To Perk You Up During Tax Time

Hoping April hasn't been too cruel a month for you so far, although dreaded Tax Day approacheth. I got it over with and sent in the check (can't remember the last time we've seen a refund around here...), but if you still have that hurdle ahead, one of my latest reads should cheer you up.

The cover I enjoyed
But you might also see it like this

This was a wonderful memoir covering the author's extended family's life in Moscow, from the 1910s (end of the Tsarist era), to the birth and development of the Soviet Union, to its dissolution and almost present-day Russia.

No matter our tax burden, at least we're not living under Stalin! We've got bounteous food on our store shelves, private kitchens in our homes (rather than communal apartments), and none of our past leaders have been embalmed for us to pay homage to. Knowing almost nothing about Soviet history, this book was nonstop fascinating and sometimes funny. Her chapters are organized around eras and the food that typified the era, for which recipes are found in the appendix.

I don't know about you, but I'd only had Russian food once, prepared for us by an Uzbeki couple. There was something fishy, something potato-y, several things mayonnaise-y. All quite tasty. The recipes in Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking are quite elaborate in many cases and nothing I plan on attempting soon. But since my book club will be doing a Russian-themed evening for The Madonnas of Leningrad this summer, and since I had boiled eggs on hand for Easter, I decided to try my hand at what looked simplest.

(Note: we're not doing a Madonnas of Leningrad-themed dinner because the characters suffer through the Siege of Leningrad and end up eating rats and library glue and such.)

Wikipedia's version, although mine looked pretty much the same

Salat Olivier
3 lg boiling potatoes, cooked, peeled, and diced
2 med carrots, cooked, peeled, and diced
1 lg apple, peeled and diced
2 med dill pickles, diced
1 med cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
3 boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1 16-oz can peas, drained (I'd substitute frozen)
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1 Tbsp dried dill
12 ozs lump crabmeat (or cooked chicken)

1 cup mayo
1/3 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp white vinegar
salt to taste

Combine all salad ingredients. Whip up dressing ingredients and toss well. Refrigerate until serving.

A couple comments: I didn't like the fake crab I used and would rather have had chicken. In fact, I'd probably prefer the salad vegetarian, with thawed, frozen peas substituted for the drab canned peas. This keeps well in the fridge for a couple days and is appropriately colorful (for an off-season salad) and mayonnaise-y for that Russian feel.

Anyhow, whether you're a potato salad fan or not, I highly recommend the entertaining book. Enjoy.