No Florida Fare During a Polar Vortex ~ beet soup (Winter Borscht)

Winter Borscht

With temps in Jacksonville dipping to 32 degrees at night (not good for the orange groves), I wanted something warm and comforting to eat. Shrimp ceviche, chicken salad with white grapes,  or Caesar salad with roasted chicken pieces  wasn’t as appealing as it was a week ago.

So, I fell back on the Slavic food of my heritage and a couple of days ago whipped up a pot of vegetarian winter borscht. I didn’t eat it vegetarian. I sprinkled a healthy dose of uncured real bacon bits on top and added the dollop of light sour cream you see in the photo. I never use fat-free sour cream. It’s got imitation everything. But I often has as a staple in my fridg uncured bacon or light (reduced fat) sour cream.

I don’t give recipes any more because I don’t use them. I chopped up two stalks of organic celery and threw it in because I had it on hand, wanted to use it, and celery is healthy eating. My mother and grandmother didn’t use celery in their borscht, but I’ve found it in some recipes. Of course, to me, these are simply guidelines. I like cooking without a net.

Speaking of cooking without a net…as it hadn’t gotten any warmer, yesterday I made a pot of brats with cabbage, canned tomatoes and tomato paste, carrots, onion, celery…totally without a net. I use little to no oil and the Johnsonville beef brats were lean. So, I threw in some organic apple cider vinegar to add flavor. It was only partially successful. During the next Polar Vortex, when I make it again, I’ll also add cubed Granny Smith apples. I think that would make it absolutely yummy.

I cook without a net, however, I don’t recommend living without one. If my recipe is only semi-successful, I can improve on it the next time. In life, sometimes there is no next time. When we make a mistake, we might have to live with the consequences for years. Jesus is my net. I believe in intentional living based on biblical principals without being legalistic, and it works for me.

For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. ~ Jeremiah 29: 11 [New American Standard Bible, NASB]

There are many excellent winter borscht recipes. Here’s a simple one from Eating Well Recipes that looked really good to me and doesn’t have exotic ingredients my Ukrainian grandmother never heard of and doesn’t require a culinary degree to prepare it.

Eating Well Borscht

 

 

Ale Pie House ~ restaurant review

Ale Pie 1
Menu

This place is similar to an Italian restaurant/cafe in NYC. They have thin pie crusts like I’m used to from my years in Brooklyn. They also have their own delish specialty pies. They’re near my veterinarian. So, if I ever have to leave a pet off and am in need of comfort food…it is near at hand.

I’ve been here twice. Once with a large group of Christian women who dine out once a month. We had an abfab time and everyone said their food was very good. I had to be challenging. I asked them to make a New York style thin crust pie like I used to order in Brooklyn. I asked for one side of the pie to have sliced meatballs and the other side anchovies. They’d never had anyone ask for that. Still they made it and it was excellent.

Ale Pie 2
Grilled Chicken Pie, it’s got broccoli

The next time I came with two friends. We all ordered specialty pies. Mine was the Florence Pie. It was the first time I’ve ever had pickles on pizza. Very good. This is a go-to place for me.

They also have salads, Italian entrees, and luscious desserts.

This review first appeared in Yelp.

 
 
Ale Pie House
3951 St Johns Ave
Jacksonville, FL 32205

Westside ~ 904-503-8000

 

Ale Pie 4
This one they made up special too. It’s half white pie and I think it’s half veggie. Can’t recall what my friend asked for.
Ale Pie 3
They call it Pesto Pie, with pesto, goat cheese, pineapple and olives. Interesting combo