Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Vegitable Soup, Russian Style

Greetings LIFEers! There is nothing better than hot homemade soup on a cold winter's day. But we live in Texas, so we get to eat hot homemade soup on a warm winter's day, which is almost as good. Dr. Anna Apple Schmidt joined our class to share with us her family recipe for Ukrainian vegetable soup, or borscht, as it is commonly known. Borscht is eaten through out Russia and Europe, although the recipe changes from country to country, and household to household. Ukrainian borscht is probably the most famous variety, and it traditionally uses beets, which give borscht its distinctive red color.

1-2 soup shanks (a.k.a. soup bone or sugar bone)
3-4 medium potatoes cut into thin strips (like French fries)
1 can Swanson Vegetable Broth (optional)
2-4 table spoons of oil. Dr. Schmidt uses vegetable or canola oil. Olive, grape seed or any other is also okay.
1 small onion chopped
1-2 medium carrots shredded
1 tomato chopped (optional)
1/4 orange or red bell pepper cut into thin strips (optional)
2 small or 1 medium beet peeled and shredded
4-5 tablespoons of crushed tomatoes (Dr. Schmidt prefers Hunts variety), but you can substitute with tomato sauce.
1 small or 1/2 large cabbage finely shaved
Salt and pepper to taste, and Season All
2 bay leaves
Garnish - sour cream, fresh finely chopped dill and/or parsley

Cooking Directions:
1) One or two days ahead of time boil soup bones until the meat is falling off the bone (3 hours). Refrigerate until you are ready to make the soup.
2) When you are ready to start cooking the soup, heat up the broth with the bones, take the bones out and separate meat from bones, fat, etc... You may discard the meat and bones altogether, surprise your dog, or add the meat to the soup.
3) The broth might be too rich, so consider adding 1 can of Vegetable broth and 1 can of water.
4) Add potatoes cut into strips into the broth and let cook.
5) You may add pieces of meat at any time in the process. Dr. Schmidt usually adds the meat after the potatoes.

6) Meanwhile, on medium heat in a frying pan, saute onions in vegetable oil until translucent or slightly golden. This is your vegetable mixture.
7) Add shredded carrots and continue cooking.
8) When the carrots are cooked, add the following ingredients one at a a time and let cook: thin strips of bell pepper (optional), chopped tomato (optional), shredded beets.
9) When the vegetables are almost done, add 4-5 tablespoons of crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce and continue cooking for about 5 minutes.

10) Back in the borscht pot, the potatoes should now be cooked. Add the vegetable mixture to the pot and stir.
11) Add salt, pepper, and Season All (makes everything taste better!). Remember, beets and cabbage "eat" salt, so you might have to add more than what you would normally use.
12) Add finely shaved cabbage and 2 bay leaves.
13) Bring everything to a boil, let simmer for 5-8 minutes. Do not overcook the cabbage.
14) Serve in a soup bowl with a dollop of sour cream sprinkled with finely chopped dill and parsley.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

eAudio Books at the Library

November 16 — Audio Books at the LibraryDorrie Scott gives an update about Kindle, the Nook, and all the great free audio books at the library.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Flambé et Brûlé

Bonjour LIFEers! Today we welcomed back our favorite French Professor and all around funny-man, Georges Detiveaux, who we learned was Knighted in France! Georges received the Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Palmes Academiques for his excellence in academics and teaching the French language and French culture. Congratulations Georges! Perhaps by teaching a few French cooking classes you can be elevated to the the title of Officer... Our LIFE class will always welcome you back, especially after today's success.

Georges explained to us some of the basics of French desserts, focusing on the classic dishes of crème brûlée and bananas foster. Crème brûlée means "burnt cream" in French, but we like the way it sounds in French better. Did you know that vanilla beans actually come from an orchid plant? Did you also know that you can cheat at a Crêpe Suzette recipe by buying the crêpes already made at the grocery store? Both are true, but you probably don't want to say the latter to a French cuisine connoisseur. Also, feel free to use a kitchen blow torch or a candle lighter to light your bananas foster on fire. You are less likely to burn your house down using that method over the traditional tilt-the-pan method.

Check out some of the famous French recipes at Georges' website below, and be sure to celebrate National French Week this November 8-14th.

Your funny for the day: when asked if he had any sugar-free French dessert recipes, Georges replied, "You're asking the wrong person. I don't do anything for free." Thank you Georges!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Beads, Glorious Beads

Greetings LIFEers! Today's LIFE class was all about beading. We've covered beading for a cause. Now we learned beading for the sheer fun of it. Stacy Gressell and Sunnye Pruden led our class today in creating beautiful necklaces.

When making your jewelry, try to lay out the entire piece first on a cloth (so the beads won't roll away). It is much easier to string the beads after you've organized them so you don't realize halfway through the process that you've made a mistake and have to start over.

Tools you will need:
Tiger wire
Crimping Tool - to attach the toggle bead at the end near the clasp
Wire Cutters - to cut the tiger wire when you are finished making the necklace
Round Nose Pliers - use these to make earrings
Bent Nose or Flat Nose Pliers

Places to get supplies:
Hobby Lobby - half their beads on sale each week - never pay full price!