Borscht Closure and Cabbage Tiffs

We grew a short row of beets this year.  Husband started to talk about making borscht in June. He is an incredibly obsessive person who loves to compare and contrast recipes.  Borscht recipes started to appear on the lamp table near his chair in the living room, and with difficulty he finally settled on one recipe a week or so ago.  He had, of course, annotated it with suggestions from other recipes. It was a complex recipe with twenty-one steps.

Last Friday he started to make the borscht, beginning with a beef stock.  That took all Friday afternoon and evening, with Husband fussing over the vegetables and herbs  that were to go into the stock, and how long the stock was to cook.  It was finally finished at 3:00 am Saturday morning. I strained it for him later in the morning. He fussed and fussed, asking if I should skim off all that fat, was the beef tender,  and was it enough?  I reassured him it was. Then the real hysteria began, with the twenty one steps.

The vegetables had to be julienned in a specific way.  It was a clear borscht with beets, cabbage, onions, celeriac, carrots, potatoes, and our home grown fresh Vermont Cranberry beans.  Only he could assemble the soup.  I don’t quite know what the other steps were, but I went to bed at  9:00, and he finished the soup just before midnight. It made two gallons. The kitchen was in a state of continual mess and uproar the whole time the soup was in preparation. I became increasingly irritated with him. I started to argue with him over what to do with the leftover cabbage he didn’t need in the soup, a half head of  savoy cabbage we had grown last year and blanched and frozen. He was going to throw it away. When I heard myself saying  “You can’t throw out the rest of that cabbage! It worked really hard to grow for us!”  I knew I was completely around the bend. I don’t even like cabbage. Then Husband got stuck at Step 20-correct for seasoning.

He ate some of the soup for breakfast on Sunday. He was pensive and broody all morning after that.  We went to church, and as we were driving home he said we had to go to the store to get a cruet. He explained that he was disappointed in his soup because it needed more acid and herbs, and he wanted a cruet to infuse herbs and vinegar to add to the soup. No, he said, he couldn’t just use a pint jar.  After a great deal of indecision on his part, we found just the right cruet to match his expectations. We went home, and he proceeded to turn the kitchen upside down (again), chopping all these herbs and figuring  out what he wanted in his soup.

I had finally had it with all this obsession and brooding, and asked if I could taste the soup. It was wonderful. I told him that if he thought it needed more acid,  to squeeze a God damned lemon into it and just add some fresh dill, but what ever he did he needed to be done with the soup!!!  He looked stunned and seemed to come back to reality. He sheepishly agreed that I was correct, and filled up the cruet with vinegar and the herbs and put it in the fridge. I have no idea what we will do with it.

When have you got so close to something that you couldn’t see it for what it truly was anymore?  How do you choose recipes? What is your favorite beet recipe?

24 thoughts on “Borscht Closure and Cabbage Tiffs”

  1. I’ll answer your questions later, Renee, but first I need to post a simple Public Service Announcement. My daughter cooked beets for me about two months ago. My PSA is simply this: when you eat beets and then use the bathroom, expect the water in the toilet to be blood-red. That isn’t blood. You are not dying of a cancer that is making you piss blood. That’s just your beets saying “See ya!” on their way out.

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  2. Smell of beets cooking or cooked or pickled is one of my worst triggers. I have said this before. When my mother canned beets I moved into the barn.
    Too close to see: my teaching by the end. I was outguessing myself. D

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You commented recently, Northshorer, about how we are similar. I taught freshman composition (writing) six years. The best year was the first because I didn’t have any idea of what I was doing; I just did it. The worst years was the sixth, for by then I was incapacitated by self doubt.

      I always thought about the centipede. Some little bug asks a centipede, “How in hell can you walk with all those feet?” The centipede says, “Aww, it’s easy. You just . . .” and then the centipede starts thinking about all those feet and he absolutely cannot walk at all.

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  3. LOLOLOLOLOL: I had finally had it with all this obsession and brooding, and asked if I could taste the soup. It was wonderful. I told him that if he thought it needed more acid, to squeeze a God damned lemon into it and just add some fresh dill, but what ever he did he needed to be done with the soup!!! LOLOLOLOLOL! Thanks for the morning laugh, ReneeinND. (I understand it wasn’t funny at the time, but it makes a great story. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, now, that was predictable. You prefer the soup if you add the step of roasting the beets first. How can we add more steps to the process? Marinate the veggies? Make the beef stock yourself?

      Don’t pay attention to me. I’m just envious. I’ll bet that was a wonderful soup!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I have a recipe for Garden Patch Cake, or something like that, that has grated beets, zucchini, and carrots in it. Pretty tasty. Cream cheese frosting if I’m feeling like making it fancy.

    My favorite healthy beet recipe is Lemon Lovers Beets. It’s basically cooked beets heated up in a lemon sauce with lemon zest, juice, and some other things…I use yellow beets, which are milder than red beets, and it’s pretty good.

    I also have a borscht recipe, but it’s vegetarian. Don’t know if’s any good or not, I haven’t made it in ages. I do know it does not take as much time or labor as the borscht described by Renee.

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      1. Yes, there are yellow – or golden – beets. Sometimes red beets taste a lot like dirt to me…yellow beets, never. They are milder in flavor, a bit sweeter than red beets.

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      1. Here’s a link:
        https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/garden-patch-cake/

        I never have done the “Decorating” part of this recipe. Too fussy for me. In fact, it’s good without the frosting, so I have no problem with skipping the frosting.

        I also cut down the sugar to about 1 cup instead of 1 1/2 cups and sometimes substitute 1/2 cup applesauce for the same amount of oil. I do not skip the chocolate chips. I also don’t use Nellie’s free-range eggs, just whatever eggs I have on hand.

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  5. As for being too close to something to see what it really is, I would say when I get really sick, I sometimes don’t realize how sick I am and don’t even think I should maybe go to the doctor.

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  6. I don’t have a favorite bert recipe although unlike Clyde, I do like pickled beets. For picking recipes it really depends on the moment. I think I’ve said here before that I drag out a bunch of cookbooks and put post it notes on things that sound interesting and then go back and full the number of recipes that I’m interested in down to one or two. I’m not a very obsessive person. “Done is better than perfect” has been my motto for many years. My mother is a “fish or cut bait” kind of person and I think I inherited a chunk of that from her.

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  7. There was a St. Paul restaurant that had a beet salad that was to die for. but they took it off their menu. I am sure there are other places that have good beet salads…I must search them out.

    I always liked pickled beets. I love cabbage, but I hate cutting it up.

    Can’t find the Peter O., but here’s a decent version:

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  8. I honor those who seek perfection. I used to work at getting the perfect version of two or three meals. I cooked twice for whole family with son here, two of my best things. I produced lackluster meals both times. Aging and pain.

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