Have been planning this post for half a month already! The thing is, I’m currently employed at the new opera production with an international production team. It takes a lot of time, nerves and language adjustments (I mean, when you have to translate some obvious stupidities from Russian into English…). So almost no time for taking photos and writing at least for the upcoming month. But thanks to my country, we’re having two days off after a non-stop working week!!
You won’t believe how much of the stupidities, inefficiency and an overall lack of inter-communication I have encountered over the last days. But what I’m going to tell you today concerns some Soviet food stupidities which we recently discussed with my Mum.
I’ve already told you once that the food, especially during the last 20 years of the USSR, was a subject to rarity and sometimes permanent absence from the stores. The things got considerably worse when moving away (not even far away, suffice to take a regular elektrichka (commuter train) to some small town) from the big cities (mostly Moscow and Leningrad, of course). So, as soon as you see/hear talking of some food appearing in one of the stores, you were hurrying on all speeds there to get hold of this something. This was how we got YET not exhausted stock of cloves, for example, as my Granny and my Mom bought it once for the ‘black day‘ as we called those unhappy days in front of us which might most probably happen. There were even such a notion as ‘sausage elektrichka‘ , used to describe those commuter trains running from Moscow full of people loaded with sausages, cheese, butter, etc., etc., etc. My Mom, for example, when going to her relatives living more to the North-East, used to carry a bag full of butter, while this very region was always famous for its perfect butter… So, the disparities throughout the country, even regarding neighbour regions, were obvious.
Another notion of the period was when buying a certain type of food you were forced to pay for some extra ‘on-top-of‘ food (so called ‘v nagruzku‘ in Russian). Let me explain. For instance, you see available in stores buckwheat, one of the staples of the Russian diet. You’re happy, you’re on cloud nine, you’re ready to buy it. And sure enough everybody does, just as well as the state wants you to buy not only this buckwheat but also to get rid of some foods which were overflowing the stocks and nobody was buying them. So, even if you had absolutely NO need in those extra food you had to buy together with the oh-so-desired buckwheat, you just HAD to buy them too. And in the end you were paying for your buckwheat plus some tin of fish in tomato sauce which had been lying on the shelves for years. Or a pack of flour of the second grade of quality (can you imagine that? hold on, there was even the second freshness!!!). Another possible option was buying a rather costly set of foods (just like the sets for holidays I once told you about), which although included the much sought for product, was actually a combination of various unpopular costly things no one was ever buying. This is how the state managed the ‘market’, the offer and the demand =)
Ok, so now on to the recipe of lovely biscotti I have been meaning to share with you all this time:
Biscotti adapted from linno-yum.blogspot.com will make dozens of crunchy chewy biscotti with your preferred flavours! And also try using something new for a change, like crushed aniseeds, for example!
- 375 g (3 cups) plain flour + I also used some whole wheat flour
- 170 g (3/4 cup) caster sugar – I just used regular white sugar
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 100 g nuts, e.g. almonds, pistachio, hazelnuts, pine nuts – I chose some walnuts and hazelnuts
- The author suggests adding orange zest (which I did) or crystallised orange (nope), or spices such as cinnamon or aniseed (I chose aniseeds, I crushed them a bit and they really added some unusual flavour to my biscotti!).
Method (copied from the original site)
Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon. Next, use your hands to knead the mixture into a smooth dough. Halve the dough.
On a lightly floured bench, roll each portion into a log about 20 cm long.
Place the two logs onto a lined baking tray, and slightly flatten the tops with your hand.
Bake for 25 minutes at 180 ‘C, or until lightly golden.
Remove from oven and leave to cool for a little while.
Reduce oven temperature to 170 ‘C.
Cut each log on the diagonal, to create slices that are about 1 cm thick. Slicing is easiest when using a large serrated knife.
Place the slices onto baking trays and bake for another 15 minutes, or until they start to brown.
Will try to come back sooner than before=) Unfortunately I did not manage to make any photos of what we had for Easter this year, but there was a huge roll with poppy seeds and walnuts, yummy (I tried this Dan Leppard’s Poppy-seed walnut strudel recipe)!