This week I was given some new cookbooks as a gift- and I’m really looking forward to reading through them thouroughly and preparing some new and interesting meals. In particular, the one you’ll be seeing some recipes and photos from, is Jerusalem. I’m sure you’ve heard of it or own it, it’s all the rage.…Read More
Something very cool happened to my blog this week. Whilst eating my lovely cafeteria-style dinner at work my iPhone bleeped and told me: “Congratulations! You’ve been Freshly Pressed!” Excuse me? Quoi?! What on earth for?! Surely this is a typo. With all the incredible bloggers in the food world, I’m a little shocked (and thankful) to have been noticed…Read More
I recently had the most successful shift at work in which I made the above, perfect little lemon macaron. It’s official: I do know how to make these properly, and the last several (successful) attempts were in fact not a fluke. I then got to leave work two hours earlier than my usual shift, putting me at home just in time…Read More
I’m finally in possession of Peter Reinhart’s Crust and Crumb. After spending an entire day off browsing used book stores and much thanks to Toronto’s BMV, I’ve come out on top. Reinhart’s Crust and Crumb and Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential: both for less than $15. The latter (which was actually a gift for someone else) came…Read More
A set of photos exposing the wastelands that are factory farm feedlots in North America (CAFO’s), has been recently released by Artist Mishka Henner. Henner came across these satellite images while researching photos of oil fields. These images reveal the reality we’re now faced with, having more than tripled the globe’s population in little more…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
I have only two real addictions in life. Addiction #1 goes hands-down to: caffeine. This is no surprise to anyone, most of us suffer from caffeine addiction. It’s hardly suffering really- I love my addiction. You can’t quit something you truly love. Addiction #2 is, as much as I shudder as I’m about to admit…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.