Y’all, my Mom is here visiting (hence the massive breaks between posts!).  Awesome for me and Mr. Foodlova, but lucky for you because you will also reap the benefits here.  Yup, she’s been cooking for us all week.  I just smile writing that.  Home cookin’.  It feels so warm and comforting like a big hug over here in rainy and foreign Delft, Netherlands.  Not to mention, I get to sit around and watch her cook.  She has been taking care of me for a whole ten days and letting me just put my feet up since I have been so tired.  Why am tired, you might ask?  Well, I am expecting – that’s why!  Yay!

Since I told you all about all the great cheese and wine (no more!) and pannekoeken and appeltaart, and Belgian beer (no more either 😦 ) here, now I can tell you that I have been missing some of the old Canadian favourites – or craving them?  Sometimes a girl just needs to eat a little puffed wheat cake or Rice Krispie cake for that matter.  And can I get a hell-ya for an occasional KD?  Hell-ya! Yes, I know these are not to the calibre of what I normally put on this blog, but there are just some good-old crap treats that just feel like back home.

Anyways, that was a little bit of a side bar, back to Mom’s cooking….  It is that time of year when all the garden veggies are being harvested (I checked with Mom on it this time).  Seriously, it is one of my favorite times of the year.  Fresh garden vegetables – peas, beans, corn, beets, potatoes, onions, carrots, dill.  You can’t go wrong.  It all tastes so sweet, so fresh, so not like cardboard (winter anyone?).  It’s the time of year for corn shucking, pea shelling and eating carrots right out of the ground, soil and all.  Or you could rinse them off with the garden hose if you’d like.

When I was young, every year, mom would chop carrots, shell peas and break up green beans, blanch the whole batch and pack them up in the freezer for winter eating.  All that work, but the taste in the dead of Saskatchewan winter was all worth it.  She would also make pre-made kits of borscht.  My favorite all time soup.  I bet you guys could guess that I love beets, so hopefully you do too.

Borscht is basically the Eastern european essential winter dish.  There are several ways to make it.  Some cabbage based, some potato based, but all it really is is a pot full of veggies.  I guess my fam bastardized it a bit with ham, but it’s for the flavour, people, and that is what food is all about.

This is an easy recipe, on the heels of another easy recipe.  All you do is chop up beets, beet leaves (or kale), green beans, carrots, add corn, peas, cubed ham and you could even throw in some turnip or potato.  Cover it with water, add some s+p and boil it.  You won’t believe the flavour.  The finishing touch is a dollop of sour cream and some chopped dill.  This is a nice rustic soup, with a full fresh flavour (alliteration – woop woop), deep burgundy colour and creamy broth (due to the sour cream).  Thanks Mom!  you can leave a thank you note in the comments for my Mom, I’ll make sure she gets it 🙂

*don’t add rhubarb pictured on the side – that was just from the same harvest…

Borscht Soup – My Version based on Mom’s version based on Granny’s version, etc

3 large beets peeled and cubed (include washed and chopped leaves if you have ’em)

Fresh kale or swiss chard, chopped (only if you don’t have the beet leaves)

3 largish carrots, chopped

a handful of fresh green beans, broken into bite size pieces

1 cup corn

1 cup peas

1 cup ham, diced (get the real ham, not the pressed – it makes a world of difference!)

salt and pepper (salt is majorly important here since we are not using a broth, taste the soup before serving to check the salt, add if needed, makes you feel like a real chef anyways!)

optional: onions, potatoes, turnip, anything that grows in your garden…

250 ml sour cream

1 bunch fresh dill

OK, throw all the veggies (not the dill) into a big soup pot.  Cover the veggies with water.  I usually put enough water so that the veggies are floating.  If you like more broth, put more water.

Get that on the stove boiling and add in the cubed ham.  Boil until the beet cubes can be pierced easily with a fork and everything is a rich burgundy colour. You can really boil the crap out of this soup unless you added potatoes or turnip because they tend to go soft and mealy. 

Taste soup broth now – did you add enough salt and pepper?  The flavours should be bold and not bland – enhanced by the salt.  You put a lot of water and no broth, so you’ll need quite a bit of salt.  Taste it again….

Serve in deep soup bowls with a dollop of sour creme and a sprinkle of chopped fresh dill on top.  Stir the sour creme in and slurp it up.  It keeps amazingly in the fridge and tastes even better the next day.

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