Baconskillz – Salamiskillz – Prociuttoskillz – We gets em.

I have been really into this year long blog-a-thon focused on meat preserving skills. Charcuterie and cheese personally has always represented the good life to me. If I was doing well I would always have more cheese and cured meats around. So I was thrilled to hear about Charcutepalooza started by Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Kitchen.

If you haven’t paid it any attention you are really missing out. Hundreds of blogs are participating in trying out the techniques and skills covered in Michael Ruhlman’s book – Charcuterie

I haven’t tried any of the challenges yet, but my good neighbor and Mistress of Pigs Terrie Beech is on notice that I will be needing a big chunk of pig someday soon.

I am delaying for now because I need to rig up a curing box like this one from the good folks at Oink Joint. A shout out to Oink Joint and Pork Dork for having the best blog names about all things pig!

Have any of you guys done any charcutrie?

B is for Beef Borscht…Soup


As some of you know the reason I started growing my own, is that deep down I am a person with champagne tastes on a beer budget. So I cook and I garden. And when I cook, I cook for an army and freeze what I can. I was raised in part by a man from a family of Portland foodies. We love to cook because we love to eat, and love eat really well, even more.

It’s Fall, and so my thoughts turns to soup and sweets. This is my on the fly recipe for beef borscht. I am an improvisational cook. I have many hits and a few misses. This is a hit. Take time to enjoy the colors! Make a lot and freeze it!

Beef Borscht

1/2 pound of beef. It’s soup, don’t splurge.
6-8 beets
5 cups beef broth
2 cups chopped celery
5 cloves garlic (more if you like)
1 cup tomato paste
1 large red onion
1/2 head of red cabbage
3 bay leaves
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tbs olive oil
3 tbs fresh dill or 3 tbs fresh parsley
plain Greek yogurt, sour cream or crème fraîche
salt and pepper

Peel and cut beets into medium pieces.
Cut the beef into bite sized pieces.
Chop celery, onion, garlic and cabbage.

Over medium heat in a large thick bottomed soup pot, stir in beef (seasoned with salt and pepper), after a bit add garlic, onion, bay leaf and marjoram. Brown the meat. Add the broth, the beets, tomato paste. Stir. Let simmer for 30 minutes. Add chopped cabbage and celery. Simmer 10 more minutes. I like the vegetables to be crunchy. You can simmer more if you like.

Serve hot with generous dollop of sour cream, crème fraîche or yogurt and fresh dill or parsley (or both). Some may like more salt and pepper, dill or cream on top, so I always serve those on the side.

Takes 1 hour
Serves 10

Nice with a crusty bread with butter on the side…but what soup isn’t?