Sunday, December 24, 2006

whoooooof..I need a break

Phone call last night from a friend I call "my brother" ..whoops, he cannot join us tonight. His husband, M, has pneumonia, and he himself can barely breathe from asthma and bronchitis. OK. Scale down the plans a bit.

I curled up last night for "just a minute" -- Big Mistake. I woke up at 4 am and told myself -- "It's OK, you need the rest." I can convince myself of anything at 4am. At 8 am I woke up and sprang into work mode, glugging down cold coffee as I put lights in my front window on the branches I bought yesterday. They have some glitter on them, which is now on me. The poinsettias are wilting. Watered them. (Pink and Red).

Am I going to make the cheesecake? Yeah, I promised I would. I have almost no usable counter space in my galley kitchen on a good day. This morning it is completely impossible. The cheesecake is now in the oven, but I had to work like a contortionist to make it. It is the old fashioned Polish kind -- with a shortbread crust, and a filling with cream cheese, cottage cheese and farmers cheese with a layer of pineapple filling between the cheesy stuff and the crust.

Ginger mentioned Finnish borscht -- recipe please? Here is now I make the vegetarian Christmas Eve borscht. Normally I would use a beef stock.For this meal I also make pickled beets, for which I use canned beets. I save the juice from the 2 cans to toss into the borscht, but it would be OK without it.

6 big beets, peeled and cut up
a handful or so of immaculately cleaned beet stems
3 big onions, chunked up
1 huge handful each of dill, chopped and parsley,chopped.
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (more to taste - can balance with sugar if overdone)
6-8 peppercorns
Place in soup kettle with salt to taste.

Boil. Then reduce to simmer for several hours. When beets are done, and soup is cooled, I use a Braun MultiPractik (you might use a blender, but don't overdo) to make a rough soup -- in that I do not 100% liquefy the beets -- there is still some substance to the broth. Warm up the broth and adjust the seasonings. It should taste beety but you should be able to discern a snap of vinegar and a sweetness of dill. Serve hot with a dollop - a big dollop - of sour cream.

OK so what is left in the next 9 hrs -- I have to get stuff into serving plates, finish cooking the cheesecake, make a salad, make the bed, gut the kitchen and clean it, set the table, shower and change -- try to look perky.

Perky s'gonna be tough :)


Blogger Ginger said...

Sure, here's the recipe for Finnish beet-cabbage soup:

4 cups of beef-type broth (I use McKays seasoning for a vegetarian broth)
1 small head of cabbage, shredded
3 large beets, peeled & grated
1/8 t. caraway seeds
1/8 t. pepper
sour cream
lemon slices

Bring broth to a boil; add cabbage, beets, caraway seeds & pepper.
Cook until cabbage is almost tender, about 15 mins.
Cover, turn heat to low until ready to serve.
Serve, steaming hot, with sour cream and lemon slices.
Serves 4-6

May your event go well! :) We'll look for the review of it here.

10:46 AM  
Blogger Furious said...

Merry Christmas!... If there is such a thing.

6:26 PM  
Blogger Mata H said...

Yes, indeed there is such a thing . And thanks.

10:45 PM  
Blogger alto artist said...

Hope you are at this very minute having a wonderful time with friends and family, and eating some of these delicious recipes, which I can practically taste as I read the descriptions... Merry Christmas!


9:18 AM  
Anonymous Evelyn said...

Wow, and you found time to post on this blog?!! I hope you had a wonderful celebration. I've never attempted cooking with beets (I'm not the neatest cook, and I can just imagine how my kitchen might look redecorated in red). These recipes sound so delicious, I might just have to give them a try. Any words of wisdom for avoiding a red kitchen when handling beets???

10:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not in the least surprised you "need a break" - by the way - some of your highly elaborate, as you say "Polish" Christmas customs are to me quite reminiscent of the elaborateness of Jewish customs - do you, dear Mata, perceive any possible cross-cultural influences?


5:15 PM  
Blogger Mata H said...

Emm Absolutely! There are some obvious echoes between the Passover Seder, for example, and Wilia traditions. After all, in Poland we all lived in the same shtetls,and Eastern European food is Eastern European food. My family's borscht is served warm, whereas in the homes of my Jewish friends it is cold. Almost every Wilia Polish menu item has a counterpart in Jewish tradition, and some of the rituals are similar. Each is nuanced differently, but the similarities are definitely there.

6:19 PM  

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