Two Siberian winters.
One hotter-than-I-expected summer.
Four phone calls home.
One 24-hour train ride across the snowy Siberian landscape. (From Novosibirsk to Yekaterinburg.)
Hundreds of Books of Mormon given away.
One girl-turned-woman, changed forever by her experiences there.
Hundreds of new friends made, many who entered the waters of baptism.
Thousands of prayers uttered.
One language learned well enough to speak, teach, understand, dream, think, and still make mistakes. A language to fall in love with.
Layers upon layers of clothing, hats, scarves, tights, long underwear, and fur-lined boots.
One future husband met (although I had no idea at the time.)
And countless bowls of borscht.
One day maybe I'll post about how I cried the first time I went to the grocery store after coming home. Or how I spoke to the German flight attendant (who spoke flawless English) in Russian. Or about h0w very strange it felt to be alone after having a 24/7 companion for over a year and a half. It's not easy to come home from a mission. I was so comfortable being Sister Johnson that I wasn't completely sure I wanted to go back to being Michal.
This is not a 30 minute meal, but it is worth the labor of love to have a bowl of great borscht once in a while. Today was one of those days: the weather was cool and overcast, I had nowhere we needed to be, and I had fresh cabbage and beets in my fridge from my organic produce delivery this week, plus some leftover dill from pickles we made a week or two ago. It had to be borscht.
Makes 8-10 generous servings
- 8 c. beef broth
- 2 lbs. chuck (diced) or stew meat
- ¼ c. flour
- 2 T. olive oil
- 3 large beets
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 3 large potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 onion, diced finely
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and grated
- ½ head cabbage, shredded (about 3-4 cups)
- 3 T. unsalted butter
- 2 T. flour
- 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes OR 2 cups fresh tomatoes peeled and diced
- ¼ c. lemon juice (or juice of one lemon)
- 2 T. fresh dill, chopped
- 2 T. fresh parsley, minced finely
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Sour cream and chopped fresh dill, to serve
Dredge the beef in ¼ cup flour and brown in 2 T. olive oil in large saucepan. Add broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat to a high simmer and add garlic, potatoes, and ½ c. onions. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add celery and carrots and simmer for another 10 minutes. Add cabbage and cook for another 10 minutes. Add beets and reduce heat to low simmer.
In large frying pan, melt butter over medium high heat and sauté remaining onions until soft and translucent, approximately 5 minutes. Add flour and stir constantly until lightly browned. Add tomatoes, lemon juice, dill, and parsley, and stir well. If too thick, add a few tablespoons of water. Cook for 10 minutes, then add to the broth, mixing well. Salt and pepper to taste, and simmer for 15 additional minutes, stirring frequently. Serve hot. Garnish individual servings with a generous dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of minced dill.
Serve with dark Russian rye bread, or with the cabbage peiroshki that I made. But that's another recipe for another post.
Oh, Russia, how I miss you!