Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ukrainian Grandma's Borscht - 11 quarts approx.

My Grandma NEVER used measuring cups, didn't even own any, and wouldn't write down her recipes or share them. Luckily I have a sneaky aunt who watched very carefully and managed to translate what she saw into a workable recipe.

Made up a batch of this last night for lunch today. It has the teenage son's approval, he ate it for breakfast after putting a quart in his lunch. Dh likes borscht from restaurants, so I'll have to see what he thinks about this. ( I wasn't about to get up before the crack of dawn to ask him this morning!)

Like my mother says it uses every pot in the house and it's so worth it. I was noticing that it is the ultimate local recipe, everything except the salt and pepper Grandma could source straight from the farm. Then I had a DUH! thought, of course these old family recipes were localvore recipes, that is all they had!!

Maybe next year I'll grow a borscht-bed, a raised bed devoted to these ingredients.

In a large pot put:
2 1/2 quarts water
5-6 peeled but whole potatoes
3 whole beets, fist sized, tops trimmed
Bring to a boil and cook til tender, about 30-40 minutes. Scoop out potatoes and mash with 2 pints (4cups) whipping cream. Remove beets and grate, tossing out some of the peel and the stem bit. Return to pot. (Don't toss the water!)

In a medium pot put:
2 quarts canned tomatoes, diced
4 Tbsp. butter
Heat to a boil and turn off.

In a really big pot (12-13 quart capacity) put:
Lots of butter
1 whole cabbage, shredded
4 carrots, grated
2 green peppers, diced
2-3 onions, diced
1 bunch celery, chopped

Once the vegetables are soft add the potato mix and the tomatoes. Then add:
Dill, lots, prefer fresh
and more butter
Bring to a boil, reduce heat to minimum and simmer.

To made this vegan, use margarine instead of butter, using as little as possible, and leave out the whipping cream. Not Grandma approved but it is still tasty.

Monday, November 24, 2008

OMG! Have you seen this!

The library has a new biking magazine and it's NOT anything like the usual spandex-sporting commercial consumer-fest mags you usually see.

Momentum is 'The Magazine for Self Propelled People' , 'reflecting the lives of people who ride bikes and providing urban cyclist with the inspiration, information, and resources to fully enjoy their riding experience and connect with local and global communities'.

I spent some quality time with the current issue in the library and had to photocopy one article it was so good. I brought the other one home. Bike Porn. Pure and simple. I was up to 2 am reading and noting websites to view later.

Now I'm not a fashion plate so the 'style' issue wasn't something I was going to emulate anytime soon but the articles were interesting. Even the adds, Dutch Bikes, need I say more.

The magazine itself has a website, naturally, at with links to cool things like online articles, see the archive section, and blogs.

The article I photocopied? Helmet Cozies. Think crocheted tea cozy on helmet. Their website: . I found myself digging through my collection of retro-yarn, grabbing a crochet hook, and getting busy. These images are from their website:

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Trowel Goes on a Field Trip

Ann has been trying to get me to meet Karen at the local community college for a while now. Life has been busy. We finally met yesterday.

Karen invited me to the college greenhouses to see what she has been up to.



I was seriously impressed.

It was like visiting Eliot Coleman of 'The Four Season Harvest' fame.

The first greenhouse is heated and currently housing a collection of tomatoes trellised nearly to the peak. Karen mentioned that these will produce until Dec. 21 and then it is time to yank them and tidy the greenhouse in time for spring planting. She also mentioned that greenhouse space will be available for the public to grow their own seedlings/transplants. This was such a success last year that the demand for space has grown to the point of needing to hold a lottery for the available space.

The second greenhouse is unheated and featured many raised beds draped in a double layer of Remay cloth for further cold protection. The greenhouse offers about a 5 degree buffer and she estimated that the cloth offers another 3-5 degrees. These plants were seeded on about September 15 and were growing well. Various lettuces: romaine, mesculun, endive, and another I can't remember, pok choy, radishes, turnips, beets, spinach etc.

Made me want to start cooking :o)

Karen was hoping that commercial growers in the area would take up the challenge and use these methods to extend their seasons and thus extend our ability to eat locally.

She also mentioned they have 12 foot wide Remay for sale by the running foot. Good to know.
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Why no pictures? I have a teenager. 'Nuff said. If I ever get custody of my camera again I'll sneak back to the greenhouse for a photo shoot.