It was not uncommon to hear “Let me chew your gum” from someone in school and they didn’t mean a new wrapped one. Slowly but surely the American foods made their way Behind the Iron Curtain, first it was Pepsi in a long and complicated international deal, then McDonald’s.
The line to the first McDonald’s was so long, they made a whole video clip out of it.
Since then most people had enough time to realize that’s not everything is as good as one imagines it to be. Even people who invented McDonald’s and made it in what it is today, a place to get formerly cheap foul-smelling slop, are now looking to previously shunned ethnic cuisines to get their fill of interesting, healthy, unique and delicious foods.Continue reading →
I you’d like to find out what’s going on in American prisons you have two choices: commit a small crime or read the best-selling Prisons For Dummies series. It’s a lot harder (but not entirely impossible) to get yourself locked up in a Russian correctional institution, so for the only other practical choice I recommend renting the documentary Alix Lambert’s The Mark of Cain. The film crew seemed to have unlimited access to prison facilities and inmates (they are called “ZK” in Russian jargon) which resulted in many candid interviews and interesting inside footage. While the movie starts off as a research in prison tattoos, their meaning and role in prison life, it goes on to describe living conditions in said prisons, which make some American lock-ups look like a picnic in a park, albeit with bars on windows and barbed-wired fences.
When I was growing up© the legends about prison life were passed from person to person. Everyone seemed to know somebody whose uncle’s cousin served time or something like that. Prison life wasn’t idolized, we all knew it sucked, but at the same time it had a touch of a legend. I can draw a loose parallel to Jesse James: he was a bloody murderer but somewhat a celebrity at the same time. We knew about tattoos and how a person could get killed for drawing something that wasn’t appropriate for his prison ranking. (The movie actually mentions that there were known cases of tattoos being cut off with the skin.) We heard prison songs, it didn’t matter to us that some of the singers had never seen prison in their life. The songs were sad and hopeful, remorseful, defiant and we all knew them. Tapes were copied thousands of times and sold or passed around. Large part of Russian pop-music still sounds like old prison songs.
By a strange coincidence – another tattoo-related post from XO on the same day when I was watching the movie.Continue reading →