04 March 2024

Birthdays past (2)

In March 2008, my birthday was a stay-at-home affair. For my birthday dinner, I made a big pot of borscht. That's a kind of pot au feu (pot roast) that includes lean beef, red beets, onions, carrots, and other root vegetables like turnips or parsnips. You serve it with steamed potatoes, egg noodles, or pasta. You can serve the broth and vegetables as a soup. Cut up the the meat and put some of it in the soup, or don't eat it in the soup but save it for another use. The meat for this borscht was slow cooked beef shank, which made a good broth.

Borscht is an eastern European dish. I'm not sure, but I think the first time I ever ate it was about 40 years ago in Paris, when I was living and working there. I knew a French woman from Burgundy who had been married to a Russian émigré back before World War II. She had learned to make borscht because he liked it, I think. I liked the version she made, and she gave me the recipe (or method, really). Making a big meal like borscht for my birthday or other special occasions is one of my favorite things to do. Here's a link to my post about making borscht in 2008.

Today I'll be cooking a pot of white beans — either lingots blancs (cannelini beans) or pois du Cap, known in France as haricots de Soissons (big white lima beans). I haven't made up my mind yet. We'll enjoy them this week seasoned with with duck fat and served with duck leg and thigh pieces, along with saucisses de Toulouse (plain pork sausages, not smoked).

Here's what the weather was like on my birthday in 2008, when I turned 59. We had been here for nearly five years at that point. If I remember, it had snowed a week earlier, but all the snow had melted and it felt like springtime.


  1. We got an e-mail the other day saying the phone company will be working on our fiber optics network tomorrow morning. I'm not sure I'll be able to post (or get and send e-mail, or watch TV, or use our land-line phone. We'll see how it all works out.

  2. I think of you whenever I'm in the bean aisle of the grocery store, Ken :)

  3. There was a whole segment on Télématin yesterday about beans, all the varieties, and how good they are for us and how tasty they are. I grew up eating them all the time. I remember my mother saying decades later that she cooked them often because they were nourishing and they were something we could afford.

  4. Happy Birthday tomorrow, Ken!!
    That borscht looks delicious.

  5. Happy Birthday, Ken! I'll try to send an email--hope you get it. xoxo Ginny

  6. Joyeux anniversaire, Ken, on the 5th, if you can't post an entry that day! Best wishes for good health and happiness in the year ahead, and beyond!
    Jim F.


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