5/23/11

How to make candy & my THREE year anniversary

My parents LOVE telling stories of when my twin, Anna, and I were little. They like telling us those stories a lot. Some of the stories have become a permanent part of my childhood memories, and I can't even tell if I remember those things happening or I just remember the stories. I guess at this point it doesn't really matter.

Some of the stories involve me coming up with my own foreign language and singing songs in that language; others are about the time I took a mini toy tea kettle and hit Anna in the eye because she was stealing my toys; yet others are about food. Shocking.

Apparently, when I was just three years old, I invented a recipe for making candy. This is how that recipe went (try to imagine me at 3, same facial expressions, same curly hair and round face, but speaking in Russian with a slightly exaggerated intonation):

Take water. Mix, mix, mix, mix, continue to mix, and you'll end up with milk candy.

I'm guessing this is about the right age. I'm on the right. Photo credit: Leonid Berman (my dad).

I had to call my mom yesterday to get the details of this story straight. Yep. Just water. And mix. And you'll get milk candy. My mom said that my "milk candy" supposedly resembled the butterscotch candy you  have in the US.

One day, my mom was taking Anna and me on a crowded public bus in Moscow to our kindergarten. I was sitting in one of the seats and quite loudly  (shocker!) was describing my how to make candy recipe to everyone on the bus...or whoever was willing to listen. Turns out, a woman sitting next to me looked up and asked my mom with complete and utter seriousness whether the candy was really good. I'm so not making this up!

Perhaps that's when my love of creating recipes was born. Luckily, the recipes you see on this blog are made with more than water. Some of you have replicated them and have let me know that they work. I can't be happier.

Fast forward about 4 years, and Anna and I started presenting my parents with what we called little suppers. We were only seven years old. Those were the days in Russia where typical sandwiches consisted of bread, butter and maybe cheese or salami. That was too boring for Anna and me. We included tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs and whatever else my parents had in the refrigerator. Then we would cut the sandwiches into little triangles or squares and proudly present them to our parents on a large cutting board: little supper. I'm pretty sure this was the beginning of our love affair with tapas. {Thank you to my mom and dad for cleaning up the kitchen mess for us!}

Years later I taught English at a children's summer camp in Israel and stayed with a host family. My host father was a professional tomato grower and also grew mango trees behind his family's house. I was happy beyond words.

Am I rambling? Perhaps. Somehow all these experiences (and oh so many more!) have made me who I am and have contributed to my love of food. And that love of food helped me create and sustain Mango & Tomato for the last three years! Happy birthday to my little blog :)

The photos below are from 2007 and were taken by one of my family members. Also, thank you Nikki for taking a photo of me holding tomatoes at the Eat Write Retreat this weekend.




And now a big THANK YOU to everyone who has read my recipes, replicated them in their kitchens, commented, asked me questions and provided advice, criticism and encouragement. I could not have done it without all of you.

I have a BIG favor to ask. During one of the panels at Eat Write Retret I attended/photographed this weekend, Jennifer Perillo said how important it is to know who your audince is and what they want. So PLEASE, if you are reading this, leave me a comment, tell me who you are and let me know what you'd like to see on Mango & Tomato in the next year. I would love to hear from you!!!

27 comments:

Lauren (Healthy Delicious) said...

That story is so cute!! I have a similar story about myself from about the same age.... I was play-making "soup." Flavor? Gingerbread-Bacon. Also another dish that I won't go into here (the name involved feminine products -ew!! lol)

Congrats on the three years! As for what I want to see here... I love your recipes and your beautiful photos.

It was great finally meeting you in person this weekend! Too bad we didn't have more time to hang out.

Megan said...

Hi, it's me! :) Congrats on three years! I'd love to see you keep doing what you're doing. I am always inspired by your creativity and gorgeous photos!

Heavenly Housewife said...

OH daaaahling, you know me LOL, and what do I want: everything LOL. I love your blog and will continue to read for as long as you write.
*kisses* HH
p.s. that is the sweetest picture. You and your sister look like little dolls.

Jean @ Lemons and Anchovies said...

Congrats on three years! Love the story about you and your sister. I've always dreamed of having a twin--lucky you!

Cheers to many more years of happy blogging!

5 Star Foodie said...

loved reading your story, too cute! Happy blog birthday!

Maris(In Good Taste) said...

What a sweet post. It was really great meeting you this weekend at EWT. Happy 3 year anniversary!

Mariya said...

Congratulations on the 3 years. Love your photo.

K said...

Happy 3rd birthday!

I love your photos- keep up the good work! :o)

Tricia said...

Such a lovely story, Olga---love the photo of you and your sister. I especially love your "milk candy" recipe story, how original and utterly YOU. For the next year on the blog, try posting if it only comes from the heart---Shauna's good advice :). Congrats on three years, what an accomplishment!!

gretchen said...

are you two not the cutest things in your little bonnets? enormous congrats on 3 years... and fantastic meeting you this past weekend.

FrenchTwistDC said...

Happy blogaversary!!

Lauren (PB&G) said...

Happy Anniversary! =)

Melissa Jones said...

YAY! Happy Blog Birthday! We shall eat cake (or cupcakes? or madelines?! or dangerously delicious pie?!) together very soon. The story and the picture of you and your sister are adorable.

Esi said...

Happy blog birthday! Keep doing what you're doing. I love it!

Liren said...

You guys are just darling!! I can just imagine you telling that lady on the bus how to make the candy, so cute! Happy third blog-birthday! Here's to many more :)

Lindsey said...

Ahhhh, so sweet. The whole darn thing.

Totally obsessed with Russia ever since I studied ballet there when I was 12 (first time away from the parents, locale of first kiss, etc.) Makes me all the more affectionate for your blog : )

I would love to see really accessible ethnic recipes. Ethnic meaning anything outside the canned veggie and boxed potatoes with which I grew up...
Intro to new spices and ingredients, and recipes with few ingredients. Even when I love to devote an evening to cooking, I am often put off by abundant ingredient lists!

That's it! Can't wait to read more. Happy blogging : )

Lins

Alejandra Ramos said...

Such a cute and sweet story and photo! It reminds me of the ones Eugene has from his childhood. I always tease him that his childhood photos make it look like he was born in the 1950s and 60s even though we are both the same age (28). I'm like "did you grow up in the distant past?!?" and he says, "basically." lol

Congratulations on your 3-year anniversary!! It's been great getting to know you this year--hope to continue to do so for many years to come!!

xo

Alejandra

Gastronomer said...

Happy blog anniversary, Olga! This next year, I'd like to see a recipe for milk candy ;-)

Erica said...

Happy birthday to your blog,Olga! Great job!

Ben said...

I love LOVE this post! I can see you mixing and mixing and mixing water :-p Happy blogaversary and keep doing what you've been doing. I love your photography and the way you write. I know I should come more often. I promise I will from now on.

Cheers!

Rachel @ Rachel's Recipe Reviews said...

Happy Birthday to your blog! Such a darling picture of you and your sister. I love your blog and couldn't think of anything I would want you to do differently!

Paz said...

Cute little girls! I enjoyed your story. Congratulations and Happy Blog Anniversary!

Paz

Sarah said...

A belated happy anniversary to you and your amazing blog! I love that candy recipe. Will have to try it sometime :)

Valerie @ City|Life|Eats said...

Hi Olga. It was so nice to run into you on Friday :) Happy Blog Anniversary! I have been reading your blog since I lived in New York, which I am realizing now must mean I was reading from close to the beginning :)

Anonymous said...

Olga,

Happy anniversary! Please continue your wondeful blog - I love reading it!

Best regards from another Olga, who also moved from from Moscow, Russia :-) to DC area

sally said...

Congratulations on 3 years! I love the photo of you and your sister!

chezsasha said...

Happy birthday to your blog! Congrats and keep it up : D