Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Quick Hot Borscht (Page 93)

  • Date: Tuesday, January 22, 2008 -- 8pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Fellow Chef: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: C+

Matty loves borscht so he requested we make this recipe from The Book. Borscht is one of those things that can be really good, or really bad, depending on the recipe. This wasn't a terrible borscht recipe, but it also wasn't a great one. One positive thing I can say about it is that it was extremely quick. I don't think you are going to find a borscht recipe faster and easier than this one. It was that quickness though that was responsible for some of the badness of this recipe. To save time this recipe called for canned pickled beets rather fresh beets. Beets are what makes borscht what it is, and using canned pickled beets defeats the purpose. For one thing canned beets aren't nearly as good as fresh ones. They lack the earthiness and vibrancy that make beets so great. For another thing, the strong pickled flavor of canned beets did not add positively to this dish. The pickled flavor overwhelmed the flavor of the beets themselves and of the other vegetables. I ended up eating around the beets and the broth -- the carrots and potatoes were tasty. As borscht recipes go though, this one was disappointing.

Here is the recipe.

After two and a half years on the wagon, I am considering doing the unthinkable: drinking caffeine again. I quit all caffeinated beverages the summer after my third year in graduate school. There were various arguments for doing so -- all of them health related. It was miserable for the first few weeks (headaches, falling asleep on my desk every afternoon, etc...) but eventually I adjusted and found that I could be fatigue-free all day even without caffeine. And I felt better. So why am I considering abandoning my caffeine-free lifestyle? A couple days ago I was at home, sick, laying in bed and doing some work. I was very focused on the computations I was doing. So focused that when I first looked up at the clock I realized that three and a half hours had gone by. Now, normally this would never happen. I can focus for an hour, or maybe two, but three and a half hours without moving? Without a snack? Without peeing? Not usually. Maybe it was because I was sick. Maybe I had so little energy that my attention couldn't wander. Or maybe it's because about an hour before I started working I had a slice of coffee-infused coffee cake with an espresso glaze. Normally I wouldn't eat such a thing (it's caffeinated!), but it was from The Book. I had to make it, and once I made it I had to eat it so I could grade it. So there I was: caffeinated. And focused. Coincidence? I don't know. I have gathered, from my caffeine-addicted friends, that even if this hyper-focusing phenomenon was due to the caffeine, it would probably wear off as my body adjusted to being caffeinated. I would become addicted again, and need more and more caffeine for the same effect. And probably, if I started drinking caffeine in the quantities that I was before, I would also start feeling bad again. So what do I do? I haven't decided. Perhaps it is possible to strictly limit myself to one caffeinated beverage per day. That's never worked for me in the past though... One becomes two, which rapidly becomes eight. It isn't pretty. So, no decisions have been made. Thoughts?


Anonymous said...

You don't know me, but I enjoy reading your blog and recipes and it sounds to me like you're a little depressed over your boyfriend leaving, which is totally
understandable, and are therefore considering "succumbing" to this "addiction." That said, I know your use of the word "addiction" is facetious, but any addiction, however benign, is no good.
Just hold on and the depression will pass! And continue with the excellent blogs and recipes!

Anonymous said...

Status quo:
No Caffeine --> good focus --> good, steady work
Caffeine --> hyperfocus --> lots of work
Caffeine --> hyperfocus --> some work, then --> headache --> no work --> more caffeine --> worse headache --> negative work --> ...

Diet coke at McD's = fond memory, bad idea.

Chris said...

Oops, that was me, obviously.

P.S. I removed all the toxic stuff from my livingroom floor, so you can arrive without fear =)

Magdalen said...

Um, am I the only one who doesn't see this as "black (no sugar)" and "white (no foam)"? It sounds like you don't want to go back to daily doses of caffeine. So, don't. Maybe you only make the coffee cake for special study occasions! As long as it's not a daily thing, your body won't get as accustomed to it. And if you find yourself craving the coffee cake, then you go back to a no-caffeine-at-all policy!

Anonymous said...

Don't do it!! (Of course, my own habits might make me slightly biased...But really, ppl all around me are so reliant on caffeine it's a bit disturbing, and really can't be healthy). Love, Rachel

Teena said...

Wow, what a response! Well, so far I am holding out and staying caffeine-free. As Chris pointed out, my caffeine-drinking days make for fond memories but it is probably a bad idea to go down that road again. (And Chris witnessed the depths of my caffeine addiction the first time, so he would know!)