Friday, March 30, 2012

Poppy Seed Roll Recipe, and the Soviet Union

One week ago today, my son Tydas was sitting in my house finishing up spring break. I could tell he was bored.

"Spring break sucks when you don't have enough money to go someplace cool." he mentioned....

"Where would you like to go?" I asked.

"Moscow." was his matter of fact response.

Although he was joking, I got it....

The kid goes to school, in Iowa, in the middle of a cornfield, amongst the Amish....

My son is a lot like his father in respect that he really doesn't appreciate having to "buy his time."

He wants what he wants, when he wants it.

The saving grace for him is that his college offers some really fabulous Russian study courses, so once again, like his father....squire Tydus finds himself studying Russian language, history and modern culture.

Sue McGleno has reported that it is the only course that he has tackled with enthusiasm.

Well, it just so happens that in south Minneapolis there is a arguably the finest Russian museum in America.

So I asked my kid if he wanted to go on a field trip over to check out some dissident art work, and to my surprise...he seemed enthused.

Plop, we hop into the bread truck, drive to 5500 Stevens Avenue South, and before you know it, we are about to embark on the "FROM THAW TO MELTDOWN" exhibit.

It was comprised of painting from the 1950's through the 80's.

I've been to the Museum of Russian Art before, and I know my way around, but usually when I go, I've always been with a woman.

When I think back, some of the shows I've seen were really cool.

When Mosha my interpreter from the Siberian arctic came to live with me, we saw the plates and service ware from the Kremlin. It was stunning, and then there was a show featuring Russian farm workers from the south west part of the country during the "Wheat Campaign".

I can't remember the artists name, but the pamphlet to guide us through that collection insisted that dude who painted the series was the #1 "capturing sunlight" painter in the world.

Then there is the numerous times I'd go with Kim Ode, usually prior to one of my government scopes.

What I'm trying to get at I guess is when you go with kinda have to examine each piece of work thoughtfully.

A guy is forced to pause, stare hard, reflect and figure out why what he is seeing is meaningful.

The museum also has a gift shop.

So you guessed it, there's a whole different etiquette that needs to be followed in there.

"Would you like chai sir....mam?"

And then they pour you some green tea and shove you amidst glass cases filled with trinkets that have been grossly marked up.

But with a boy....LOL, the whole experience is so different.

You don't have to go in a specific order.

You don't have to talk in your library voice.

"Hey Tydus....back in that corner is a sculpture room if...." then Tydus interrupts....

"Paintings are cool, but do you really think I'm going to go in a little room to look at carved rocks?"

I'm not sure if I'd ever been prouder in my entire life.

The main theme of this whole dealio was Socialist labor.

Many of the pieces depicted day in the life moments that took place in factory's or areas that employed large machines.

But one of the other themes that Tydus and I noticed was how such a large percentage of this (and many other Russian exhibits) featured women as hero's, or in the least, equals.

I applaud Russian painters for not getting caught up in the exploitation of their women.

It just seems to me that American, French and German painters shroud their female subjects in sex appeal.

Don't get me wrong...I like girls, and I like girls bodies, but c' shouldn't be too difficult to realize that a woman in lingerie pales in comparison to a woman with broad shoulders, a rifle and a look of sincere confidence.

Tydus and I got through the entire show in 50 minutes.

That's about 1/2 of what it takes when I go with a girl.

I did wonder if he was disappointed that there was nothing left to see and asked if he wanted to take another lap.....

"Nah, I'm cool.....I really liked it, thanks for taking me Pa. Did you like it as much as some of the other exhibits you've seen here?"

As we made our way to the door I answered....

"I enjoyed it too, but I will's hard to beat a painting with tanks!"

No further explanation was needed, Tydus smiled most of the way home.

For those of you who are about to celebrate Easter, your dining tradition will not be complete until you learn how to make a Poppy Seed roll.

Poppy Seed rolls are very Eastern Euro, and is a food that binds together neighbors (and neighboring countries that don't exactly love each other).

I've baked numerous recipes over the years, but the recipe I'm posting today comes from "THE FRESH LOAF" Blog site, so after you make this, eat it..and love it, you might want to send them a shout of gratitude.

OK, Easters around the corner...get baking.


1 lb. poppy seeds
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter
1 egg
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup candied orange peel
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chopped almnods
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 egg whites


1 tablespoon instant yeast
1/4 cup warm water
5 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup butter
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

To prepare the filling: Put poppy seeds in a small saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand until cool. Strain the poppy seeds through a fine strainer.

Combine the poppy seeds, walnuts, and almonds in a blender or food processor and grind.

Melt the butter in a skillet. Add the poppy seed mixture and sugar to the skillet and simmer over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the egg, honey, orange peel, lemon peel, and raisins. Whip the egg whites until stiff and then folk into the poppy seed mixture. Let cool.

To make the dough: Prime the yeast in the warm water. Cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles course crumbs. Mix in the salt, and sugar, then mix in the yeast, eggs, egg yolks, sour cream, vanilla extract, and lemon rind. Once the ingredients are mixed and can form a ball of dough, turn out onto a work surface and knead for 8-10 minutes (or use a stand mixer to knead for 5-8 minutes) until the dough is smooth and satiny.

To make the rolls: Divide the dough in two. Roll out each piece into a thin, roughly square shape.

Spread half of the filling onto each piece and then roll the dough up, sealing the seam and ends as tightly as you can

Place each roll onto a baking sheet.

Cover with a damp towel or place the baking sheets into plastic garbage bags and set aside to rise for approximately 90 minutes.

Bake in an oven heated to 350 for 30-35 minutes, until the exterior is golden brown. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes then glaze.

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