Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Losing My Mind

There are days that I think I am undeniably losing my mind.

If I don't add it to a list, I will not make the purchase at the store. If I have to walk into another room or up and down the stairs, I probably won't remember what I wanted to do when I get there. If I start cooking something that needs to simmer, I had better set the timer to check on it later, or it will probably boil dry from neglect. I had to turn the alerts on my washer and dryer back on because even though I seem to constantly be doing laundry, without a reminder, the last load of the day will sit in the machine until it stinks with gross dampness. I probably won't remember your name when I see you; so if I seem stuck up or aloof, I am sorry. In the middle of conversation, a word will leave me completely and totally and I will stammer like an idiot. And, to top it all off, one day not that long ago, I couldn't figure out how to shut off the water in our basement shower. I swear that it took me five minutes of frantically cranking the handles one way or another with the water changing from hot to cold, but never stopping.

The recent push for public awareness of Alzheimer's and other dementia does raise my level of hypochondria. There is a history of some issues on one side of my family, and my husband's family is living with the heartbreaking challenge of a member's diagnosis. I worry that my slips could be some early onset warning signs.

And then, there are times when my forgetfulness is delicious.

While vacationing, one of our lunches was at a bistro with Golden Beet Borscht as the soup of the day. Served with a simple quiche and a fresh tossed salad, that soup was light and delicate, but still flavorful. I knew it was something that I wanted to recreate when I returned home, and after finding a recipe to play with, I began cooking.

I sauteed onions and garlic, added potatoes, beets, cabbage, and zucchini, and simmered all the vegetables in stock. Turmeric boosted the color while dill and lemon brought a brightness. A dollop of sour cream on top was a departure from the bistro's borscht, but was a great contrast for the rich, earthy vegetables. My pot of soup was exquisite, and I proudly thought that I had nailed it.

Then, I looked back at the photos snapped during that trip and see that the bistro's golden beet borscht was creamy. It was still a brothy and light soup, not thick like a chowder, but absolutely creamy. Perhaps instead of that dollop of sour cream on the finished soup, a splash of heavy cream was swirled through the entire pot? It was decidedly not like mine. I had not nailed it.

My soup isn't, after all, a recreation of what we savored on vacation. My memory has, yet again, failed me. However, it failed me in a very delicious way.

(Adapted from Blue Apron)

1-2 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 medium golden beets, peeled and cubed
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/4 head of cabbage, thinly sliced
6 cups vegetable stock
1 small zucchini, cubed 
juice of one lemon
1-2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped (plus more for garnish)
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons sour cream

Heat olive oil in a large pot.
Add the onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until softened.
Add the garlic and heat just until fragrant.
Add the turmeric and cook, stirring, until toasted.
Add the beets and, again, season with salt and pepper. (May need to add a little more oil at the point to keep ingredients from burning.)
Cook, covered, but stirring often, until slightly softened.
Remove the lid and add the vegetable stock, potatoes, and cabbage. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 10-15 minutes, until potatoes are tender.
Add the zucchini, lemon juice, dill, and honey and simmer a few minutes more until zucchini is slightly softened.
Remove from heat and serve each bowl topped with a dollop of sour cream and additional dill for garnish. (Serves 4)

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