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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

How to cook like an authentic Russian peasant

By Anne Willan





JewishWorldReview.com |

SORONESH, Russia — I am landing in the black earth, the agricultural heartland of Russia, 600 miles south of Moscow. I look down from the window of the commuter plane at a patchwork of vast, tree-lined fields, yellow, green and black. "The yellow are crops -- wheat, barley, sunflowers," explains my son, Simon, my host on this trip. "The black is the earth tilled ready to plant winter crops, and the green marks abandoned land, not cultivated since the early '90s and the collapse of communism." We have risen at dawn to take the early commuter flight from Moscow, and in a rapid turnaround we are speeding along a two-lane road in an SUV knockoff from Korea.

Our destination is a 90,000-acre farm, where we are invited for lunch. Driving along, we pass laden truck-trailers carrying 30 tons of grain side-by-side with wooden horse-drawn carts, the axles of all bending beneath the weight of grain. Alerted by mobile phone, a shirt-sleeved little group awaits us (the temperature hovers around 90 degrees), including a couple of women, one a cheerful red-headed agronomist, the other the director of the nearby grain elevator (in her former job she ran a 500-person factory).

We shake hands all around, smile (I do not speak a word of Russian) and repair eagerly to the cool dining room. The table is packed with zakuski, little plates of salads, cured meats and fish that are the universal starter in Russia. Here I spot chopped cucumber with tomato, smoked salmon, pickled herring, pickled cabbage with yellow bell peppers, and the mayonnaise-bound mixture of diced carrot, turnip, peas and green beans that is so common we call it Russian salad in the west. One dish of lightly salted herring (a fish that is plentiful in the Baltic Sea) blanketed with chopped parsley is catchily called "herring in a fur coat." Some rolled packages prove to be blintzes stuffed with fresh cheese.


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"We're getting the executive treatment here," grins Simon, tucking in happily. Beer bottles are passed from hand to hand, but not many; apple juice or water is preferred. This is harvest time, and everyone is at full stretch 18 hours a day, with the combine harvester drivers on duty for 24 hours nonstop. No wonder one guy drove his giant 8-wheeler into a tree just a day ago. We move on to a generous bowl of schii, a refreshing cabbage soup, followed by mashed potatoes with a modest main course. Then comes excellent black tea or instant coffee. No dessert, but who could want more than the candies and cookies already on offer? Talk around the table is all of yield, seed rates and, inevitably, the weather -- I am not the only English-speaker, so languages are mixed. We are lucky; unbroken sun is forecast for the next week, ample time to bring in the largest grain harvest on record in the area. Indeed, the problem is finding a place to store the over-stock of 5,000 tons on just this one farm.

All of this generous spread has the fresh, bright flavors of homemade cooking. I'm intrigued, and with Simon as interpreter I invade the kitchen to find Olga Julickova and another world. On a single giant electric-powered stove, she and two helpers are preparing three meals a day for an average of 100 people, 140 at lunch. There are no machines, not even a water boiler, so cauldrons of water are kept constantly heating on the stove.

These three women do everything by hand, from peeling potatoes to chopping, slicing and washing up. Time is so short that food is taken out to the fields rather than being eaten on the spot. I can only imagine the appetites, and thirsts, of workers out there around the clock. Olga herself starts at 6 a.m. and ends around 11 p.m. -- for a salary, if she is lucky, of around $400 a month. But her round, smiling face shows no sign of fatigue and it's hard to believe she has two children of 15 and 12. She explains she has been cooking since 1992, first as a trainee for two years, then in a canteen. Her ingredients come from Lipitsk, the nearest sizeable town, and most are produced in the area, though she must buy wholesale. She has no refrigerator (and certainly no freezer) in the kitchen, but there's a walk-in cold store across the yard.

Here in Zavalnoe, the "village after the valley," I have been plunged into a time warp that continues throughout my four-day tour of farms in the black earth. Before 2006, farmers had no legal rights to land and therefore no incentive to cultivate it, nor means of raising capital. Thanks to a property law passed in the Russian Duma, all this has changed, but the adjustment has taken time. Foreign investment is pouring in and locals are rapidly learning the cutting-edge technology of modern agriculture. But even now it is estimated that only 35 percent of cultivable land in Russia is actually being worked.

Meanwhile the centuries-old tradition of hospitality continues. Everywhere I've been welcomed, and offered the simple, freshly cooked food that epitomizes the best of life in the countryside the world over. Long may it last!





RUSSIAN BEET AND POTATO SALAD

This classic Russian salad includes the beet tops as well as the vivid pink roots. In Russia it forms part of zakuski appetizers alongside small dishes of sliced salami, smoked fish, pickled cucumber and tomato salad. I like to serve the salad with chicken or turkey as an entree salad. If your beets don't have tops, substitute a few leaves of spinach or chard.


  • 1 1/2 pounds beets with tops

  • 2 medium potatoes

  • 2 scallions, sliced including the green tops

Sweet Russian dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard

  • 1 teaspoon paprika

  • 1 teaspoon caraway seed

  • Salt and pepper

  • 1 heaping teaspoon honey

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise

  • 3 tablespoons dry white wine

  • Juice of 1/2 lemon


1. To cook beets and potatoes: trim off tops, leaving an inch of green stem on roots. Do not trim roots (they bleed if cut). Put roots in a pan of cold salted water; cover and bring to a boil. Simmer until tender when pierced with a skewer, 20-35 minutes, depending on size. Drain and leave them to cool. Cut beet tops crosswise in half-inch slices. Bring a pan of salted water to a boil, add beet tops and boil until wilted, 1-2 minutes. Drain, rinse in cold water and leave to drain thoroughly. Put potatoes in a pan of cold salted water, cover and bring to a boil. Simmer until tender, 15-20 minutes. Drain them and set aside.

2. For dressing: Put the sugar, mustard, paprika and caraway seed in a large bowl with salt and pepper. Whisk in the honey and mayonnaise, followed by the white wine and lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning.

3. To mix the salad: Trim tops and roots from beets and slip off cooked skins with your fingers. Cut beets in 3/8-inch dice and stir into dressing. Peel and dice potatoes, then stir into beets. Add beet tops and scallions and stir gently together. Taste the salad, adding more of any of the dressing seasonings. Serve chilled or at room temperature. This salad keeps well up to two days, but scallion should be added just before serving.

Serves 6 as an appetizer or side dish.

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© 2012, Anne Willan. Distributed by Tribune Media Services International