Monday, 28 March 2011

Maslenitsa revisited.

A few weeks ago, we visited about Maslenitsa. I ran a little long with my description of the tradition.

Please indulge me as I reminisce about the bliny party. We started with a couple hundred bliny, wonderful fruit, whipped cream and salmon toppings, plus several bottles of Champaign. Finished the bubbly and almost finished the bliny.

Fruit toppings
Bottles for Maslenitsa
Bliny - war zone
Now I know why so many food groups are given up for Lent. As I mentioned before, the last remaining food group is vegetarian, but I’m trying to make the case to include chocolate. Isn’t a Cadbury egg vegetarian?


Sunday, 20 March 2011

She seemed the lady of leisure...

This month for Crusade # 49 we had to document everything about ourselves and our interests.
I decided to focus on my gardening obsession. Every spring the gardening bug hits me, and though every year I swear to myself to stop digging and start enjoying things that are already growing, the story goes on and on. All of my life, I love the experience of turning dirt with a shovel, planting the seeds and watching the miracle of life. This activity continues to take a significant portion of my free time even here in Texas. Spring in Texas brings marvelous results. Unfortunately, the summer heat and ravenous invertebrates dampen the joy but still, each Spring I look forward to the smell of freshly turned dirt. Hence: “She seemed the lady of leisure, but her hands shrieked- GARDENING”
For this journal spread I photoshoped my photograph into the portrait of Marie-Antoinette. And how could I not use a tutorial provided by Michelle to make these poppies, while waiting for the real ones to bloom.

Thanks Michelle.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Help is a key stroke away

Our hearts go out to all of the victims and their families affected by the catastrophe in Japan. None of us can imagine the extent of human suffering already endured nor can we imagine what these people have before them as they get to the task of recovery.

Right now, all the survivors have is hope. For those of us on the sidelines, now is the time to step up and attempt to ease the suffering. Our readers are intelligent and resourceful folks who will find the appropriate agency. We gently ask all to take the next step to provide some hope to those in desperate need.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Not all those who wander are lost

An inspiration for this mixed media piece was a poem by J.R.R. Tolkien:

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Maslenitsa : Мaсленица

Maslenitsa or Pancake week is celebrated just before the beginning of Lent. In Russian tradition, this is a week free of meat just prior to Lent when all dairy products, fish and eggs are also forbidden. Not sure what is left to eat during Lent, but that is the tradition. Elena mentioned that the remaining food group is vegetarian. Now I know why I’m not a big fan of religious tradition.

B. Kustodiev

So…the week before Lent is a week of celebrating longer periods of daylight and the moderation of the winter weather. Maslenitsa is devoted to the consumption of wonderful pancakes known as a bliny. Bliny are akin to crepes and are filled with all sorts of delicious sweet or salty fillings. Often, Maslenitsa is celebrated with folk festivals. Depending on the weather, activities include snow ball fights and sleigh rides.

P. Gruzinsky

The last day of Maslenitsa is always on a Sunday and is often referred to as the “Sunday of Forgiveness” where tradition calls for the faithful to perform a “poklon” or prostration to ask forgiveness from their friends in order to start Lent with a clean slate or reconciliation. Russians being pragmatic perform this ritual once a year where puritan traditions in early America called for this ritual as a prayer of forgiveness each evening before bed so that the next day could start with a clean slate. This might be why western fundamental Christian practitioners devote so much effort toward the reduction of temptation, in an effort to reduce the length of evening prayer, while Russian tradition calls for living a good life knowing that sin is part of life.

B. Kustodiev
This year Maslenitsa runs from February 28 through March 6. Elena is ramping up to make a massive amount of bliny for Sunday. I’ve asked Elena about the crepe recipe, which is her mother’s and not written down. Perhaps it was Elena’s tenacious trial and error scientific methods or just 30+ years of cooking experience that resulted in a very close approximation of the original recipe. Elena said when it comes to the flour she follows her mother’s approach: “add flour until it feels right.” The end result is bliny so delicious that it has become a new tradition to have a “bliny craving.” Popular toppings or fillings may include caviar to flambéed cherries. Our favorite combination is homemade apple sauce with an apricot top glaze.
Elena selected these marvelous Russian paintings which show wonderful winter landscapes with people celebrating.

In the Maslenitsa tradition, “We beg your forgiveness for such a long, long post.”
Have a great weekend.