Borscht and a Haircut

I always wanted to make Borscht.  So for my last post during January, National Soup month, I did.

Here’s what you need:

  • 12 oz of beetsborscht 1
  • 1 pound of beef chuck or pork spareribs
  • flour
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 pt stewed tomatoes
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 chopped up onion
  • 12 oz shredded carrots
  • 1 T celery seed
  • 1 T white wine vinegar
  • 2 T red cooking wine
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 t sugar
  • sour cream
  • dill
  • 2 t lemon juice

I started out with the recipe from Joy of Cooking and modified it with what I had on hand.  From my garden, I used canned stewed tomatoes with basil, frozen carrots and frozen beets.  The beets sure make this soup wonderfully earthy-sweet.

Step 1:  cut up the meat into bite size pieces.  borscht 2Dredge in flour and brown in the oil.  Here’s why:  Remember the Maillard reaction?  Sooo important in creating flavor.  It’s a somewhat mysterious reaction with the sugars and proteins in the meat.  Okay, but what about the flour and the frying.  Why not just throw the meat in with the liquids.  It’ll all cook, right?  Right, but a lot of the flavor will get lost.The fat in the meat releases flavor that you want to keep in the meat morsel.  Dredging in flour creates and frying seals in the flavors.  The heat denature the connective tissue and softens up the meat texture.  But you don’t want that all that flavor to escape and get diluted in the broth.

Step 2: Add 4 1/2 cups of water and the tomatoes.  Simmer for a half hour, partially covered.

Step 3:   Chop of the cabbage, onion, and the carrots. Throw them all in with the meat/tomato mixture.  Add the celery seed and tomato paste.  Simmer for another half hour, partially covered.

Step 3:  Chop up the beets and throw it in the pot along with the vinegar, wine, garlic (chopped up fine,) and sugar.   Simmer for another 15 minutes.

A word about wine vinegar:  Wine turns into vinegar with the help of bacteria, Acenetobactor aceti.  If you get a little cloudiness in your vinegar, no need to worry.  That’s called the “mother” because it’s a little of that Acenetobacter clumped together.  It’s called the “mother, because now you can use it to make more wine vinegar.  Well, Acenetobactor is all over the place, so if you leave your wine uncorked, you’ll probably get some in there, and the next thing you know, you’ll have your own “mother” growing. Vinegar helps break down fibers, so it helps release flavor.

Enough chemistry and microbiology, the Borscht is done.  Add a dollop of sour cream and a bit of dill and you are ready to eat.  This recipe made enough for at least six people.  I added wine and rosemary bread from Costco (great in a nitrogen sealed two-pack, it just takes 10 minutes to heat up, and it keeps in the pantry for months. It’s the seal that makes it so, not preservatives.) Of course, every meal needs a little dessert.  Today it’s an orange.

Every week during January, I shared a soup recipe and a picture of the hat I knitted.  Well, this week I am finishing a sweater.  I have the front and back done, and will start the sleeves tomorrow.  So no hat; instead, a head.

I went in for a trim and my stylist, Renee said to me:  “How about a pixie?”

Maybe it’s dark of winter that made think a summertime “do” would do me good.  Maybe the constant cold drove me a little mad.  Anyways, a change sounded like a great idea.

“Is there anything you don’t want me to do?”

“No,”  I said, “Surprise me.  I’m ready for a change.”  She have me a Miley Cyrus cut.  That’s what she said, anyways, except no shaved sides.  Shaved sides is all the rage now, like it was back in the 80s.

Right away, DeeDee told me, now that my hair is short, I need to do something to make my eyes pop.  So I did that too.

Photo on 1-28-14 at 8.20 AM
Enhanced with “Photo Booth” googly eyes

I love how easy this style is.  The only problem is that now I really do need a hat.  My head is cold out there in the Arctic Vortex.

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