Grandma's Recipes (Real-Life Edit)

by DJ Full

For decades, my grandma's recipe book stored tips for edible part of Xmas. Unlike cooking magazines, it's handwritten and packed with lifelong knowledge. This made is a powerful artifact, type between a monk's diary and book of magic. Direct translation of the manuscript plus my mother's memories and advice follows below. Before you follow any of those, keep in mind the order of mixing matters a lot and if you switch it you might, however not always have to, ruin everything.
What is needed:
for sourdough: 2 KG of beets, wholemeal bread peel, 8 cloves of garlic, 1 bay leaf, 2 pepper seeds, salt
for vegetable bullion: celery, carrot, parsley, leek
for pirogi dough: 1 1/3 glass of flour, 1 spoon of oil, salt
for stuffing: 0.05 KG of dried mushrooms, 1 onion, 1 spoon of butter, 1 egg, 2 spoons of bread crumbs, pepper, salt
for later mixing: majoram, sugar, lemon, 5 seeds of allspice, 1 sour apple, 1 onion and another bay leaf

Full variant with the sourdough:
Cut washed and peeled beets into pieces and put them in a stone pot or jar with cloves of garlic, bay leaf and 2 pepper seeds. Add a wholemeal bread peel. Flood with water mixed with salt (6 glasses for 2 flat spoons of salt). It can be tap water or mineral water, doesn't matter. All beets must be covered with water and slightly pressed to the bottom so they don't float on the surface. Cover the jar with a plate and put some weight on it (like you do when making pickles). Keep for 3 days in room temperature, while removing the coating that forms*. This is the sourdough, a starter for the soup.

Meanwhile you need the stuffing. This needs mushrooms you prepare in advance by putting them into water and soaking for 3 hours. Also meanwhile, you need the pirogi dough to put the stuffing in so you mix flour, oil and salt, roll out the dough and use a glass to cut little circles. These wait while you boil the mushrooms until they get soft, and filter them. Then you place butter on frying pan, warm it, cut onion in small pieces and fry it with mushrooms. In the end you add egg and bread crumbs but don't fry them, only care so everything is glued together. Spice it all with pepper and salt. Now you place this stuffing on those little dough circles you had cut in advance. Now fold the dough into semicircles and glue the edges together so the stuffing doesn't fall out. Then you curve the sharp edges up and glue them together. This is a kind of dumplings we nickname 'ears'. They can wait in the fridge or on the plates while you cook the actual soup.

Mix vegetable bullion (1 liter) with the sourdough. Add allspice, bay leaf, apple cut in small pieces. Boil for 20 minutes and strain. Spice with lemon, salt, pepper, sugar (not too much of the latter) and majoram. Now just place the 'ears' in the plate and flood with borscht.

Lazy variant of the soup can skip the sourdough:
just cook the beets together with vegetable bullion, in the end add more lemon juice (1 or 1 1/2 lemon) and flood the 'ears' waiting on the plate like you do in normal version.
Do the same as with borscht dumplings ('ears') but add boiled cabbage to mushroom stuffing and, when folding the dough, don't curve it up, only glue the semicircle edges. Smear with any kind of salty dip you can make on the frying pan.
  • 5 eggs
  • 0.4 L of sugar
  • 0.25 KG of margarine
  • 0.4 L of flour
  • 0.2 L of water
  • bread crumbles
  • 2 spoons of cocoa
  • 2 flat spoons of baking soda
  • any flavoured extract you want
Mix sugar with water, margarine and cocoa. Boil for few minutes. After cooling down add yolks and flour with soda. Make the dough with wooden spoon, add foam made of egg whites. Smear the baking tin with butter and sprinkle it with flour and crumbles, pour the dough onto it and bake for 40-45 minutes. After taking it out of the oven, wait 15 minutes then take it out of the tin. After it cools down, pour and smear the icing over it. Decorate however you want.
  • 1 KG Sauerkraut
  • 0.5 KG cracked peas (whole seeds)
  • 0.1 KG butter
  • salt, pepper, sugar: unmeasurable (hardest part)
Examine pea seeds, select best ones. Rinse them and put inside a pot. Flood with water, let it soak overnight. Next day check the sauerkraut. If it's very sour, rinse it. If not just proceed and squash it hard. Cut it into little pieces and flood it with boiled water so it's entirely submerged. Now boil it, as well as the soaked peas. Strain the boiled cabbage, mix with peas, then with butter. Spice it with sugar, salt and pepper.
  • 2 KG Sauerkraut
  • 1 small sweet cabbage
  • 0.3 KG smoked bacon
  • dried mushrooms
  • a tin of tomato paste
  • pepper, marjoram, onion, grated carrot
  • a bit of bigos spice mix - this is named different in each place but usually has garlic, cumin, coriander, allspice, bay leaf, marjoram and juniper fruit
  • 3 - 4 sausages but the species of each one can differ
  • a bit of cooked meat, in fact the more varied meat the better (my friends had a wild boar so whatever)
Squeeze the sauerkraut, optionally rinse it before in case if it's too sour (like in previous recipe). Cut in small pieces, put in a large pot, flood with hot water up to 1/2 of the sauerkraut layer height. Keep braising on small fire. Add mushrooms, and grated sweet cabbage. Add a mix of fried bacon and fried onion. Add cut sausages and meat (as much as you want). Add grated carrot, mix. Add tomato paste, mix. Some people add a bit of dry red wine. Spice up with pepper, majoram and bigos spice. Braise everything for 90 minutes but you can even for 180, the longer the better.