We’re about to gain another hour of daylight in the evening — whoopee! Of course, we’ll pay for it every morning when we adjust our routine to getting out of bed and starting our days in the dark.
I’ve convinced myself over the years that getting up early puts me ahead of the game. When the time comes to leave for my office, I’ve had a chance to get something done at home. Some days by the time the sun comes up my accomplishment is to start dinner; other mornings I go through some paperwork; and, in particularly decadent early hours I drink my coffee with my feet up and read the newspaper section by section.
I wish I had the motivation to take an early morning walk. Maybe when there’s a little more light and it’s warmer first thing in the morning that’ll be a worthy goal. Right now it feels good to hunker down and get a few things done inside.
This time of year, it’s hard to decide in the morning what we’ll want to eat for dinner at the end of the day. During the week, I don’t have the time to prepare meals as I used to.
So, when someone else who loves to cook offers to take over meal preparation, it’s something to look forward to. Last week my son Daniel offered to make borsch (beet soup with other root vegetables) for dinner.
Borsch is delicious, full of complex, earthy flavors. It is well-known in eastern Europe. I love to order it at restaurants, but have never made it. Daniel’s borsch was delicious. When I saw how simple it is, I decided I’ll have to add it to my own repertoire. I think it’s perfect for these days at the end of winter when you can’t be sure what the weather has in store. Served hot or cold, borsch is something to look forward to at the end of the day.
1 cup yellow onions, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup baby carrots, left whole
3 or more large beets, cut in 1 inch chunks
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vodka
1/4 cup white wine
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon whole thyme
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
Use an 8-10 cup pot.
Place butter and oil in pot over medium heat. Add half of the salt. Add carrots and saute until they begin to turn color. Add celery and onions and continue to saute until they begin to brown. Add beets, the rest of the salt, vodka and wine.
Cover and simmer on low heat for 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the heat (vegetables should be cooked through). Take out 6 chunks of beets and 6 carrots. Place them into 6 bowls.
In a blender or food processor, puree the rest of the vegetables. Return to the pot. Add the broth. Bring to a boil. Simmer on low for a few minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally, to allow borsch to thicken slightly. (You can simmer longer to have a more concentrated soup and a richer flavor.)
Ladle borsch over chunks of vegetables in bowls. Add a heaping tablespoon or more sour cream. Serve immediately.
Daniel added a small wedge of Brie cheese and some chopped beet greens for garnish.
The alcohol cooks out of the soup, but if you object to vodka and/or wine, you can add more stock or apple cider instead.
Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.