borscht recipe

When making borscht, begin with the end in mind. Add ingredients in the order of how long it takes to cook. What takes longest to cook should be added first 

Fill a pot with water and put it to boil

Add salt (a teaspoon or so)
Add at least ½ t of dill. You can add more. Dill is very Russian
Some sage is good

I like to take my beef chunks, dust them with flour, and then brown them in a frying pan. Put oil in the fry pan, use a paper bag or a dish to hold flour and coat the soup meat in the flour.

Then put the meat chunks in the frying pan, let it cook on all its sides. Turn off the heat

Put a minced garlic in the pan to warm. This will keep the garlic from burning while you chop an onion. When the onion is chopped, stop and dump the beef and garlic into the water.

Put more oil in the frying pan and turn on the heat again. Sautee the onions.

When the onions are transparent, turn the heat down and add a big soup spoon of tomato paste. At least half that tiny can they come in. mix it up and let the onion tomato mixture get all goopy. Put it in the pot

Chop up potatoes (2-4) 
Chop the carrots at least a cup or more
Slice a beet or two, peeled or not
Slice off some cabbage

Put all these into the pot as soon as you chop them. It should be super bright broth, with the tomato and the beets.

Add a handful (1/3 cup or so) of some kind of kasha (rice, barley, or buckwheat)

Boil it until the potatoes are cooked. 
Taste it and add more salt and dill as you see fit

In Russia, this was a broth-y soup. Here in America, I make it super full of veggies
When you put it in the soup bowls, have sour cream and put a big dollop on top of the soup. For borscht eaters, mixing in the cool smetana (sour cream) and taking the first bite is a great pleasure.
Oh yes, a slice of dense dark bread is additional awesome.

AND make a bunch because it tastes better the next day

tea with who?

I invited two friends for tea: Fear and Doom. They showed up one day on my doorstep and I didn’t know how to throw them out.

Doom was muttering, and when I opened the door to see what the noise was about he and Fear shouldered their way in. Since I had tea laid out for myself I poured some for them.

Doom never stops talking. He has a very deep voice, and it is hard to understand when he mutters. When I take the time to listen in, his voice gets louder and fills the room with the sonic vibration like a prayer bowl.

I don’t want him to speak up. That’s why Fear is his constant companion. Fear interrupts, with a shrieking single laugh “HA!”  Doom is quiet when Fear talks. Fear is very specific, and Doom is abstract.

I can’t say I enjoyed their company exactly, but one can’t drink tea alone.

I did find their conversation fascinating. They are both so well informed. Any topic I might bring up for discussion, they had a lot to add.

The second pot of tea had gone cold because of our non-stop conversation when I heard a knock on the door.

“HA!” shrieked Fear.  She would. Strangers and changes and unknowns always got the same response from her. I laughed at her suggestion that we hide under the table until the intruder went away. We would all fit under there, though. The cloth was long. It would have worked.

I opened the door to a cheerful older lady in a sundress. Her sun spotted arms were soft, and her mostly gray hair was down around her shoulders. “Gratitude! I didn’t expect to see you!”

“Oh, honey, the sky is beautiful today! I want to take a walk with you. Did you know that the jasmine is blooming?”

There’s a sky? I had been inside so long with my guests I had forgotten what the weather was like. Jasmine? My neighbors had climbing jasmine that filled the whole block with scented beauty. Remembering the clouds of aromatic pleasure pushed out all the points I was going to bring up in the conversation I’d been having.

Pink Jasmine.

I looked down at Gratitude. “Isn’t it too cold for you wear that?” and age-inappropriate and in other ways foolish.

“Not if we are moving. The sun and the breeze feels amazing on my skin.”

It did feel good on my face. “I can’t go with you. I have company.” We weren’t done with our tea or our talk.

She peeked around the door jam to see beetle-browed Doom staring into his teacup. Fear startled at being discovered, her thin tapping fingers stirring the many spoonfuls of sugar around in the bottom of the tea.

Gratitude withdrew back to the sunshine-drenched front step. “Honey, they will be fine without you. Come on! Jasmine is blooming and the clouds are casting shadows on the hillsides.”

Cloud shadows on green hills. Pink Jasmine.

I looked back. Fear clinked the silver spoon against my grandmother’s chine teacup. The delicate blue flower pattern was precious to me. I hoped her frantic spoon action wouldn’t break it. She ought to be more careful!

Doom was muttering.

I didn’t want to hear what he was saying anymore.

I grabbed my shawl from the hanger by the door. “Guys, I haven’t seen Gratitude in a long time. I really have to go. Let yourselves out!”

Gratitude laughed her joyful laugh, grabbed my hand and we ran down the path together to find the blooming flowers.