Tag: Bearder

The awesomeness of borsch, bortsch, borstch, borsh, borshch, борщ!

enjoy today, tomorrow and all week!

Unlike the British Ukrainians have a deep emotional, social, physical and probably metaphysical attachment to soup.

In England, soup generally belongs at the two extremes of our social hierarchy. At the lower end, soup is served to the poor and homeless in ‘soup kitchens’ because its economical,  hot and mostly made from cheap left-overs. At the higher end of the social spectrum soup is the ‘starter’ course in upper-class households where they have both the time and money to eat three-course meals regular basis.   Soup doesn’t really exist for the UK’s middle-class unless its a cuppa-soup (instant soup) which is not real, or as an occasional luxury when they are celebrating or trying to be extravagant or posh.

Not so in Ukraine. Soup here is the cornerstone of any meal and eating/drinking soup is a daily ritual akin to the way the British drink tea.

It should be no surprise therefore, to discover that they are bloody-good at making it!  And, of course, the queen of all Ukrainian soups is the mighty borsch.

In fact, that statement will probably cause outrage among my Ukrainian friends because,  having such a ‘soup’ culture, means that most Ukrainians are as nuanced with soup descriptions and names as the Italians are with coffee. Borsch to them is not soup – its borsch!

However, as a Brit, I’m classifying all liquid foods as ‘soup’ in the same way I classify all coffee as coffee regardless of how big or small it is or how fluffy the milk is.

Anyway, back to the borsch. Borsch is probably best known because of its bright red colour which comes from its key ingredient – beetroot. However, it is much more than just beetroot soup. It may or may not contain meat and it definitely will contain a bundle of other healthy vegetables. This includes carrots, potatoes, onion and the other Ukrainian favourite – cabbage.

It is often finished with parsley or dill and served with garlic bread and a dollop of sour-cream. Its delicious.

Personally, I’ll eat borsch however it comes. With meat (pork, beef or chicken), without meat, and with or without anything else. If its hot, red and tastes mostly of beetroot – I’ll eat it.  However, when I’m cooking it – I’m almost exclusively vegetarian borsch man. There’s two reasons for this. The first is called Dasha and she was my vegetarian housemate and the second is time. Cooking borsch with meat requires a level of dedication and preparation which I lack in the kitchen and in most other things in life.

Nevertheless, while it is easier – cooking vegetarian borsch is still suitably rewarding, its delicious, and once you’ve cooked it, you can live on it for days.

So, without further ado, here is the world exclusive guide to cooking Bearder’s spicy vegetarian Ukrainian borsch(ish) 

To make Bearders’s spicy vegetarian Ukrainian borsch(ish)  you will need:

  • 2 or 3 potatoes
  • two medium sized carrots
  • one large or, preferably two smallish beetroots. For some reason, I think borsch always looks and tastes better if you combine two beetroots.
  • One medium sized or two small onions (any type)
  • Two or three garlic gloves
  • Tomato puree
  • A cabbage
  • Two carrots
  • A single red chili-pepper
  • A pepper (red or yellow, it doesn’t matter – everything in borsch ends up red!)
  • Water (about two liters) or ‘stock’ if you’re some kinda master chef.
  • Salt and pepper
  • A bay leaf or two if you have any.

Optional extras to garnish and eat the soup with:

  • Garlic bread
  • Fresh herbs
  • Sour cream

NB: If you’re in Ukraine, you’ll probably find all of these things on a street corner near your house. If that fails, walk to a metro station and look for the babushka’s. They’ll fix you up with everything you need.

Also, all veg should be as dirty and ugly as possible. There’s no place for translucent supermarket carrots in my borsch.

OK. Here’s what to do…

1. Get the ingredients

Get everything ready

2. Peel and chop the potatoes into small chunks.

Chop the potatoes into small bits - its easy

3. Put the chopped potato pieces into a large pan. Fill it with about 2 litres of water, add salt, cover and turn up the heat. Basically, put the spuds on to boil.

boil the potatoes

4. Now start on the other veg. First the onions. Chop them up into REALLY small pieces and then add them to a frying pan with a good splash of oil. Not having enough oil normally means they will burn.  Fry on a low heat.

don't cry

Also don't turn the heat up too high or they will burn

5. Now you have about 10 minutes to get everything else ready. Start with the chili-pepper. Chop it into very small pieces and throw it in with the onion.

6. Add ground herbs and/or garlic to the onion and chilli and, if you want, chop and add the garlic too. Stir it all up and let it fry while you prepare the red stuff.

7. First ‘shave’ or peel the beetroot removing the crusty outside layer, but leaving the bottom knot.  You should have red fingers after this so be careful what you touch.

Peel or 'shave' the beetroot

8. Great the beetroot(s) with a cheese grater. Now you should look like you have committed murder.

You should look like you've murdered someone

9. Add the grated beetroot to the pan, mix it all up and fry it.

Add the beetroot to the onion and fry

10.  Peel and grate the carrots and chop the cabbage.

Grate the carrot and chop the cabbage

11. Throw the carrots, cabbage and (if you didn’t fry it ) the garlic in with the boiling potatoes

Add the carrot and the cabbage to the boiling potatoes

12. Add two big spoons of tomato purée to the beetroot mix and fry it for another 5-10 minutes until the whole thing is a soft sticky red mess. If needed you can add a little water to help.

fry the beetroot etc until it is soft and pasty

13. Throw the red sticky stuff in with the boiling vegetable stuff.  Give it a good stir, cover it and let it simmer for 20-minutes

Throw it ALL into the pan, cover and boil

14. While you’re waiting, clean the sink, wash up and chop some parsley

Sinks are the best place for catching peelings

15. After half an hour, turn off the heat, and serve-up your tasty spicy borsch. Add the parsley and a big dollop of sour cream.

Add parsley, salt and pepper (if needed) and sour cream

16. Eat the tasty borsh and be happy. Repeat tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day etc until the borsch is gone. You be as fit as a Ukrainian.

enjoy today, tomorrow and all week!

Well Water for city dwellers

The water supply system has broken down in a subburb of the Ukrainian capital of Kiev. No worries. There is always the local water well. Dozens of people line up to get there plastic bottles filled.

There is also a queue in a nearby district. No problems with the water system here, but people just prefer water from Mother Nature. Tap water in Ukraine is of poor quality. Many wells are located on church property. The sacral environment makes the water better to the taste locals.

By Jerom Rozendaal

One man, one week, one mission…

Ian Bearder stars in “The King’s P-P-Patio”
Act 1 

Act 2 

Act 3

Posted from: www.bearder.com

Ello Elbow!

I was nonchalantly stretching my arms yesterday by bending both arms up in a classic ‘strong man’ pose, when I heard a worrying tearing sound. I rolled up my jumper to discover that my shirt had ripped right open around my right elbow. Upon seeing this (and despite the obvious concern for my favourite shirt) I temporarily basked in the glory of the fact that, like the Incredible Hulk, I had just flexed a muscle and burst from my clothes. However; this initial feeling of power and vindication for the many years of firm belief that I am indeed super-hero , soon gave way to concern as I realised that it has only been a week since my right elbow poked its way curiously out of another one of my favourite tops. So, what’s going on? Why is my right elbow doing this to my poor clothes? …maybe it’s growing? or maybe I’ve started leaning on it or disproportionally rubbing it in comparison to the left elbow? Who knows? but, if you see me unconsciously doing something with my right elbow or you think my right elbow looks bigger than the last time you saw me – please say so. I need to put an end to this problem because, unlike 1970’s mothers – I cannot sew patches.

Posted from: www.bearder.com

A Short History of Ukrainians in English.

In just six days time I’m off to live, love, laugh and limbo-dance like a Ukrainian and so, I’ve been on a Ukrainian fact-finding mission.

This is what I found…

Meaning ‘borderland’ Ukraine is home to 46 million people and has only existed as an independent country since the early 1990’s. However, it all started way-back in the day, a long long time ago, in a crazy town called Kiev.

Existing since the 6th century, Kiev was (like many English towns) created by Scandinavian Vikings and during the 10th century the state of ‘Kievan Rus’ became the largest and most powerful in Europe. It was run by a dude or ‘crown prince’ called Vladimir Volodymyr (Vlad the great) who is widely regarded as the founding farther of Ukraine and was responsible for converting everyone to Orthodox Christianity. Apparently, he didn’t like Paganism anymore so he set about finding a replacement (I love the way religions work) and he found Christianity. Mr Volodymyr chose Orthodox Christianity because he liked booze and pork (so Islam was no good) and he liked women and indulgence too so Judaism and Catholicism were out of the question. Actually, Vlad was dam good at indulgence and had about 800 concubines and numerous wives.

Anyway, he baptised the whole city (in the Dnieper river) with his new religion and the eastern Slavs have been stuck with it ever since.

Things in Kievan Rus were pretty cool until 1240 when the Mongolians came on their little horses and destroyed everything.

Kiev was rebuilt but, in the following centuries Ukrainian land was controlled by its powerful neighbours: the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (yes, little Lithuania used to be powerful), the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Muscovite Russia and finally the Russian Empire.

Of course, there are many political explanations for these foreign occupations but what most history books don’t tell you is – the Polish and Lithuanians were mostly there for the Rusalkas. That is, the green-eyed fish-women, who lived at the bottom of rivers. In the middle of the night, they would walk out to the bank, dance in meadows, ask questions and tickle men to death! …the Polish just love to be tickled!

Ukraine has two main languages (Ukrainian and Russian) and both use the Cyrillic alphabet. Ukrainian is predominant in Kiev and the west of the country and Russian in the east. I don’t understand either (or Cyrillic) so both are equally confusing for me but, I believe that, like in the UK – the minority (in this case Ukrainian) will speak both and the Russian majority will mostly speak just Russian.

Ukrainian nationalism has a long and, well, unsuccessful history but the Ukrainian language and literature did flourish in the 19th century when the smooth-talking ladies-man Taras Shevchenko captured the national spirit in his poems and writings.

Unfortunately though, whilst benefiting from Ukrainian land (and mythical creatures) Ukraine’s foreign landlords haven’t always been good. To be honest, they have almost never been good and the Ukrainians have been subjected to a long history of serfdom, terror, exploitation and massacre. The worst by far, being Starlin’s forced collectivisation or Holodomor (1932–33) which resulted in the starvation of about 6 million Ukrainians – yes, that’s a horrific six million deaths in one year. The Nazis had their turn in 1941 where Babi Yar in Kiev was witness to the murder of more than 33,000 Jews over the course of a five day period.

Actually, go back a decade or so and the British and French also drew blood in Ukraine having a successful pop at the Russians in the Crimean War. We won but, if you fancy a laugh and you’re not familiar with the ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’ then read here. It’s magnificent but, it’s not war.

Sadly, Ukraine also became infamous in 1986 when the ill-fated Chernobyl nuclear reactor blew up during testing, dumping large amounts of radioactive stuff on it’s northern neighbours. The explosion and the subsequent handling or mishandling of events by the communist authorities highlighted how rotten and corrupt the entire Soviet system had become. It was, in many ways, the start of the end for the USSR.

Alas, Ukraine didn’t do too well from this break-up either or the IMF/World Bank sponsored ‘shock therapy’ capitalism that followed and the country lost 60 percent of its GDP from 1991 to 1999. Recovery picked-up between 2004 and 2007 only to be scuppered with the onset of the recent financial crisis.

So, Ukraine isn’t a rich country but, what they lack in money – they more than make up for in unhappiness. As you can see here (or here) Happiness surveys usually place Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus somewhere close to ‘grumpy’. However, experience tells me, that if you travel anywhere in Europe further south or east of Slovenia, you’ll find any number of people who despair at the state of their nation (with the possible exception of Albania and Turkey where nationalism often blinds reality) and can people be as pessimistic as the most ardent Daily Mail readers. However, I wouldn’t pay too much attention to these surveys, Ukrainians can be happy too – I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

…and anyway, statistics are only half the story and life in Ukraine doesn’t stop! In 2004, in the same year as its Orange revolution, Ukraine surely reached its proudest moment in history winning Eurovision with a song called ‘Wild Dance’. It’s probably because of this (and maybe the Crimea) that, in 2007 Ukraine was ranked the 8th most visited country in the world!

Where does a country go from here?

Answer: It gets itself a Bearder! That’s what…

‘Ian the Great’ …hmmmm, I like this title

Posted from: www.bearder.com

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