All Posts for July 2012

Going-for-the-Gold Soup: Golden Borscht

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Growing up Jewish, I knew what borscht was: a cold soup made from beets and was an eastern European staple. But my mother did not make her own borscht. She bought it in a jar along with another cold soup called schav made from sorrel. So I never acquired a taste for these soups because they did not look appealing to me in their jars. But I decided this week that it was time for me to learn how to make borscht. Schav was more like a green smoothie, so I might incorporate that into a smoothie if I could find sorrel (I actually grew it last summer on  my patio.)

Here is the hot version of the soup.

Here is what Wikipedia says about borscht: Borscht (also borsch, bortsch, borstch, borsh, borshch; Ukrainian: борщ) is a soup of Ukrainian[1] origin that is popular in many Eastern and Central European countries. In most of these countries, it is made with beetroot as the main ingredient,[2][3] giving it a deep reddish-purple color. In some countries, tomato is used as the main ingredient, while beetroot acts as a secondary ingredient. Other, non-beet varieties also exist, such as the tomato paste-based orange borscht and green borscht (sorrel soup). (Ah, so sorrel soup or schav is considered green borscht! es)

When I Googled borscht I learned that it could be made hot or cold, with or without boiled potato or sour cream. In fact, there are probably several different ways to serve this soup, both hot and cold, so I am posting a hot version & a cold version. And since I accidentally bought yellow beets instead of red beets, my soup came out golden. If you Google pictures of borscht, the picture will probably be red or deep pink from the sour cream added to the soup.

Utensils: Soup pot, cutting board & knife, food processor or blender
Prep. Time: 20 minutes to 30 minutes (When the beets are done, allow 30 minutes to actually prepare the soup)
Cooking Time: At least one hour to simmer the beets


3 to 4 medium to large organic beets, red or yellow
3 to 4 cups water or veg. stock
1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt & pepper (optional)
Garnish (potato, sour cream, dill, chives, sliced cucumber, etc.)


1. Wash & scrub beets well, Cut in half or quarters and place in the soup pot with 3 to 4 cups of water or soup stock. (About one cup per beet)
2. Bring soup to a boil and simmer until beets can be pierced with a  fork.
3. Remove the beets with a slotted spoon, cook, and peel. Cut into smaller pieces.
4. Place severalpiecesof beets into food processor/blender, add a ladelful of liquid with the onions & garlic, and puree. Continue until all the beets are pureed. (You may have some liquid left. Save in case the soup thickens overnight.)
5. Warm soup if using it hot. Serve with any of the garnishes. In the picture above I added dill and chives from my patio garden. (The day I made it was rainy & chilly so I ate it hot.)
6. To serve cold, place in ‘frig and chill overnight or several hours. Serve with your favorite garnish. In the photo below I added sliced cucumber. (I got the idea for this topping from Nikki Goldbeck’s excellent book, American Wholefoods Cuisine. Cucumber is perfect for a cold soup on a hot day.)

Yield: 3 to 4 cups soup

Westward Ho! 4/26/12-5/8/12

Monday, July 30th, 2012

Note: This Westward Ho! covers 5/4-5/8/12, the last leg of our trip.

Somehow, the sky seemed bluer in California.

Fri. aft. 5/4– After dropping my older daughter Eileen at work, we headed North to see my youngest daughter and daughter-in-law in Berkeley. We drove all morning with very little traffic, except as we came closer to San Francisco. Reached Berkeley early afternoon and relaxed at the girls’ apartment on University Drive. Lovely apartment; very airy and spacious. For dinner, Basha made reservations at Chez Panisse, owned by Alice Waters. Here is an excerpt from the website,

Alice Waters, chef, author, and the proprietor of Chez Panisse, is an American pioneer of a culinary philosophy that maintains that cooking should be based on the finest and freshest seasonal ingredients that are produced sustainably and locally. She is a passionate advocate for a food economy that is “good, clean, and fair.” Over the course of nearly forty years, Chez Panisse has helped create a community of scores of local farmers and ranchers whose dedication to sustainable agriculture assures the restaurant a steady supply of fresh and pure ingredients.

I have always admired Alice Waters, so was excited to actually eat at the restaurant. Dinner was good, but nothing exceptional,so we were a little disappointed. But I still admire Alice Waters!

Sat. 5/5– Up early. Basha & Maura made a great breakfast for us. Then on our way to wine country on a gorgeous day. Yountville was our destination. The little town had lovely flowers along the street, many restaurants, and a generally nice ambiance. We ate at a fairly fancy French restaurant and then went to a winery with a museum. Very interesting combination to have a winery/museum combination. One of the items was a typewriter with flames with the title “Inflammatory Language.”

Here is a view of one of the hills in the San Francisco area that reminded me of the Amalfi Coast in Italy.

Back to the apartment to rest up before dinner. Vacation can be exhausting!!! We went to a local Italian restaurant called Venezia that was very colorful, with a clothesline hanging inside the restaurant, just like in Italy. (If you want to see some of my Italian clotheslines from our vacation last year, you can  scroll back on this category & see the photos.)

There was also a movie playing on the large wall in the restaurant, a first for me!  It was the end of Summertime with Katherine Hepburn & Rosano Brazzi (left), followed by  Roman Holiday with Gregory Peck and the other Hepburn—Audrey Hepburn (below). So, while we were eating a delicious dinner, we could watch the two Hepburns fall in love all over again.

Unfortunately, both love affairs ended: Kate Hepburn goes back to America and leaves Brazzi because he is married, and Audrey Hepburn & Peck split because she is a princess & princesses don’t marry journalists, at least not in Hollywood.

Sun. 5/6 – Took a little longer drive North to a place called Bonita Point in Martin County near Sausalito. We drove up a scary, winding road (although not so scary as the one in Amalfi!) and walked around the area. It had originally been a military outpost and there were still some relics, but the main attraction was the lighthouse that we accessed by walking through a short tunnel across a suspension bridge. Also a little unnerving!

Here is the lighthouse with the suspension bridge in the foreground.

Returned via Sausalito, a popular tourist town on the water with many shops and eateries. We ate a late lunch at a restaurant that overlooked the San Francisco Bay, I believe. Quite lovely. Went home & took naps after another exhausting day and then ate at a local Thai restaurant in the Berkeley University neighborhood that was very good. We walked for awhile to the main street for the university crowd and stopped for a drink at a new Mexican restaurant that had opened only a couple of days earlier. We liked the atmosphere so much that we made reservations for our last night in Berkeley tomorrow. We are reluctant to leave but are also ready to sleep in our very own beds!

Another view from the lighthouse area.

Mon. 5/7 – Last full day here. Mid-morning we drove to San Francisco to visit my niece Susan, whose art gallery is in Center City. She took us to a lovely outdoor self-serve restaurant where we could talk and eat in the shade of the buildings right on the street that was blocked off. Susan is a successful co-owner of three art galleries.

Inside Snyder-Caldwell gallery. My daughter is on the left, my niece on the right. Horse is in the middle in front of my husband Alan & yours truly.

We returned to Berkeley after lunch and rested. Then I met with Franz Ross, the publisher of two of my early cookbooks (See My Books) We discussed an exciting idea of mine to have him publish a book on menopause celebrating midlife and beyond. Still working out the details, and Franz is busy learning the ins & outs of e-publishing, so no decision on his part until January of 2012. Nevertheless, I am planning to do the research & start the book. I will self-publish an ebook, if necessary.

Returned to the Mexican restaurant for a delicious dinner that was noisy, fun, and delicious. A wonderful meal for the last day of our vacation.

Tues. 5/8 -  Said our tearful goodbyes and headed to the airport to return the car we rented in L.A.  Both of us felt that we felt we had been away for two months instead of two weeks, because we traveled to four different places. Getting home to our own place was great. As Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz said, “There’s no place like home!”

Another gorgeous view of the water from our trip to Bonita Point near Sausalito.

Note: In about 10 days we are headed back to L.A. to see Alan’s son Jay in his one man show. If I take some good photos I will post the trip here after we return. Unfortunately, I accidentally deleted some of the photos while working on this last segment, so I used what I didn’t delete. I am grateful for that, at least!