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For Your Christmas Baking Pleasure: Uncle Vanya’s Bread Balls

bread ball recipe

Warning: Don’t forget Uncle Vanya’s cast-iron rolling pin is always ready for those disrespectful of his recipe.

Make sweet roll dough as follows:

1/2 cup warm water
2 (1/4 ounce) packages active dry yeast
(Uncle Vanya uses cake yeast. Don’t tell him if you use dry packets)
1 1/2 cups milk, lukewarm (Uncle Vanya says you must scald!)
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup shortening
7 -7 1/2 cups flour

Directions:

1 Mix water and yeast in large mixing bowl.
2 Stir until dissolved.
3 Add milk, sugar salt, eggs, shortening and 1/2 of the flour.
4 Mix until smooth and pour out onto floured surface. Knead while adding the additional flour. Knead until smooth and elastic( about 5 minutes). Note that Uncle Vanya does not own a watch, so this time is approximate.
5 Round up in greased bowl with greased side up. Cover with damp cloth.
6 Let rise in warm place until double (about 1&1/2 hours).
7 Punch down; let rise again until almost double. (No short-cuts, single rising stuff, says Uncle Vanya)
8 Dough is ready to to make into balls now.

Filling:

2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts (no peanuts, but other nuts can be used)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups finely chopped peeled tart apples (Other fruits such as currants, cranberries, anything tart, can be substituted)

Directions

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into about a dozen small rounds. Spread with butter. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, nuts, cinnamon and nutmeg; add fruit and toss to coat. Place a manageable amount on each round of dough and press the dough together, sealing the filling inside. Do a good job. Uncle Vanya does not approve of leaky bread balls)

Place in a greased 11-in. x 7-in. baking dish. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 40 minutes. (Yes, babooshka, they rise three times!)

Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Tatiana also likes to deep fry them like doughnut holes, just until they are crispy brown on all sides.

ICING (or you could just roll them in cinnamon sugar while they are warm, says Tatiana)

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
2-1/2 teaspoons whole milk
Combine icing ingredients until smooth; drizzle over warm balls. Yield: 1 dozen.

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Illustrated Version: (The image above , Uncle Vanya’s recipe copied down on a napkin by Edward Ferrars for Elinor, is included in this version)

http://www.amazon.com/Illustrated-Tobacconist-Alexander-Legacy-ebook/dp/B009SG3WXO

 

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Visha’s Antidote

“What an amazing story! I had speculated that you must have saved his life.”

“I would give my life for his if I could. Do I need to save him from you?”

Visha bolted out of her chair and paced the room. “Do I need to give this back to you?” She held out the pouch. “I have not taken it yet. I have kept your secrets from Dodge. I have bared my soul to you. I have told you everything I am and everything I know about Dodge. But you still do not believe me. What must I do to prove myself?”

“Do you know where Dodge is? Can you tell me how to find him?”

“No to both questions. When he wants me he sends for me.”

“What will he do when he realizes you have betrayed him?”

“He will get hold of me, try to make me tell him everything about you, and then kill me.”

“Have you endangered all of us by coming here?”

Visha stopped dead. She turned toward me, opened her mouth, shut it, and crumpled to the floor, knees hitting hard, hands lax on the carpet, eyes desolate.

“I have, haven’t I? It was such a clever plan I had, to pretend to Dodge that I was with Trevor. But he will know. Of course he will know. What am I to do?” She clutched the pouch. “If I take this, all of it, I can go to some alley and he will find me dead. He will never know I have been here, will he? He cannot know everything so quickly. Two or three hours. That’s all it has been. I just wanted to — I only thought — ”

She began to cry but made no sound. My side had begun to ache, but I got up and moved to stand over her. Once more I put a hand on her soft, shining black hair. She flinched a little but did not raise her eyes.

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At Fagin’s Final Rest Mortuary

The walls were patterned like glittering silver and black marble, with slender pillars spaced along the sides. Niches held blue flames behind ornate silver gratings cast in the shape of openwork doves.

Black benches cushioned with blue velvet, very like church pews, were arranged facing a black velvet curtain fringed with silvery tassels. We took seats at the direction of the same two assistants who had accompanied Jessica Fagin to get the body. At least, to my eyes they appeared the same. Fagin appeared from behind the curtain a moment later and the men faded off to the sides.

“Welcome,” Fagin said. “This place is for you. Grieve, celebrate, pray, praise — The official time when others may come has been published widely in newspapers, by wireless, and by posted bills. After the time of the public visitation has expired my attendants and I will leave. We will set the doors to lock automatically and unlock from the inside only, so that you may remain protected here or leave at any time you wish. Stay through the night if you desire to keep vigil.

“You will not be disturbed or interrupted before dawn, as the locks will be timed to deny outside entry. In the morning, my attendants and I will return to lay your friend to rest.” Fagin herded her attendants toward the back of the room. Two hours had been advertised for the visitation this evening. The curtain at the front opened of its own accord and we saw the barrow carrier behind it, curtains drawn to the back, fully exposing the fragrant, wrapped body of Charley Bates resting on it.

To our surprise, people began to arrive. Charley Bates had evidently been a popular fellow in London, but the class of people who began to trickle in paid no compliment to his own character or the company he kept. We of the Legacy Company immediately went on guard as these filthy, shuffling, shifty-eyed mourners filed in and passed by Bates’ body before finding seats. We managed to spread ourselves out among them and kept a careful watch.

Madame Phoebe stepped to the lacquered black podium and began to sing as more people entered the auditorium. Her glorious voice poured out prayer and praise and we saw wonder, discomfort, all manner of emotions, flicker across the faces of the newer arrivals.

We of the company had to force ourselves to remember that we were in this place, after all, for more than just the solution to a mystery. it was not so difficult, however, hearing this angelic voice reminding us that God controlled what seemed like madness and mayhem to our weak human vision. To their credit, this rabble quieted their whispers and cackles and snorts upon entering. Reverend Ferrars pointedly greeted and shook the hand of every stranger in that strange assembly, producing much more discomfort. After a half-hour the stream of mourners seemed to stop.

“We welcome you all here,” Madame Phoebe said. “This is not a church, but we who believe in Christ have brought Him here in our hearts. Do not harden your own hearts, but let Him do a work here tonight.” She seated herself. Edward approached the podium and set his Bible upon it. When he adjusted his half-glasses into place and opened the Book before him, some even bowed their heads as he began to pray.

“Gracious Heavenly Father,” he said in a clear, carrying voice, “You brought Charley Bates to us, though he thought he came of his own will, to do his own will. Instead he found Christ. You have now brought these others, people who thought they came of their own will, for their own reasons. May we see these find Christ as well. You have not taken Charley from us, but merely brought him home to yourself. In Christ’s name we have come, and in His Name we say Amen.

“The book of Job always comes to mind when I think of funerals,” Edward said, looking up and beaming innocently around on that very mixed multitude. “Think of the horrible incidents where Satan attacked Job. Think of all that he lost and all that he suffered. But remember that God said to Satan, ‘Spare his life’.

“And God did protect Job’s life. Not that it mattered to Job about his physical life. His wife nagged him to ‘Curse God, and die’, but Job said, ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust him’. We who take every precaution to protect, nourish, and cherish our physical bodies and lives cannot comprehend this. ‘Though this body be destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God,’ Job assured us.

“In the New Testament, Christ says, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in me though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die. Believest thou this?’ He said this on his way to the tomb of a dead man. Do you know what He meant?

“Stop thinking you must serve a wicked master because only he will feed you, shelter you, protect you. Let God free you from domination. Charley Bates fell into our company from a great height and no doubt thought his life was over. Understand that you must lose your life to save it, by falling into the everlasting arms of God. Those arms are always underneath us, and they will catch us.”

Edward looked around. I put my arm around Kera because she began to tremble beside me. Madame Phoebe laid a comforting hand on Oliver Twist as he began to weep, overcome by his memories, his pain, and perhaps truly at the thought of Charley Bates having been so briefly his brother in Christ.

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Conversion of Visha Kanya

“Why was Archibald Campbell poisoned?” I snapped.

“First, please, about my soul … ”

I stared at her, trying to discern whether she only mocked me. To my astonishment, Visha bowed her head and tears flowed down her pale cheeks. She lifted her eyes to me.

“Do you not see that I have been taught there is no hope, no life, only power and death? I have heard that this God gives hope but I know nothing beyond the mockery I have heard all my life. They say I must beat my breast and say, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner,’ and then they laugh. I cannot tell if this is truly what I must do, or if God would strike me dead with lightning for speaking to Him.

“Does not God open the earth and swallow the proud alive? I have been very proud of my beauty, of my skill with the sword, of my poisons. Does He not chase those who worship idols with poisonous snakes? I have clasped the knees of Kali in prayer a hundred times. Is there not a plague that devours prostitutes? I have received many men into my bed. And do not murderers go into a lake of fire burning forever? I have been told at one time or another that all these fates await me. And then the teller laughs and laughs at my fear. But whether any of these things are real or not, I know that my fear is real.”

“But there was also a seditionist and a murderer who was pardoned, in whose place Jesus Christ was condemned and crucified. That man, condemned to death, went free, and Christ died instead. Another criminal hung on a cross beside Him, confessed himself worthy of death, but asked Christ to remember him and was told he would join the Lord in paradise that very day. The Lord is gracious, slow to anger, and of great mercy.”

“I have much need of mercy.”

“Will you acknowledge Christ as your Savior and turn away from your sin?”

“Yes.”

More tears flowed. I did not know what to do. Nothing had prepared me for this event. No killer I had ever faced had begged to accept Christ. I had long since ceased to expect repentance from the wicked people I pursued.

“Will you surrender yourself to the authorities to answer for your crimes?”

“Florrie, I should, and I am willing, but I have an idea that I had better help you stop Dodge first.” Visha flashed the first full, genuine smile I had seen on her beautiful face.

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