I hardly ever follow a recipe, even my own. I tend to change things around based on my mood, the contents of my fridge, and how distracted I might be :-). I know I've said this before, so when faced with a request from a friend of how to make borscht, I gladly obliged. Months later after she had another bowl and conveniently pulled out a copy I sent her a time ago, she started quizzing me whether I followed my own directions. Short story – I didn't.
When I start making something, I can envision what it should or would taste like. So along the way I adjust, cajole and improvise to get to my final destination. This is especially true with soups. 

So in the recipe below I gave many different options, but I would encourage you to improvise as well.

1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, grated (sometimes one grated, and the others chopped into quarter inch half circles)
2 celery sticks, chopped (occasionally I will skip these)
1 lb stew beef (or short ribs, or osso Buco, or no meat at all)
1 bunch beets (about four medium sized, or three large)
1 can, canned tomatoes (or three large peeled tomatoes chopped, and their juice)
1 can, tomato paste (for half a cup of Heinz tomato ketchup)
1/2 head of cabbage, Core removed
Salt to taste
1-2 teaspoons Smoked paprika
Fresh ground black Pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tablespoons of chopped dill

In a thick bottomed pot, heat olive oil. Roast onions until turning golden and add carrots and celery. Cook on medium heat until carrots are starting to turn golden. Add beef and roast for 7 to 10 minutes.  Add water to cover and add peeled beets. Bring to a boil on medium heat and turn down the heat. Skim off any protein. Cook with lid close for 1.5 hours. Remove the beets, grate and set aside. Add canned tomatoes. Remove 1 cup of soup and mix with tomato paste and add back to the pot. Add the grated beets. Salt to taste and add about 1 tsp of smoked paprika. Shred cabbage and add to the soup. Turn off the heat, add the dill and close the lid.

Enjoy with a heaping tablespoon of sour cream, and for those that know me, with a teaspoon of hot mustard. A great addition I learned from my dad.


Farina Buttermilk Pancakes

1/4 c dry farina
1/4 c boiling water
1 egg
1/4 c flour 
1/2 c buttermilk
1/4 c finely shredded carrots (purple carrots are the coolest looking)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sugar
Pinch of salt

Mix farina and boiling water and let stand. Whip the egg, sugar and salt together. Add in buttermilk and baking soda, then mix in the farina, carrots and flour. Let stand for 20 minutes, then fry in coconut oil.


Kefir Crepes

2 eggs
1 cup boiling water
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup kefir
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp sugar
2.5 tbsp vegetable oil

Whisk eggs for about a minute and add in salt. Whisk in water in a thin stream as you continue whisking. Whisk in the kefir. Slowly start adding flour and soda while whisking. Add in sugar and oil. 

Fry on a heavy pan (like cast iron) on both sides; turning when the crepe turns golden.