As the evening chill starts to creep up on me in the evenings, and I find myself throwing a blanket over my shoulders or wrapping a sweater around me… I realize summer is soon coming to a close. In honour of summer, and due to the fact that I’ve not in the slightest way caught a tan…Read More
I’d be most definitely lying if I told you I’d always dreamed of travelling to Nashville Tennessee, and rural Clermont County in Kentucky. These are two places I’d never planned to visit at all, let alone be writing about with a soft heart. A mere year ago I found myself travelling by car from the…Read More
Wow. Where do I start? I have a serious soft spot for foods with simplistic (read: ‘natural’ and ‘cheap’) ingredients, that don’t take days to prepare, and have loads of flavour. This is one of the simplest dishes I’ve quite possible ever made, and it’s put a giant smile on my face and nice little…Read More
This is my first time making Jewish Challah bread. I was a little bit nervous for it, as the recipe I’ve used was pretty comprehensive and needed a full 48 hours for best results. If you’re going to attempt this loaf, make sure you start the day before and make your starter sponge as instructed.…Read More
Toronto and I are celebrating our 1 year anniversary in 20 days, and yet today is the first time I’ve bothered to step foot in Nadege: one of the city’s most talked-about patisseries. It was far too early in the morning for macaron and cake, but I am a huge fan of Kouign Amann. This…Read More
The truth about yesterday and my raisin and sunflower seed loaf, is that I was running out the door late for work when it arrived out of the oven. I literally pulled it out of the oven using one dry towel and an old t-shirt that I found at the back of my closet. I…Read More
Frank’s first loaf of bread is finally here! After his re-making, his inconsistent feedings, and his sneaky little ‘prison break’/jar escape… I’ve finally thrown him into a loaf of bread. Now if I can just remember to feed what’s left of him after work tonight: then maybe he’ll survive for loaf #2! This is yet…Read More
Me: “Holy shit! What’s that noise, what’s wrong?!” J: “It’s the sink” Me: “The sink?!” J: “No, a prank” Me: “A prank?!” J: “It’s FRANK!!” Me: “FRANK!!!!!!!” It’s 6 a.m. and my bread starter Frank, has exploded out the top of his jar. Apparently the name Frank, heard at 6 a.m., moments after being unexpectedly…Read More
First and foremost: I’m getting quite accustomed to the awkward stares, as I adjust my food and take countless photos of it in the cafes and restaurants around town. I meant this morning to scour the city for its best loaf of crusty bread, yet here I am: a 45 minute commute southwest of my…Read More
For years I’ve been trying to replicate a specific ‘breed’ of borscht that I grew up eating in the rural town of Grand Forks, in British Columbia, Canada. No matter what I did it just didn’t seem to hit the nail on the head. There was always something missing: the texture is off, the flavour isn’t quite there, it’s just “friggin’ mehhhhh”. <— That’s truly the best way I can think to describe my last attempt at re-creating this legendary meal.
I even had a recipe from my Aunt that had apparently come from my Grandmother, but even this was an utter, and epic: FAIL. There are a million ways (obvious exaggeration) to make a pot of borscht, but this particular borscht is magical. And the ‘recipe’ is elusive. UNTIL THIS WEEK! Alas! I have a recipe in my hands! Or, rather, my iPhone’s Evernote list.
This particular pot of drool-worthy goodness isn’t your regular, run of the mill, beet soup. My Aunt’s passed-down recipe comes from my family’s Ukrainian ancestors, but this Ukrainian borscht is not the same as the one I’m searching for. You see, this borscht has been made by a particular group of Russians called Doukhobors. If you’ve never heard of this term: google it, or easier yet, click below… for a quick background.
In short-form, the difference between regular beet borscht and THIS one, is: FAT FAT FAT. You can never get enough butter and heavy cream. Ever! While searching for my past errors and planning yet another pot of soup, I just happened to stumble upon this blog/recipe…
I won’t be re-typing the recipe and method here, as the blog above instructs you on everything you need to know. I’ve also been informed by my friend Tom (from a Doukhobor family of course!) that I’ve STILL made a mistake in this round… I wasn’t supposed to stir the mixture while it was cooking down! I was supposed to leave it be! “Ancient Russian Baba secret”: this is what I’m told. There’s always time for round two, right?! That is, if I don’t suffer a heart attack from eating this week’s entire batch! As it turns out, the biggest difference from this Grand Forks/Doukhobor’s version, and the versions I’ve been making: it’s all in the mashed potatoes! Got it. You’ll get it too once you get a taste of it. Dairy, dairy, dairy, and dill, dill, dill. What better accompaniment to this bubbling bowl of awesome, than my homemade Rye and Pickle Juice Bread?
Nothing has compared to this meal I’ve just eaten, in a very long time.
Not only does this food taste delicious because it’s homemade by my own efforts and with my own passion injected, but because the flavour is unmatched and exact to what I ate as a kid. The first spoonful I ate literally transported me back to my hometown, with flashes of carefree kid-land, and lazy weekend days at the ‘GF Hotel’, or at a friend’s house while her Baba rustled around the kitchen making a mess, and feeding us kids plateful after plateful of butter drenched Russian fare. This exact flavour and texture, this exact bowl of soup, this exact moment- a crisp moment in time; a memory.
Hundreds of memories.
I find myself marvelling at the mind’s way of dredging up these old memories. A front-hall coat closet with mud-soaked boots lined up, a hundred year old barn turned into a family home; baseboards creaking, dusty drives down an old dirt road; off to Hummingbird bridge for a swim, sleeping on a trampoline; up all night watching the stars and taking the view (due to lack of city-light-pollution) for granted, a class trip to the Museum, crumbling old brick dwellings on a hillside, family dinners outside at my Great Uncle George Ritco’s farm; in the evening sunlight of late August, shucking fresh peas in the garage. I thought shucking those peas was such a god-forsaken chore at that age. I must have been 10 years old. All I wanted to do was listen to my cassette tapes or go to Amy’s house so we could pack peanut butter sandwiches in tinfoil, and go hiking up in the woods to get covered in dirt and muck, and poke at frogs with sticks. But shucking those peas is a memory, now, of equal importance to all the rest. All of those memories, though often tucked away in the back of my mind, are there. Some of these things I only remembered upon eating this soup, years later. Words can’t describe a flashback of this sort.
Even at age 21, off in University studying Culinary Arts- I was transporting jars of “Grand Forks Borscht” to my Chefs at school, 5 hours away. Even those guys, professionally trained Chefs, knew of my hometown and it’s soup. I assure you this is not bullshit.
This isn’t necessarily a post to encourage you to cook some borscht- but rather, one to encourage you to find your own Flashback-Meal.
What brings back childhood memories for you, strong enough to momentarily forget where you are, how old you really are, or the stresses of your day?
Food for thought.