leftovers · sweet

Apples and Looking Back over My Shoulder

dried cherries and bread cubes

As this year draws to its end and with all the New Year craze on, I would like to stop for a moment, take a deep breath and look back. I remember myself looking back since I was in the second grade (! remembering the good ol’ innocent (!) days of the first grade, can you imagine?), mostly regretting and imagining what I would have said, done or avoided saying / doing. At times I seem to be particularly enjoying it, indulging in reveries guided by a completely anti-historic method of ‘ah esli b…‘ (‘if only…‘). The third conditional is my favourite one in such moments. I can re-think just about everything, re-imagine, change and re-live it all in my head. This also leads to this peculiar feeling of being able – later – to experience the same thing again, as if all this will happen once more one sunny (or not) day. It’s weird that I also tend to ‘switch off’ from time to time when something important is going on and then struggle to recall the details, words and order of the events. What I do remember usually and what remains in my head after all is a synaesthetic something, with specks of music, smells, noises, colours, weather and weird scraps. I can then revive the whole thing by just remembering a single movement, hearing some notes or tasting a long-forgotten flavour, which make the memory unfold like a chain in front of you, link by link.

There’s also my interest and tender feelings towards the former times – all those movies, books, paintings but especially music… (If at this point you are already tired, please scroll down to some food – I do remember I promised it!)

My Mum remembers lots of details, my sis knows all the special dates of her life and I’d better stick to my sketchy memory to musolit’ the favourite moments (I failed to find an appropriate translation for musolit’ – usually discuss over and over again, but the literal meaning is lick and suck at a piece of food in your mouth). Memory is a tricky thing.

So, aaaahm, yes, what am I looking back at exactly? This year of course, 2012, with all its gifts of such a varied kind. I do think this year was singularly rich in experience and life lessons – which I should have learned aaaaa whiiile ago – like never wish bad things to others, never judge by appearance, never be afraid of changes and never look back with regret (the last one is particularly difficult to observe!). I’ve had numerous lessons which I even cannot put down to words. The year started off quite nightmarishly and gave me a ‘chance’ to get a glance into what your life can do to your memory and what miserable pieces of that greatest-gift life your memory may retain. In May there was a bitter-sweet separation from my Granny and the coming of spring, bringing a recovery for my exhausted family. I’ve had really bad nightmares after that and really nice dreams; I’ve had lots of ‘if only‘s which actually did show me there’s always an alternative, you just have to go for it. The 2012 autumn was very special and cognitive (for the lack of a better translation of poznavatelny) but also very personal. Yes, I would call it a very personal year, with some hope of personal development in the next one, hehe. In the professional sphere there were definitely the three jobs – the antisocial me2computer2me back&eye-killer first, the crazy plunge into the Soviet glamour & pseudo-bohemian veeery phony theatrical life with the second and the looking into the mirror created by each person I worked with during the third. There are some conclusions and things to remember and – again – lots of experience, mostly with the last job. I think I’ve also partially lost (or half-broke) that ‘rose glasses’ attitude towards job market I had in 2011. And with no international travelling (apart from Ukraine), this was a more interior year – not only because I was rambling across the North of Russia but because with these trips I was also travelling inside myself. Hmm, it seems I’m ready to appreciate this year with all it ups and downs! And I think I would vote for November, yep.

Apple Banana Cake

And one more thing – I’ve had a thought recently that I would like to use this space to express my ideas as well as to share my recipes. One of the things that happened to me this year is that I gradually started to share my thoughts&feelings, although I do remain quite reserved. I do not like writing diaries cause you always have this thought in the back of your mind that somebody might eventually read this stuff (or you even wish someone did!) and so the whole thing becomes rather artificial and lacking in sincerity. And what can be worse than being insincere already with yourself? So why not sending my ideas into the cyberspace rather than writing (which hmm I actually enjoy more than typing) especially if I already have the intention to be read. Even if just by me some years from now.

This year has brought me quite a few amazing recipes, apparent failures and to-stay staples. For those who would rather get some food ideas than reading my sentimental stuff;), the time has come! And if you’re into the craze and already looking for your New Year table see these posts to get some Russian / Soviet gourmet ideas: pryaniki to match your samovar tea, Selyodka pod Shuboj for hang-over and surely a potful of cold  salad Olivier for the same purpose;) And there WILL BE NEW THINGS about New Year in the USSR, don’t you worry!.

You surely remember we’ve got an enormous amount of apples this year and I’m baking apple cake after apple muffins after apple everything. We have already prepared apple puree enough for the crowds but still there are those winter apples all around the place. Here are some great recipes for apples.To finish with them! =)


Gramma’s Apple Bread Pudding  – I didn’t go far for this recipe – the very popular allrecipes.com provided me with what I really needed. Having already tried this great Berry Bread Pudding from www.nanhamilton.com, I’ve had a thought to combine the bread with apples.

Yes, the advantage of such puddings is that you can use up your leftover white bread – it should be still soft for this recipe. I left the crust on. This pudding is like a cake that you can cut into portion sized slices.

As usual, to avoid copyright, here are only the changes I’ve made to the original recipe:

Instead of raisins I threw in some dried cherries (pictured on the top of the post) + walnuts for an extra crunch. My 1 cup of brown sugar contained a fair share of white sugar. Instead of margarine I used butter.

For the vanilla sauce, I added some cinnamon + orange zest and… actually omitted vanilla extract making my sauce completely un-vanilla.)

The procedure is very simple, you just throw in everything (I was lazy enough to use a separate bowl, so I mixed the ingredients right in the baking dish). The result – a bit weird but I liked it. A lazy recipe to bring in some change after all those cakes-muffins-tarts…

Now on to…

apples ready to be baked

Apple Banana Cake adapted from  www.sugarlaws.com  makes a thin but delicate-looking cake. And you can ‘accidentally’ forget the sugar, making this cake even a bit hhmm not healthier but LESS white-deathly =) (sugar being often called belaya smert’ – white death – in Russian, along with salt)

Again, changes:

I FORGOT sugar, but the cake is rather sweet with all the bananas and honey. Instead of un-loved cloves I used cardamom. And surely my apples were far from being anywhere close to ‘large’. As the apple slices were thus thinner and smaller, I took my cake out from the oven before the required 1 hour and ten minutes.

Apple Banana Cake

{photo taken by my Mom with her favourite tea set}

As this recipe requires pre-baking the apple slices in the oven, I decided to bake some whole apples alongside. This is actually the first thing my Mum does when making apple puree. By the way, this cake although quite flat has apples even on the bottom! So be sure to grease the springform very well.

The result goes like this:

Apple Banana Cake

{looks like a rose from above}

And if you’re still desperately struggling with your winter apples, here’s what I chose to treat my colleagues, fitting in there so many apples, they really did make an entire layer – the huge Sunday Morning Apple Coffee Cake from www.food52.com. This will really help you fight them apples! And no need to bake it on a Sunday morning, of course, mine was eaten over a Friday;) I added some walnuts, swapped orange juice for, yes, apple juice, and of course my apples were those smallish tight red apples that keep on until New Year (and beyond that, no doubt).

How is your 2012 patchwork? Anything to remember? I hope loads of things – and gourmet too!



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