Tuesday, August 12, 2014

"Good & Cheap" Borscht

My mom said you can make a simple and healthy borscht with only four ingredients. This sounded pretty awesome and I was inspired to try by a new cookbook that just came out, Good & Cheap. Read more about it in the forward and definitely check it out, free download!

I bought a red beet and green cabbage from Green City Market, two carrots and a 14 oz can of Hunts 100% natural diced tomatoes seasoned with basil, garlic and oregano (if you want to control your salt intake, go for the "no salt added" can).

So in summary, it was literally four ingredients:
1 Beet
2 Carrots
1/2 of a green cabbage
10 oz can of diced tomatoes

  1. Take the beet and two carrots and peel the skin and discard. 
  2. Put beet and carrots in a soup pot to boil in enough water to make a pot of soup for 20 minutes. 
  3. In the meantime, rough chop the green cabbage into the size and amount of cabbage you want in the soup.
  4. At the 20 minute mark, take out the carrots and beet and rest on a cutting board.
  5. Put cabbage into the soup and continue boiling for 30 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, you can either cube the partially boiled carrot and beat, or if you want to be more traditional, give it a few minutes to cool down and shred the veggies. 
  7. Add back to soup. 
  8. Once the alarm goes off that the soup has been cooking for twenty minutes, turn off the flame and add the can of diced tomatoes with all the liquid. 
Voila, you're done. The soup should be the consistency and the color you like. If it's too watery for your taste, ladle some water out. If it's too thick, add a tiny amount of water until it's the way you like it. Not red enough? Add another small can of diced tomatoes.

Top with a heavy dollop of sour cream and fresh dill. You really don't need to add salt because the diced tomatoes have a lot of sodium. If the flavor isn't there, add a couple of cloves of garlic instead (fresh!). That's how the Russians do it. And FYI, borscht is always better the next day since at that point the veggies have a chance to infuse the water. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Like a Fish out of Water

I'm sure there are some other cute analogies related to fish I can use for this post, but I'll just cut to the chase: don't bike, but certainly drive to check out Calumet Fisheries. I'm sure you've heard of it by now, Calumet Fisheries is an adorable shack at the side of the road with its own smokehouse in back and a James Beard Foundation Award. They make a delicious array of smoked fish. We had the smoked shrimp and the smoked pepper and garlic salmon. Both were excellent.

I'm surprised this is a common bike route for people from the north side, because we were definitely out of place riding our bicycles through the neighborhood at South Shore Dr between 71st and 95th. In fact, some teens on bikes told us this as we rode by. Also telling, was the police blockade we had to avoid with a slight detour into Rainbow Park. Sadly, the police blockade was due to a 19 month old girl who was fatally struck by a CTA bus. Arguably, we might have been safer in the South Shore neighborhood than in Lincoln Park where a woman was shot outside the zoo. In any case, I recommend driving.

If you are looking for a nice long distance bike ride from the Lincoln Park/Old Town area, consider riding north to the Botanical Gardens and taking the Metra back. It's a similar distance, and you don't get to stuff your face with delicious food at the end, so you might actually benefit from the workout :).

Friday, May 23, 2014

NPR Month

Gene and I are obsessed with NPR. From their news coverage, to the programs they distribute like Public Radio International’s This American Life and the Moth podcast.  If you haven’t become an NPR fan yet, tune into your local affiliate, WBEZ (91.5 fm) if you’re in Chicago.

Say what you will about the NPR listener (white, uptight…yup seems right), but I wear my t-shirt proudly.

NPR week started Gene surprised me with a ride to Milwaukee, to catch Ira Glass on stage with two modern dancers for his “once a month, in different cities” performance at Riverside Theater (also known as The Pabst, keep it classy Milwaukee J). It was awesome fun, as Ira told stories related to dance in acts I, II, and III and the two modern dancers Monica Bill Barnes and Anna Bass performed throughout. As a side note, we also got to enjoy some delicious oysters beforehand at St Paul Fish Company at the Milwaukee Public Market.

NPR week continued as I went to DC for work and took our chief economist to meet with Jackie Northam, John Ydstie and Marilyn Geewax. I also got to meet Robert Siegel, for a brief moment on a tour of their new building, and got to snap this picture of tiny desk!

This also happened to be the same couple of weeks when Gene scored tickets to Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me, the NPR news quiz at the Chase Bank Auditorium. It was a blast to see Karl Castle’s last day in Chicago as the wonderful voice that introduces Peter Segaaaaal!

I heart NPR month. Let's do it again sometime.