Lent, Borscht, and memories

The internet is flooded with recipes as tributes to Ukraine. Named an authentic Ukrainian dish. This post is not intended as another one of those posts. See it started Monday, when my darling child showed me a paper.

It asked who were the first in the family to migrate to Canada – list the push and pull factors. Well I grabbed the tattered family history book off the shelf. Technically, we are both adopted, so this was not a bloodline history, but more of a history of how we got to be where we are.

It started with Ангеліна & Мартин – Angelina & Martin located in Then USSR what is now the Ukraine. My son’s eyes widened as I relayed the story of The narrow escape from Stalin’s conscription back in 1928 by selling everything they owned – to take any mode of transportation they could to get to Saskatchewan.

We drew it out on a map Strasbourg, Kutchergan Ukraine, through the UK and then to Montreal. The route they took, the route many are still taking today…. “That’s the same place mom…” he looked at me seriously. The war suddenly made more meaningful. It was no longer just a it’s over there issue. Pushes: threat of war on horizon, government seizing everything- land, closing churches, reforming schools and books… making faith outside of Stalin illegal.

Pull: outside of freedom there was no pull, they had no land, no employer, no language skills, no security at all. Their Pull was total reliance on almighty God -that He would provide and that He did. From the interpreters at rail stations to The kindness of strangers that loaned them a rustic old cabin on a corner plot “to get them going”, God was there.

To me and action like that is a measure to true faith – like the scripture says “reality of things hoped for and evidence of that not seen.” hebrews 11:1

In our family history, there is a recipe in Ukrainian for Lenten borscht. Meaning there was no dairy, meat or even fish allowed for 40 days. Similar to many fasts that others call the Daniel fast. This is true vegetable stew that warmed tummies. After much translating here is the workable recipe.

Feel free to top this with sour cream or yogurt or even make your own beef stock – as they say those are both excellent- traditionally if eaten during lent those would be omitted.

Ukrainian Borscht

  • 12 cups vegetable broth
  • 5 cups green or red cabbage thinly sliced (like sauerkraut)
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 3 medium carrots chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (2 swirls. Of oil)
  • 3 large beets peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 4 large potatoes peeled and cubed
  • 6 oz can tomato paste – I use home made
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 3 large garlic cloves grated
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup dill or parsley finely chopped (handful)
  • In a large pot (Dutch oven), add broth, bay leaves and bring to a boil. In the meanwhile, wash, peel and cut vegetables.
  • Once broth is boiling, add cabbage, cover and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  • In the meanwhile, preheat cast iron skillet and a swirl of oil to coat. Add onion, carrots stir.
  • Add beets, and a swirl of oil and cook for another few minutes.
  • Transfer sauteed veggies to a pot along with potatoes, tomato paste and salt. Cover, bring to a boil then cook on low for 20 minutes.
  • Turn off heat. Add vinegar, garlic and pepper. let borscht sit for 10 minutes – “do not touch” Add dill, just before serving

One Comment Add yours

  1. I’m making Ukrainian borscht for my husband this week. My recipe includes tears for our grandparents’ suffering and gratefulness for sacrifices they made so their children and grandchildren could have a better life.

    Liked by 1 person

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