With the latest ECA Cost of Living survey wrapped up and published I’m leaving British shores tomorrow on holiday, and I hope to not step foot inside a supermarket for the whole week. I’m visiting the Ukraine in Eastern Europe, or strictly speaking, its correct name is simply ‘Ukraine’. Here is an interesting article explaining the idiosyncrasies of the ‘The’ countries – www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18233844. Ukraine is co-hosting the Euro 2012 football finals with neighbouring Poland and so I’m taking the opportunity to see the place for the first time and cheer on England when they play in the capital, Kiev. Although my mind won’t be thinking about the prices or pasta or washing machines, it will be concerned about the cost of a beer at a bar. And according to the latest ECA survey I’m in luck, with the average price in Kiev being 34% cheaper than London!
In the meantime I’ll leave you with a recipe for traditional Ukrainian Borscht – a soup to whet your appetites for the Euro finals.
|• 1 package stewing beef
• 1-2 squirts of vinegar
• 1 cube or package powdered beef broth
• 3-4 raw beets
• 1-2 raw carrots
|• fresh dill (optional)
• 1 raw potato
• sour cream, to add when serving.
• Rinse stewing beef. If necessary, cut it into spoon-sized pieces. Put beef in a large pot; add water until the pot is three-quarters full.
• Add salt to taste. Add 1 package of powdered beef broth to the water. Add the squirt or two of vinegar (less than a teaspoon). This will help to tenderize the meat. Stir. Boil the beef for 1-2 hours, depending on how much beef you have. A scum may form on top, just skim it off.
• Peel raw beets. Grate them (if you have a food processor, now is the time to use it. If you don’t have one, you can use a hand grater, but be warned that your hands will turn purple, and it may last a day or so).
• Peel the carrots; cut them into small pieces–remember this is a soup, so everything should be able to fit on a spoon.
• Once the beef has been boiling for 1-2 hours, add the carrots (they take longer to cook than the beets).
• Peel and cube the raw potato.
• About 5-10 minutes later, add the beets and potatoes. Slow boil for about 20 minutes–but keep an eye on it, because if beets are boiled too long, they can lose their colouring. You can add the dill at this point – many, many recipes for borscht have dill (to taste) in them, but our family never used it. So, if you’re a fan of dill, by all means, add some!
• When soup has been ladled out into bowls, add a dollop of sour cream to each bowl. Stir into soup. This can make it quite rich, so adjust according to taste. Do the same with additional salt and pepper.
For more hearty Ukrainian dishes see www.learnpysanky.com/recipes.html.