The Cherry Orchard

How this Fast Diet Lifestyle works: Eat these meals tomorrow, for a calorie total of less than 600. On another day this week, eat the meals from a different post, another day of eating 600 calories or less. Eat sensibly the other days of the week. That’s it. Simple way to lose weight and be healthier.

The Cherry Orchard, the last play by Anton Chekhov, had its debut in 1904 on his birthday January 17. He called the play a comedy, viewers often see it as a drama, but in its heart it is an allegory of the times in which he lived. In brief, the play centers around a land-owning lady who returns to her childhood home. There she had lived with her husband, raised their children, and suffered the death of her husband and son. Due to her inability to manage money, she and her family are on the edge of bankruptcy. A solution might be to cut down the family’s large cherry orchard and sell off lots for summer cottages, but the family will not hear of it. By the end of the play, the land has been sold, the family leaves their home forever, and the cherry trees are being cut down as the curtain falls. Why a play about this silly woman and her trees? The story takes place in post-feudal Russia. The serfs have been freed and can become upwardly mobile — like the business man who buys the land. In pre-Revolution Russia, there was a clash of old ideas [privileged aristocrats exiting Stage Left] and new ideas about individual rights [enter Marx and Lenin Stage Right]. The orchard represents class differences: for the serfs it means hours of labor to prune the trees, to harvest and process the fruit; for the upper-class it is a lovely place to picnic and enjoy because of the work of others. The orchard represents a land-based, old-world economy, cutting it down paves the way for modern ‘Western’ ways of life. The audience got the point and the play has been popular with audiences ever since.

Our meals today are typically Russian, and yes, there are cherries. Blinis lead the way in Act I. And a very typical cabbage soup for the serfs stars in Act II. For everyone, a recipe for Russian-style tea — not the ersatz version from the 1960s, but the genuine article.

Buckwheat Blini Breakfast: 213 calories 5 g fat 3 g fiber 9 g protein 31 g carbs 67.6 mg Calcium NB: The food values shown are for the plated items only, not for the optional beverages. Blini are associated with Russia and caviar. Here they appear in more humble company at breakfast. Sour Cherry Syrup  is just the thing to top them, though cherry jelly thinned with water would be good too. Russians would serve this with strong black tea, sweetened with honey, and garnished with a slice of lemon, called Zavarka.

2 buckwheat blini** 1 oz ham 1 Tbsp/ ½ fl oz Sour Cherry Syrup Optional: blackish coffee [53 calories] or black tea with honey + lemon or mocha cafe au lait [65 calories] or Zavarka++ [21-64 calories]

If previously-made, warm the blini and roll them. Warm and roll the ham, too. Plate them all and lash with the syrup. A simple and tasty meal.

**BUCKWHEAT BLINI:  one batch yields 16 six-inch pancakes, ~1 oz each each = 72 calories 2 g fat 1.6 g fiber 2 g protein 10 g carbs 30 mg Calcium 

1¼ c skim milk ½ c all-purpose flour ½ c white whole wheat flour ½ c buckwheat flour ¾ tsp dry yeast 1 tsp salt 2 two-oz eggs 2 Tbsp butter 3-4 Tbsp water

Heat the milk until warm to the touch. Whisk together the flours, yeast, and salt. Melt butter and let cool a bit. Mix with the warm milk, then whisk in the eggs. Combine wet and dry ingredients until no lumps remain. Let rest 90 minutes on the counter or 12 hrs in a cool place. After the resting, stir the batter and heat a well-seasoned or non-stick skillet. Spritz with non-stick spray, then wipe with a bit of paper towel. To make 6” diameter blini, I used a 3 Tbsp scoop. The batter is thicker than crepe-batter, but thinner than most pancake-batter. It begins to cook as soon as it hits the pan, so tip/rotate the pan with one hand as you add batter with the other. Then use a scraper to nudge the batter over the edges. Cook on one side, as holes form on the top. Then turn and cook on the other side.  TIP: they freeze well

++Russian Tea, Zavarka: with 1 tsp honey = 21 calories 0g fat, fiber, protein 5.5 g carbs 0.3 mg Calcium with 1 Tbsp honey = 64 calories 0g fat, fiber, protein 16.5 g carbs 1 mg Calcium

1-2 cups of teaRecipe from  Peter Kolesnichenko
4-5 heaping tsp loose leaf tea1 cup boiling hot water Put tea into a small tea pot and add water. Let steep 10+ mins, ensuring all tea leaves have sunk to the bottom.
boiling water for tea = kipyatok (кипяток)Pour some tea concentrate into a cup, then fill the cup with boiling water. Adjust amounts, depending on your preferrence.
1-2 tsp honey per cup lemon slice per cupAdd honey and a lemon slice. Keep topping up zavarka with hot water and enjoy drinking real Russian Tea.

Shchi – Russian Cabbage Soup: 280 calories 4 g fat 4.6 g fiber 8 g protein 45 g carbs 37.5 mg Calcium  PB GF- if using GF bread or omitting. This hearty soup can be made with beef and beef stock or with chicken stock or vegetable stock. For Russians, it is the taste of Rodina, the Mother Land.  HINT: This recipe makes enough for four [4] servings.  Recipe author Julia Frey says that this soup ‘will give you the energy you need in the dead of winter.’ [ the name of the soup is pronounced like the word ‘she.’]

4-5 one cup servings
½ of an onion  1 carrot 
1 bay leaf 3-4 whole peppercorns a pinch of salt
1 L./4 c chicken stock
Cut carrot in 3-4 pieces. Combine all the ingredients for the broth and cook 1½ hrsIf using beef: add 1/3 pound stew beef and water. After cooking, remove beef with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Strain broth through a fine sieve to clear it. Discard vegetables and spices. OR use 1 qts quality Brown Stock or Chicken Stock. I used chicken stock, simmered for 30 mins with these ingredients to give the stock a richer flavor. I did not add meat.
7 oz potatoPeel potato, cut in 1/2″ chunks. In a soup pot, put broth, beef and potatoes and bring to a boil.
3/4 cup shredded carrot ½ cup onion 1½ tsp butterShred the carrot and chop the onion.
Saute carrots and onions with butter over low heat until tender and the onions translucent, ~10 mins.
1 cup cabbage, chopped When soup boils, add cabbage and vegetables, [and beef if using] cook  5 mins and turn heat off. Do not to overcook the vegetables! 
2 Tbsp parsley, fresh 1 tsp dill, dried salt and pepper Chop parsley. Add herbs, salt, and pepper to taste. 
As always, soup tastes better if you prepare it ahead of time and let it sit for a few hours or overnight.
2 tsp whipped cream cheese
1 oz sourdough rye bread
Serve each bowl with a dollop of cream and the optional bread.

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