Friday, April 9, 2010
Fort Ross...and an Easter Recipe
Fort Ross, California, a former Russian trading post, is now a state historical landmark, 13 miles northwest of the mouth of the Russian River and 80 miles north of San Francisco. The fort represents the southern-most penetration of 19th century Russians who wished to establish a base on the California coast for sea otter hunting (which was relentless) and for the development of agricultural supplies for Russian settlements in Alaska.
In June 1812, a crew of 95 Russians and 40 Aleuts began to build a redwood fort and stockade on an elevated coastal plateau, and the Czar soon issued an edict closing the Pacific Coast north of San Francisco to all but Russian ships. The Russian government's attempt to control the region was responsible for that part of the Monroe Doctrine of 1823 which declared the New Would was no longer open to aggression by force and European countries could not extend their holdings in it.
With the horrific extermination of the sea otters and fur seals by the Russians, Americans, and British, the Russians increased agriculture and manufacturing in their California colony, but had little success. By the end of 1839, the officials of the Russian American Company ordered the colonists to sell out and return to Alaska. And Captain John A Sutter of New Helvetia (Sacramento) paid $30,000 in produce and gold for the property. For the next several years, his men demolished some of the buildings and removed the arms, equipment and livestock the Russians had left behind.
After 1845, the fort area became the center of a large ranch, its buildings used in various ways. The G. W. Call family purchased the fort and ranch in 1874. After the 1906 Earthquake destroyed the the Chapel, the fort site was purchased by the California Historical Landmarks Committee of San Francisco and presented to the State of California. Restored in 1955-57, Fort Ross is now open to visitors.
In honor of my Russian heritage, I thought I’d share a recipe today for Paska, otherwise known as Easter Bread.
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1/4 cup light cream or half and half
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoon yeast
1/2 cup raisins and glazed cherries, mixed
Heat milk, half and half and butter till butter melts. Add to
remaining ingredients in the order your machine requires. Add the
raisins/cherries when your machine stops for adding "extras".
Use the dough setting. Punch down. Traditional way to bake is to place dough in a coffee can to make the traditional "top hat" shape to bake, but it also works as a round loaf when baked on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350F., about 25 minutes. Cover top with foil for last 10 minutes if it appears to be browning too quickly.
Will make two small loaves, or one large one.