Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Dark Days Week 16: Borsch with Homemade Beef Stock

When we bought an eighth of beef in the fall from a church friend, I asked the butcher for some soup bones too. And then I saw some bones for sale from my Amish butcher at market. A plethora of bones!

After roasting bones for stock, I normally simmer them in my crockpot, but this batch was too big so it went into my big stockpot with some peppercorns, salt, vinegar, and onions. For two whole days.

Then I skimmed it of most of the fat, packaged it up and tucked it in the freezer.

In true Great Depression-style, I saved the fat I skimmed and after a little research, discovered that in its now-rendered state, it is called beef tallow and is akin to lard. I've been frying some foods in it; I know about tallow candles and I learned more weird non-food uses here, but I'd like to know what else the housewives of yore did with tallow.

With all that stock in my possession, a soup like Borsch took me a half hour to make. The recipe came from More with Less and I followed it closely since I hadn't made Russian Mennonite style Borsch before. I've made the shredded beet version, but this one had beef stock, potatoes, cabbage, onions, and tomatoes (all local and organic except that onion). My cabbage is the size a baby.

It was seasoned with lots of dill and a hot pepper; unfortunately, my frozen chunk of local hot pepper was far hotter than I realized and my children couldn't eat much. At the table, we dolloped homemade plain yogurt on top.

I scratched my head over what kind of bread to have; the only local bread I have in my repertoire is cornbread and that just didn't sound right here. Then I came across a quick bread, again in the More with Less, called Onion Cheese Loaf. I made it with local whole wheat pastry flour, local cheese, local butter/egg/milk, and subbed local garlic for the onion. It was a rich cheesy counterpoint to the spicy Borsch.


Meredith said...

That sounds like a delicious meal! I have the More With Less cookbook, but I admit to being less than adventurous when cooking for my kids. Thanks for the inspiration!

Mrs. Money said...

That looks SO GOOD! Yum.

Crystal said...

Thanks for the idea, I had some cabbage in the fridge that needed attention and I couldn't decide what to do with it until I read this post. The soup is delicious!

Anonymous said...

Make soap with your tallow!! I used bacon fat for mine: http://hippieingeeksclothing.wordpress.com/2010/01/30/meat-day-or-how-to-make-your-own-soap/

Margo said...

dear hippie, I just love buying other people's cool soap so much that I don't think I will ever make my own. One of the stores downtown has an old clawfoot bathtub in the store just filled with gorgeous, whimsical soaps. I love going in there and picking one out - it's a very cheap indulgence.