Last week I celebrated my favourite November tradition.
In November, Christmas arrives a little early to our kitchen...
Every year as I am stocking my cupboards with jars filled with the bounty of the local harvest - I stop -and for a change of pace print out the current seasons nuts and dried fruit order from Rancho Vignola.
I love them. They only sell wholesale and have a short window for ordering - just a few weeks in September as the new crops are being harvested. After I make my dream list and then cut it down to my really want list and then to my almost there list and finally to my what I can afford list I send it in and then wait...patiently... until delivery arrives in November. I LOVE Rancho Vignola day!
I love hauling the boxes into the kitchen and pulling out the large bags of nuts, seeds and dried fruits! I love filling jars and stocking my cupboards to bursting. I love the feeling of November. The freezers are full...the cupboards are full...Christmas baking will soon start with fruitcakes made from the freshest of nuts and dried fruits...
As soon as it arrives I conduct a little taste test. The kids try everything from Flax seeds and Hemp hearts...to Brazil nuts and Medjool dates. Some are loved by all and some appreciated by only a few...but we all love trying everything and picking our favourites. It's a mini November Thanksgiving in Canada (for those who don't know - and I know there are people who don't - up here in Canada most of the harvest comes early so we celebrate Thanksgiving in October).
Since I have been feeling so comforted knowing I have food for the winter, this week I decided to make my ultimate comfort food.
I chopped the onions, cabbage, celery, peppers, carrots, potatoes and dill (how I love the smell of fresh dill) and grated the beets and made my granny's borscht.
As I stir the pot I tell my kids the story my granny used to tell of not being able to wait for the borscht when she was two and how she pulled the borscht pot down on herself. I tell them how when I was little I used to rub my finger along the scars on her neck that mingled with the wrinkles. Granny was already old when I was young...she was two in 1913.
I think about granny's borscht frozen in old pickle jars in her freezer...(there was always borscht at granny's house). I think about my great grandmother and imagine her learning this recipe from her mother in Russia many, many years ago. I think about me as a small infant taking my first tastes of food from a bowl of borscht made with love and wonder how many generations of my family have tasted this borscht and how many of us found comfort and warmth. I think about my dad in a small restaurant in Grand Forks and the smile on his face as he tastes a bowl of borscht declaring it is just like his mom's. I wonder how many families share this recipe. I love sharing it with my children and listening to them ask for a bowl of "granny soup". I love that flavours can be transported across generations tying family together. I wonder how many more generations will find comfort in the flavours of granny's borscht...I lastly think with gratitude of my mother and silently thank her for patiently watching granny and writing down her recipe...life just wouldn't be the same without it.