Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Borscht is Forever

First Christmas has come and gone in the Baird household.

Wiat, you say, first Christmas?

Well, yeah, we celebrate both Christmases here: the Catholic and the Orthodox. It's not that my wife is particularly religious (she isn't). It's not that I am either (I am definitely not). But it sets our family apart from others and yet still allows us to participate in what everybody else is doing at the same time.

Yes, we also celebrate the New Year and the Old New Year. Schmatree, it's just plain fun.

My daughter made out like a bandit, just as you'd expect. Anything fromthe traditional stuffed animals and wooden blocks to more nouveau electronic teaching toys. She did rather well. My wife also did well with DVDs, clothing via Victoria's Secret and a piece of jewelry. I did pretty well. My wife's campaign to completely recloth me continues. My polo shirts continue a vigorous rearguard action though.

The most fun, after watching my wife and daughter open their gifts, was the cooking!

I baked three pumpkin pies (from scratch) and a rhubarb pie. I also made some homemade fudge. On Christmas Day I cooked a goose and also whipped up some habenero spiced black tiger shrimp. My wife made three traditional salads (one with meat and beans; another with pickles, peas and potatoes; another one is made of beets and nuts and liberal amounts of garlic). My wife also made akroshka with buttermilk, cucumbers, and carbonated water (yup, you read that right!). Most importantly though, on Christmas Eve, Lyuda made borscht.

Growing up, my mother made - on every Christmas Eve - New England Clam Chowder. It was good. It grew into a tradition. It seems to be a family tradition for each of my siblings. My brother's family makes chowder. My two sisters apparently make chowder. We, the Bairds of Emeryville, make borscht. Obviously, this is because my wife is a Ukrainian immigrant, right? Well, yes...and no. I wanted to continue the tradition of soup on Christmas Eve: that's an important one, but I wanted to make my family branch a little unique. I don't mind us being a Baird tree, just I'd like to speciate a bit. My wife concured.

So she made borscht.

It was good. No, that's unfair. It was amazingly good. Cooked with love and spiced with the holiday. And, oh, it's not Russian borscht. It's Eastern Ukrainian Borscht. It isn't sweet is fat, fat, fat because the carrots, beets, and onions are fried in lard prior to being added to the soup. mmm. I'm glad it's all but gone and it's a pain to make. I'd prolly die happy of a heart attack from it.

My daughter tried it, btw, and LOVED it. The title of the post comes from one of the two favorite food quotes from this holiday. This one was my wife talking to me about stains and the dangers of not putting a bib on Avrora when she's eating soups and drippy things. Stains come and go, but borscht is forever.

The other quote is for another time. and another post.

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