Friday, July 25, 2014

Beet Borscht recipe - straight from Ukraine

There is a saying I know to be true.  "There are as many ways to make borscht as there are Ukrainians." However, my Step-Mom's borscht is my favourite.  

I may be biased.

Each time she has come to visit any of us, she has slaved away for a full day making borscht. We freeze is and spend the next three months eating nothing but and peeing red.

It's totally worth it. 

Everyone can follow a recipe... unless there isn't one.

A few years ago, when I knew she wasn't coming to visit anytime soon, I begged her for the recipe. Her response was "Recipe??"


Tanya took pity on me though knowing that the last time I cooked for her I simmered the soup I was making all day and, when I was about to serve it, realized I'd had it on the wrong burner and it was cold.

She wrote down the borscht recipe for me. Step by step.

I think she realized that, no matter the recipe, the odds were I was going to mess it up. She would try and make it fool proof.  It's also totally naturally gluten free!!

Tanya's not overly beety beet borscht


Here we go. 

(It's actually super easy. It's the preparing that is time consuming.)

Prepare ahead of time

300-400g of pork (cut into cubes)
1/4 head of cabbage shredded
3 beets diced or shredded (if you like less beets, add 1 or 2 instead. More? Add more.)
3 large potatoes cut in 1/4s (I cut them smaller to be bite sized)
1 medium onion diced
3 med carrots shredded
1 can stewed tomatoes (I use fresh and dice them)
1 can green beans
1 t lemon juice
fresh dill (to taste - I like A LOT of dill)
bay leaf

The actual cooking part

In a large sauce pan, put 1 T oil, the onions, and the pork.  

Cook until the meat is fully cooked and the onions are soft.  

Put in 6 cups of water, add the potato -- cook 7 - 10 minutes.  

Add the rest and simmer until fully heated and potatoes are soft.

Serve with a large dollop of sour cream. I use plain Greek yogurt because it tastes like sour cream and it's better for you. Also, I always have it in the house. 

Pretty simple directions, right? 

I still like it best when Tanya makes it for me. Food cooked by a mom is somehow always better!

Friday, July 18, 2014

The tale of two closets: when custom isn't always better.

When people ask me if I'm excited about being in my new house, I end up just staring at them.

How do you explain that you don't have time to be excited because you're too busy trying to get them to come back and fix all the things they didn't do right the first time?

Here is a tip: don't ask that question.

Now that we have been in the house almost two months, we are getting more settled and some of the kinks are being worked out.  But it wasn't always such smooth sailing. (She says with her tongue in her cheek.)

Custom closets?

When we decided we wanted to include a walk in closet in our master suite, we wanted it to be perfect. I wanted two layers of hanging bars - one for shirts, one for pants - and a section for my dresses.  I wanted a tall thin tower of shelves for folded clothes, space for my shoes, and a large wall for my jewelry that I swear I will someday not be too lazy to wear.

We talked to our contractor. He really seemed to get what we wanted and promised he would have the closet built custom so we would have strong wood shelves and it would look really slick. We said not to worry - we would be happy with a great organization kit from a local store - but he assured us that custom was the bomb.

Okay, he didn't say that. I did.  I am not cool or hip.

Regardless, the closet was something I dreamed about for months. It is 12 feet deep and 6 feet wide and would be all manners of awesome.

And then we hung things up.

Short comings

Yup. That's our closet.
Even Monty is sad

The Guy's shirts hung 4 inches onto the floor. His pants hung 2 inches on the floor. On the top rung, not even my shirts could be hung without dragging on the shelf below.

The tower of shelves was over a foot and a half wide and had 2 shelves.  TWO.

It was a disaster.

The closet I had been organizing in my mind for months was completely unusable. Don't get me wrong, it looked great.  Until you actually hung clothes in there.

The Guy spoke with the contractor who agreed to have the carpenters come back and fix the closets (the downstairs suite closet was also this short) so they would be useable.


A month later, they arrived.  They assured us that the 27" from hanging bar to floor was standard. The 30" from hanging bar to shelf was ample.

May I point out that the contractor, the carpenter, and the helper were all shorter than my 5'10" (and three quarters) by quite a bit?


It might be standard heights in the 1800s but it sure isn't now. Not with The Guy topping 6'5".


They tore the closets out and fixed them. The tower now has 4 shelves.  The clothes have space to hang. There is room for a shoe rack (I installed after I took these pictures) and all our clothes fit.

closets now
Everything I wanted.  Blurry and badly lit.

The painter has to come back and redo the whole room, but I can use it. It will be the closet I wanted.

Though, I still think the pre-fab one might have been a touch easier.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

My summer vacation: friends, family, and farts

Unintentional hiatus 

It's been almost a month to the day since I wrote anything that was for fun. Apart from my usual Facebook statuses (Bronwyn_MayB) I haven't put pen to paper (well, fingers to keyboard) to write my thoughts, my stories, or my insanity.

I did write a 60 page report for an Agency review. So, there is that.

But it just doesn't have the same feel. Or the same sarcasm.

They frown against that in the professional world. Bah.

Inspiration, but no time

I've been writing in my head the whole time. Brilliant and witty pieces about my life, my dog, and my house.  However, between the house guests, a friend's wedding, a week away, a visit with Grandma, and actually writing words about the research I've been doing for months, I haven't been able to share them.

Here are some highlights:
  • My friend Jamie drove my father and my step-mom from Calgary to Regina and she's still speaking to me. 
  • My dad stayed with us for a whole week and I'm still speaking with him
  • My dad stayed with us for a whole week and The Guy is still speaking to me
Photo by Ky
Dad, Tanya, Lil E, and Monty
  • My step-mom made the greatest borscht in history and I will eventually share her recipe here
  • My sister came to visit me and we had all the fun
  • I passed a group of pre-teen boys lined up along a wall and when they pretended I had farted I did not defend myself even though I was incensed! (Had I farted, I would have laughed uproariously because they were all sitting in prime fart trajectory)
  • My closet was redone (almost complete) and the deck is now done (except for rails... don't fall) and someday this house will be done
  • My sister Ky and I visited Grandma who knew who we were until she nodded off for 5 minutes. I'm not sure who was more freaked when she woke up thinking strangers were in her room!
photo by Ky

I'm trying to be back now. Writing more often and getting my life back on track now that I don't have 3,004,524 things to do. We shall see. I do have one main task to complete...