Monday, April 14, 2008

Jellied Borscht (Page 85)

  • Date: Friday, April 11, 2008 -- 8pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: C+

Matty loves borscht, and there are a couple borscht recipes in The Book, both of which I promised not to make without him. When I made this promise he likely didn't realize that one of those recipes was actually for jellied borscht. Mmm.... beet jello. When I was little my mom used to make Jello Jigglers for me, and they were delicious. Mmmm.... jello! My problem with this recipe was that every time I looked at it I thought, mmmm.... jello! But then I would take a bite, and think, "&%$*#, beet jello." Even now I look at the picture and think it looks good. I have to remind myself that I ate sour cream and cucumber on bread that night instead of eating this beet jello. The gelatinous texture did not do good things for this dish. Actually this dish had a quality which really bothers me -- this dish was all about show. It was sort of cool to have a bowl full of gelatinized soup. It was very pretty, and obviously quite novel. But the gelatin did nothing good for the actual eating experience. Further, this recipe started from canned borscht. So, this was a recipe for borscht, where one of the ingredients was borscht. Silly, no? Plus, this "soup" can only possibly be as good as the canned borscht you start with. Canned soups in general are not so refined. So you are producing a dish which is a little silly, but arguably very fancy and refined, starting with canned soup. Seems a little wrong, no? In conclusion: A for novelty, C for edibility. Combined grade: C+.

This recipe isn't online.

Occasionally I toy with the idea of drinking caffeine again. After nearly three years of life without caffeine, it is easy to forget why I quit in the first place. Occasionally, though, I get a little reminder. The only exception I grant myself to the no-caffeine rule is when food from The Book happens to be caffeinated. This doesn't happen so often, and even when it does I make a practice of eating not-too-much of it. A few days ago, though, I made those Mocha Toffee Cashew Bars (see below) and even though they weren't great, they were tasty enough that I ate a lot of them. All was still well with the world until yesterday, when I happened to not have any delicious caffeinated cookies all day. About 4pm my head started to throb in a way that only happens to me when I am going through caffeine withdrawal. Yes, I know that normal people do not suffer withdrawal symptoms from a few cookies, but apparently I am not normal. My body gets very easily addicted. It seems miraculous to me actually that I smoked briefly in college and didn't end up with a pack a day habit for the rest of my life. I stopped smoking before it got bad, luckily. I did not have the same luck with caffeine. I quit caffeine only after it started making me feel terrible. And after this weekend I remember exactly how terrible it made me feel! On the up side, the gentle reminder squelched my desire to start drinking caffeine again, at least for another couple years...

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