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Back From the Big 2015 Trip


The best meals of the Big 2015 Trip ( or Time and Place) were bowls of borscht in Belarus, Russia, and on the Siberian train. The Best. A fall goal, one of many of course, is to have a stable of borscht recipes. I already tried a complicated one with beef last fall which was quite delicious but haven’t found one yet that has any ingredients accounting for that citrus edge of some I’ve tasted. Today I’m trying a vegetarian borscht from the NYTimes last week:

There are problems. The beets, Whole Foods advisor said were what I was looking for, do not look right. (See photo below) Since my idea of good veggies are ones that have white sauce or a half cup of butter or maybe are candied this is a new world for me. So just what are beets for borscht supposed to look like? Deep red right. Not striped?

And the whole bouquet garni thing is quite new to me. Sorry, already admitted I’m a foodie failure so what can I say. I asked my friend Brynne, ‘can’t I just throw the stuff into the pot instead of going the cheesecloth route?’; she said, ‘yes if you don’t mind stems,’ so I did that But where does one find allspice berries, Spice Islands perhaps, maybe Whole Foods, but by the time I got to that part of the recipe I was confused about the beets and I forgot to look.

So this will be a bastardization of the Times recipe. It’s simmering, second train mug of wine…I’ll let you know.

The Results:

This is not borscht. I don’t think the stripped root vegetables were beets. Guess I’ll have to google photos of beets. Did that. They were Chioggia beets. Don’t go there if you want red borscht is the moral of this story.

However the ‘vegetable stew’ was quite delicious. Full of greens and mushrooms and faux beets. Salty and oniony with bay leaf/allspice/thyme/parsley. Topped with fat clumps of sour cream. So I am relatively happy with today’s cooking adventure. Must build the real borscht recipe collection though.

Now if there were only some good British series on tonight to finish a proper Sunday evening.


Almost a Foodie

Swiss chard, chick pea and potato stew.

Swiss chard, chick pea and potato stew.

Wikipedia says; a foodie is a gourmet or a person who has an ardent or refined interest in food and alcoholic beverages. A foodie seeks new food experiences as a hobby rather than simply eating out for convenience or hunger. While gourmet and epicurean can be used as synonyms they have fallen out of favor and bring to mind a stodgy or snobbish attitude.

 It is very stressful to reach my age and realize how many things I still want to BE. A writer, photographer, student, political activist, humanitarian, hiker, avid gym-goer and foodie. None will be easy but the foodie gig may be the most difficult of all.

Obviously being a real foodie is out of my reach. Someone whose lifelong food preferences fall in the macaroni and cheese, cinnamon roll, Ritz crackers and Philadelphia cream cheese category will never reach gourmet/epicurean heights.

Still, there’s no reason not to at least try for foodie light. History indicates I may have strands of the right DNA. As a kid I endlessly baked cakes, only cakes, with no interest in any other category of foodstuff.  Cherry, chocolate, chocolate/maraschino cherry, caramel, Jell-O, strawberry, white layer cake with lemon filling and seven-minute icing, peanut butter, prune, mayonnaise, and more. As a young Air Force wife (especially when living in the Philippines with a maid), I cut recipes out of magazines and copied them from friends and relatives and tried everything—no matter how strange or complicated. Some successes, numerous messes (primarily the French dishes).

I can feel that cooking, baking, experimental, experiential desire coming on again. For oh so many reasons:

  • Now the world has Google and a million (low estimate) foodie blogs,  many of which are works of literary and visual art, and great fun to peruse;
  • As responsible citizens we need to limit our consumption of environmentally unfriendly meat, eat more organic vegetables, lower our intake of gluten, sugar and processed foods generally—to do that one must cook;
  • What could possibly be a more satisfying pastime than surrounding ourselves with a food pyramid of ingredients, pouring a glass of wine and cutting, peeling, smashing, slicing, stirring, whisking, browning, simmering and roasting, with perhaps the reward of a second glass of wine;
  • Finally, how pleasurable to share the results with good friends and family accompanied by good conversation.

Tonight my friend Bob and I shared a meal of his Swiss chard, chick pea and potato stew and my vegetable fried rice (brown rice, peanut oil, garlic, green onion, green pepper, petit peas, sesame oil and peanuts) with sherbet for dessert. The food was tasty, pretty and healthy, gave us pleasure and was friendly on all environmental fronts. We are definitely on the right path.

Vegetable Fried Rice.

Vegetable Fried Rice.

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