McFarland Publishers Archive

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Angelica’s minimalist wardrobe – ideas about minimalist essentials

29.07.2016 Posted in Writing No Comments

Those who have been following my blog know that my biography about Angelica Balabanoff  The Strange Comrade Balabanoff: The Life of a Communist Rebel has been published by  McFarland Publishers in June. To celebrate the book launch, for the time being I will dedicate my blog to various themes about Angelica including her friends, her hobbies and her recipes. I would like to devote today’s article to Angelica’s minimalist wardrobe and her style which was just as audacious as she was. She had never liked shopping and had a very simple daily routine. “Angelica had been allergic to fashion from the time she had been forced to accompany her mother on the endless shopping tours in Chernigov. Angelica’s choice of simple clothing was clearly made to underline her new social status as a ‘working girl.’ Following a general ‘socialist-democratic fashion,’ she wore long, loose-fitting skirts, even if they made her look more voluminous than she was, simple turban-draped covers for her head, to avoid constantly brushing her hair, and an occasional long necklace.”* Nonetheless, she was a modern and avantgarde woman though not necessarily always elegant. Throughout the years she managed to create her own style which was as daring as her personality. She wore reality not clothes. Many of us try to look like someone else or from time to time possess fashionable clothing items. Angelica did not want to look like anyone else. She remained true to her own self. In this sense she created her own style. Her wardrobe consisted of a […]

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Angelica’s recipes – Beetroot and ginger chocolate brownies

8.07.2016 Posted in Cooking, Writing No Comments

As you know my biography of Angelica Balabanoff ‘The Strange Comrade Balabanoof: The Life of a Communist Rebel‘ has been published in June by McFarland Publishers. To celebrate the launch of the book I decided to make the Beetroot and ginger chocolate brownies. I chose this recipe for two reasons. Firstly Angelica was very fond of sweets and chocolate, secondly I collect ‘reddish’ recipes which always make an interesting entry for my blog. Beetroot and ginger chocolate brownies These purple-hued brownies have an earthy taste and are a little fiery, giving you one of your five a day in a very wicked way. There is debate as to whether a brownie should be cakey or fudgy: these are definitely on the gooey side. Ingredients Makes 24 500g fresh beetroot 200 plain chocolate (70% cocoa) 100g unsalted butter, plus extra for the tin 1 tsp vanilla extract 250g golden caster sugar 3 eggs 100g plain flour 25g cocoa powder 3 balls of stem ginger  1 Line a 20cm x 30cm tray with greaseproof paper. Simmer the beetroot in hot water until soft, then, wearing rubber gloves, slip off the skins. (I used precooked beetroots). Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. 2 In a food processor, mix together the chocolate, hot beetroot, butter and vanilla extract until the mix is as smooth as you can get it. (As I used precooked beetroots which were cold, I first melted butter and chocolate for 3-4 minutes on a low heat, mixing it then in a […]

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Angelica’s recipes – Ideal Meal on a Budget

12.02.2016 Posted in Cooking, Writing No Comments

Those who have been following my blog know that I have a book coming out about Angelica Balabanoff at McFarland Publishers in September, The Strange Comrade Balabanoff: The Life of a Communist Rebel. To celebrate the book launch, for the time being I will dedicate my blog to various themes about Angelica and amongst others her favorite recipes. In point of fact, Angelica did not cook. She was not even interested in food. For the majority of her life she was a vegetarian. Nonetheless, food played an important role in her existence. She used food to fight bourgeois traditions, which was the main battle of her life. My first blog post about Angelica’s recipes was devoted to her favorite food – cheese sandwiches. This one is about the only dish she could make – an omelet. All her life Angelica rented small rooms, moving every two years to a new place. And if the rooms had cooking facilities (which was not always the case), she had a pan to make omelets. I have already made an omelet to honor Angelica in my blog of July 10, 2015. Today’s omelet is not an ordinary one. It is an omelet she used to make when she lived on a low budget in Paris in the 1920s-1930s and when ” An omelet of two eggs beaten with a bit of bread soaked in milk was a royal and rare meal.” To make it I got: 2 free-range eggs, salt, freshly ground black pepper, 2 […]

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Angelica’s Recipes – Beetroot Caviar

7.08.2015 Posted in Cooking, Writing No Comments

Those who have been following my blog know that I have a book coming out about Angelica Balabanoff by McFarland Publishers in September, The Strange Comrade Balabanoff: The Life of a Communist Rebel. To celebrate the book launch, for the time being I will dedicate my blog to various themes about Angelica and amongst others her favorite recipes. In point of fact, Angelica did not cook. She was not even interested in food. For the majority of her life she was a vegetarian. Nonetheless, food played an important role in her existence. She used food to fight bourgeois traditions, which was the main battle of her life. My first two blog posts about Angelica’s recipes were devoted to her favorite food – cheese sandwiches and the only dish she could make – an omelet. This one is about the beetroot caviar. Beetroot caviar was  widely popular in Russia in the 19th century. There is little doubt that the dish was often made in Angelica’s house in Chniogov during her childhood while multiple recipes of beetroot caviar have been published in the 19-century cook books. This brilliant magenta puree dramatically elevates the humble beetroot. It’s simple and cheap to make, too. Use as a dip with warm blinis, cubes of dark, almost chocolatey rye bread, or any good crusty bread. Ingredients: Serves 4-5 225g fresh beetroot; 40g walnuts; 4 prunes, pitted; 1 1/2 tbsp brandy; 0.5 lemon; 1 garlic clove; Salt and black pepper; 100 ml sour cream or creme fraiche; 3g fresh dill;  Blinis or dark rye bread, to serve. 1 Preheat the oven to […]

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Dinner with Mussolini – Part I

30.10.2015 Posted in Cooking, Writing No Comments

Those who have been following my blog know that I have a book coming out about Angelica Balabanoff by McFarland Publishers in the Fall 2015, The Strange Comrade Balabanoff: The Life of a Communist Rebel. To celebrate the book launch, for the time being I will dedicate my blog to various themes about Angelica, her life, friends and favorite recipes. In one of my previous blogs I wrote about Angelica’s dinner with Lenin that took place in 1918 described by her in her memoirs My Life as a Rebel. In her book about Mussolini The Traiter Angelica mentioned a dinner she had with Mussolini in 1912. Two dinners with two greatest men of the 20th century. Both stunning by their simplicity. As a rule she was not interested in food. This time she went through the menu mentioning “… delicious macaroni with cheese, past’asciutta, house wine [for Mussolini] and water” for Angelica. Trying to put myself in Angelica’s shoes, even though I did not have anyone in front of me to act as Mussolini, I decided make both dishes. There are numerous recipes of Macaroni with Cheese. As I know that Angelica never had an oven, I opted for a basic stovetop recipe with no added chicken, ham or shrimps. Ingredients 1 1/4 cups uncooked elbow macaroni (about 6 ounces) 1 cup 1% low-fat milk 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper Preparation Cook pasta according […]

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Biography of Angelica Balabanoff – extract from the book

16.10.2015 Posted in Writing No Comments

Those who have been following my blog know that I have a book coming out about Angelica Balabanoff by McFarland Publishers in the Fall 2015, The Strange Comrade Balabanoff: The Life of a Communist Rebel. To celebrate the book launch, for the time being I will dedicate my blog to various themes about Angelica, her life, friends, recipes and extracts from my book. To start with here is an extract from the Introduction that gives  insight into the book. Let me know how you liked it. Introduction Had she ever been married? Or had kids? Was she really a mistress of Lenin, Mussolini, Trotsky and Stalin? Was Edda Mussolini, the eldest daughter of the infamous dictator, her daughter? Angelica’s life was full of mysteries and unexplainable events. … Her life might have seemed odd, eccentric and somber. Yet a few years before her death she wrote to her friend, Ella Wolfe, the wife of the American socialist, historian and writer, Bertram Wolfe, the words that depicted her personality better than any other: “Believe me, even if I had much money at my disposal I would not like to live better than I do now. It was the dream of my life – since my childhood, to share the sufferings and deprivations of the poorest among the poor. As a matter of fact it so happened that I never did – I lived also (please check this quote-it does not sound right. if this is exactly what she wrote in English, you […]