Tag Archives: Sophronia Belle Lyon

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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Still free today — Oliver Twist’s Image-making Machinery

I had felt so helpless, knowing a great evil had been done, and more might be contemplated, while this astounding woman had made sense of it all and fitted it into her quest. How had she known what transpired between myself and the drunken manager? She claimed she had not found me until yesterday. I could not give the matter any more thought, though, for Madame Phoebe spoke again.

“Doctor Twist, please give us your report next.”

“Hold on just a tick, Lady Phoebe.” Oliver Twist hunched his shoulders in a way that had already become familiar to me. “There. Got my imagework from Chancery up.” He nodded toward a blank wall, this one fitted with a large sheet of pure white fabric unlike the flocked brocades in the rest of the room. Everyone looked at him quizzically. He grumbled something inaudible and fiddled with the device again. I saw a ghostly image appear in his now opalescent hatband stone; the faint figure of a dirty, bent, elderly woman.

Then the whole assembled company gasped. I turned my head sharply back to the wall. A light shimmered and an image snapped into focus. It was no grainy, flickering celluloid film. It was as clear as if we all stood in the London Chancery’s squalid environs. A grimy, frizzle-haired old woman wearing a coarse, formerly red and gray-striped skirt, a black shawl and a grimy white shirtwaist, clutching a basket of washing turned abruptly and looked up toward the ceiling of the room. Long, finely-boned hands took possession of the basket and the woman favored the possessor of the hands with a smile.

“‘Allo, lovey. Lookey you, tricked out loik Saint George!” cackled the old woman as dawn broke over the black, huddled buildings behind her. She shuffled a little ways down the street. “Goin’ t’ save this loidy fair from a dragon?”

“Fair though you be, Lady Gertie, today my quest is to find someone else,” the voice of Oliver Twist replied. The conversation, clear and real as if the people were in the room, appeared to originate from the device in Twist’s hands just as Madame Phoebe’s voice had come from it last night. He twisted a knob to reduce the volume for a moment and spoke over his recorded patter of soothing words reassuring the woman.

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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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