Recipes for a Cultural Experience—Soup Weather: Sweet and Sour Cabbage Borscht (Soup)Vegetarian Version

Cabbage Borscht

This soup was one of my Mother and Grandmother’s regular soups. There is a debate as to whether Cabbage Borscht is Borscht or if Beet Borscht is the only real Borscht. Both are staples in many Jewish households. My mother tended to make the cabbage version more often. She used a soup bone and soup meat. Occasionally she made the hot beet version also with meat. More often she would open a jar of store bought beet borscht- served cold with sour cream and diced cucumbers. This was good for a dairy meal or especially during Passover. It was refreshing in the summer heat. I personally prefer the cabbage version.

My grandmother was from Romania, my grandfather was from Russia. On my father’s side, he was from Lithuania. I’m not sure where this soup originated in my family. Researching the soup history shows it was a staple in Jewish households as well as non-Jewish households from many different countries. It may have originated in the Byzantine period of the 9th Century when cabbages were introduced to Byzantium. Every country and century seems to have a version of the soup. Some make it just sour, some sweet and sour. Most have meat, but my preference is a vegetarian version that leans towards the sweet side.

My version is a hearty vegetarian soup. It has a sweet and sour tang (I prefer it more on the sweet side). I’ve tried it sugar-free with Stevia and also had good results. You can make it more on the sour side by adding a squeeze of lemon or a very small pinch of sour salt (citric acid)—very, very small. I ruined a pot of soup by adding too much and haven’t used it since. The tomatoes and juice tend to have a slight tartness alone, so you don’t need much unless you like it to be very sour. Whatever version you make, it will be delicious!


1 -12 ounce bag of coleslaw mix (cabbage and carrots grated)

1-8 ounce bag of frozen mixed vegetables

6 ounces of frozen corn

1-28 ounces of crushed tomatoes

1- 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes

1-46 ounce bottle of V8 juice (or tomato juice)

1-32 ounce vegetable stock

6 tablespoons garlic powder

4-5 tablespoons Montreal seasoning

1 tablespoon salt (20 grinds of salt grinder)

1/8-1/4 cup of sugar (can start with less and adjust after cooking). (As my husband prefers it less sweet I often add it to my bowl with some stevia)

Optional sour choices -squeeze of a lemon, tiny pinch of sour salt (I leave these out)

This soup gets better the more it is cooked. Lean towards the longer cooking times.



Place all ingredients in the pot. Cook on high for 4-5 hours, on low for 8-9 hours. Adjust sweet/sour flavor as needed.


Place all ingredients in the pot. Use Soup function button. Adjust for 3:00. Let pressure release naturally. Adjust sweet/sour flavor as needed.


Place all ingredients in Dutch oven or stock pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low for 3-4 hours. Stir frequently. Adjust sweet/sour flavor as needed.


Cabbage Borscht

Recipes for a Cultural Experience-Soup Weather: Almost a Failure- Broccoli, Vegetable, Cheddar Chowder

Tweaked: Broccoli, Vegetable, Cheddar Chowder

Not everything comes out as planned, but I’m not one to give up on a potentially good dish. With some tweaks, this came out quite well. See-Results below for the tweaks I did.

This soup came about from an abundance of broccoli. I had ordered groceries pre-Thanksgiving and asked for a large bag of broccoli florets. They were out of the large bags and gave me three 12 ounce bags in its place (more than double of the original one). I steamed some for pre-thanksgiving and decided to make chowder with the rest. I’ve always loved broccoli cheddar soup so I wanted to make a somewhat healthier version of it. This is a hearty, filling soup full of broccoli and vegetables. I wanted to include other vegetables and try to reduce the calories a bit. Instead of heavy cream and a roux in the usual versions, I substituted low-fat milk and arrowroot. It does have a fair amount of cheese so it’s not totally low fat/calorie but you can make any substitutions you would like. Make it richer with the heavy cream, more cheese and a flour/butter roux, or make it lower fat with less cheese and skim milk. Evaporated skim milk gives a creamy texture to a soup. Add any additional vegetables of your preference. Your choice…it will be delicious either way. Enjoy!


2 – 32 ounce containers of vegetable stock

24 ounces broccoli florets cut into small pieces. Remove most of the stems. (If using whole broccoli cut off the florets into smaller pieces, removing the stems).

6 ounces frozen corn

8 ounces frozen mixed vegetables

1 sweet onion chopped or 3 tablespoons dried minced onions

6 tablespoons garlic powder or 2 cloves of garlic crushed

4 tablespoons Montreal seasoning

18-20 turns of the salt grinder (2-3 tablespoons of salt)

2 cups low-fat milk or whole milk (or heavy cream, 1-2 containers of evaporated skim milk)

12 ounces Sharp Cheddar shredded (additional or less cheese if you wish)

2 -3 tablespoons Arrowroot mixed in water (or make a cooked roux with butter and flour) (I don’t recommend cornstarch as it can get gummy)

Crockpot Instructions

Add all ingredients except the milk and cheese. Add additional water leaving room for the milk. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. Warm the milk to almost boiling, add the cheese, stirring until it melts. Add to the crockpot, cooking for another 20-30 minutes to meld the flavors. Use an immersion blender if you want it a little smoother. If it is still not thick, you can take some out and place in a large saucepan adding some additional arrowroot mixed in a little water to thicken. Heat to boil, stirring frequently. It will thicken as it boils. It may also thicken when you reheat it to boiling.

Results—tweaked version:

Almost a failure—I found the broccoli to be quite tough. Boiling the soup after it’s done will soften it and thicken the soup. I did remove some of the broccoli to use for another dish and added a few handful of additional shredded cheese (use sharp cheddar) and additional spices. (It was rather bland) I added a cup of whole milk to make it a little creamier. I also used the immersion blender to make some of it a little smoother. The end result was not as low-fat as I hoped but it tasted much better and more like I remember it tasting. The extra cheese, additional spices and removing some of the broccoli saved it, whew!

Serve it as a first course or make it a meal with a salad. Some hearty bread or baguette will be a great accompaniment. It will warm you on these cold days. Enjoy!

Tweaked Broccoli, Vegetable, Cheddar Chowder

Recipes for a Cultural Experience—Soup Weather: Split Pea Soup

Split Pea Soup
Split Pea Soup

This week the weather turned cold. It’s a dreary, rainy day here. It’s clear that winter is on the way. With all the talk of snow and cold weather around the country, soup can really cut the chill. Split Pea Soup is a hearty, warming soup. It can be made with or without sausage or ham. I usually use a chicken sausage or a veggie sausage. My choices are Aidell’s for chicken (usually the apple one) or Field Roast Apple for the veggie version. Adjust the seasonings to your taste. Some people serve it with thick croutons. It goes well as a first course or pair it with a salad and a crusty baguette for a whole meal as well. It will take the chill off. Soup’s On!


16 ounce bag of Dried Split Peas

2-32 ounce container of vegetable stock

2-3 tablespoons salt (15 -20 turns of grinder)

2 tablespoons pepper (10 -15 turns of grinder)

6 tablespoons ground garlic powder

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 chopped onion

2 chopped carrots or 1/2 bag of baby carrots

20 ounce bag of frozen mixed vegetables

4 tablespoons Montreal seasoning

2 Chicken Apple sausage or Veggie Apple sausage cut into small chunks

Adjust the spices to your taste. Sometimes you need to add additional spices as it may absorb the flavor.

InstaPot Instructions:

Place all the ingredients into the pot. Fill with water to fill line. Set the pot using the Soup/Broth button (2:45). Let the steam release naturally. Stir thoroughly to mix. Enjoy!

Crockpot Instructions:

Place all the ingredients into the crockpot pot. Fill with water to fill line. Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours. Stir thoroughly to mix. Enjoy!

Stovetop Instructions:

Place all the ingredients into the dutch oven or stockpot. Fill with water to top. Bring to a boil, then turn it to a low simmer. Cook for about 2 -2 1/2 hours. Stir thoroughly to mix. Enjoy!

Split Pea Soup
Split Pea Soup

Thanksgiving Traditions -Side Dishes: Wild Rice Casserole

Growing up all the holidays were a chance to have all of the family and relatives together. Thanksgiving was a joyous occasion. As I mentioned in previous posts I was the youngest in my family and all the cousins. Relatives would come up from the Twin Cities to join us.

Traditional Foods

Aside from the usual turkey, gravy, stuffing and cranberries, pies and jello molds—there was a MN tradition- Wild Rice Casserole. I mentioned the background of Wild Rice, how it was harvested in the Wild Rice Corn Chowder recipe. It’s a hearty casserole with a nutty texture that will add a taste of the north to your holiday table.

Wild Rice Casserole


1 cup wild rice (do not use a blend)

2 cups water

8 ounces sliced white or baby Bella mushrooms

3 stalks of celery diced

1 onion diced (1 large or 2 small)

1/2 stick of butter

1-2 teaspoons salt (more to taste)

1 teaspoon pepper

4 teaspoons garlic powder

Olive oil for sautéing

Cooking Spray for pan


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil the water and wild rice. When it starts boiling, turn it down to a simmer. Cook about 30 minutes or until the water is absorbed.

Dice the onion and celery. Sauté them in a bit of olive oil until soft. Add the sliced mushrooms. Season with the spices. Add to the cooked wild rice. Stir thoroughly. Taste and adjust the spices as needed. (It tends to absorb the spices so you may need more). Place in a casserole dish or pan that has been sprayed. Mix with the butter (adding more as needed). Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

This can be made ahead and baked when your turkey is resting. Enjoy!

Recipes for a Cultural Experience—Holiday Dinners: Stuffed Rolled Turkey Breast

The Iron Range in Northern Minnesota where I’m from was a real melting pot of nationalities. There were many people with Italian, Scandinavian, Slavic as well as Eastern European and other backgrounds. Many came to work in the mines. Growing up, my father was a grocer and a butcher. We learned a lot from the employees and customers, and their various cultures. We carried many different ethnic foods in the store. Porchetta was a popular Italian recipe. He made Porchetta roasts for his customers but we never ate them as we didn’t eat pork back then. They did look good and my friends loved them so I was curious to try the Turkey version called Turchetta. The Turchetta recipe uses similar spices to a Porchetta roast. This is my version of the recipe. It is similar to the Turchetta recipes with a few changes. This was my first time making it so it was a learning experience. I did make a few changes to the traditional recipe. We are not fans of fennel so I left it out. Since I brought in two large rosemary plants before last week’s frost, I used a lot of rosemary. I also switched out chicken broth for the red wine as we were out. I forgot to buy the fresh garlic as well so I used minced garlic.

After making it, I would recommend using more Parmesan-closer to a cup. Adding cooked spinach instead of the prosciutto would be another option.

I recommend using turkey breast tenderloins or boneless turkey breast. I used a breast on the bone so it was a lot of work to remove it from the bone. (Clearly the butcher skills were not passed to me).

It’s a great alternative to a traditional turkey or turkey breast. It’s full of flavor, very pretty to serve. I served it with a couple of traditional side dishes—green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and cranberries. Since I’m going to my kids for Thanksgiving this year and they like to switch up recipes, I wanted a couple of traditional sides.


Turkey Breast-preferably boneless or deboned. 7-9 lbs boned

Prosciutto 4 oz (optional leave out and add cooked spinach)

Fresh Sage .05 ounce

6 -8 sprigs fresh rosemary

Minced garlic 3 tablespoons or 4-5 cloves of fresh garlic crushed

Salt 1 teaspoon (4 grinds)

Pepper 1/2 teaspoon (3 grinds)

1/2 – 1 cup shredded Parmesan

Twine for tying

16 ounces Chicken stock or 2 cups of red wine

1 tablespoon butter

Olive oil or olive oil spray

Crockpot Instructions:

If using a bone in turkey breast, use a kitchen shears to cut through the center backbone and front center bone. Take a sharp knife and cut the meat close to the bone to remove the meat, keeping the pieces as large you can. I removed the skin as well. (You could leave the skin on it if you choose to).

Lay pieces flat on a cutting board. Cover with wax paper and pound flat with a mallet. Remove wax paper and discard.

Season the breast with the seasonings. Lay the rosemary pieces (remove from the stem) on the spices, follow with the Parmesan. Lay the sage leaves on and then add the prosciutto. Carefully roll the breast tightly. Use the twine to hold it together, tying tightly.

Place the stock and butter into the crockpot. Add 2 whole sprigs with the stem of rosemary to the liquid. Carefully place the breast in the crockpot. Spray it with olive oil spray or sprinkle with olive oil.

Cook on high for 3 – 4 hours or low for 7 – 8 hours until the breast reads 165 on the meat thermometer.

Strain the gravy into a gravy strainer. Thicken the gravy on the stove if desired with a roux (cooked butter and flour) or arrowroot (my preference—Add a little water to the arrowroot and stir before adding). Broil the breast for a couple of minutes if it needs additional browning. Remove the twine before broiling or slicing. Let rest for a few minutes before slicing. Slice it like a pinwheel. Enjoy!

Oven instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Follow the instructions above. (You can brown it with a little oil or butter and some stock or wine on the stove first before putting it in the baking pan. )

Bake in a covered pan until the breast temp reads 165 degrees on the meat thermometer. Check it at 30 minutes. Keep checking frequently until it’s 165.

Broil if it needs additional browning. Remove the twine before slicing or broiling. Let rest for a few minutes before slicing. Slice it like a pinwheel. Enjoy!

Recipes for a Cultural Experience—Easy Dinners: Balsamic Glazed Chicken and Vegetables with Feta and Pomegranate Sheet Pan Dinner

Balsamic Glazed Chicken and Vegetables with Feta and Pomegranate Sheet Pan Dinner
Balsamic Glazed Chicken and Vegetables with Feta and Pomegranate Sheet Pan Dinner

Sheet Pan dinners are quick and easy. There are so many different combinations you can try. This is a combination of a couple of different recipes. It has Mediterranean flavors with the mellow feta cheese and balsamic glaze. The pomegranate seeds give it a sweet/tart tang. When the feta bakes, it mellows out the flavor. Choose the vegetables you prefer or have on hand.

If you prefer a vegetarian option-leave out the chicken, add a can of drained garbanzo or cannellini beans. You could also add Extra Firm Tofu chunks.


1 block of feta cheese (don’t use pre-crumbled)

1 – 2 onions chopped

1 bell pepper (red or yellow)

1 bunch fresh broccoli or broccolini

2 boneless chicken breast cut into chunks

1 pack of cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes (slice in half if large)

Kalamata Olives-12 olives or to taste

Pomegranate Seeds 2 ounces (additional for serving)

Balsamic Glaze

1/4 cup Chicken or vegetable stock (optional)

Extra Version Olive Oil

4 tablespoons garlic powder

2 tablespoons basil

2 tablespoons oregano

3 grinds of the salt grinder 1 teaspoons or so

4 grinds of pepper (2 teaspoons or so)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Spray a sheet pan with cooking spray.

Spread the vegetables evenly on the pan. Break up the feta into small chunks. Spread them around, nestle them into the vegetables. Add olives spreading them around. Place the chicken chunks on top of the vegetables. Sprinkle liberally with olive oil. Add the spices. Sprinkle the balsamic glaze on top. Add the pomegranate seeds all over. You can add the stock before the oil if you want a more gravy like consistency. I made it without the stock. Bake in a preheated 350 oven. Check every 20 minutes to make sure it doesn’t burn. Check the temperature of the chicken. It should be 165.

Vegetarian Options:

Leave out the chicken. Use vegetable stock if desired. (I didn’t use it). Add a cup of cooked garbanzo or cannellini beans. (Or a drained can). You could also add chunks of Extra Firm Tofu. Follow baking instructions, checking frequently for the vegetables to be tender.

Spread Vegetables, Nestle Feta
Add Chicken
Use Balsamic Glaze and Spices, top with Pomegranate Seeds

Serve with extra balsamic glaze and pomegranate seeds. A baked potato, soup or salad all can go well with it. Enjoy!

Balsamic Glazed Chicken and Vegetables with Feta and Pomegranate

Recipes for a Cultural Experience—Easy Dinners: Pulled Spicy BBQ Chicken Sandwich

Pulled Chicken Sandwich on a Biscuit
Pulled Chicken Sandwich on a Biscuit

Traveling through parts of the Southern East Coast, we encountered some interesting cuisines. One sandwich stood out for its simplicity and flavor. The pulled pork or chicken sandwich. It’s an interesting combination of bbq flavor and cool, crisp coleslaw. Tangy and crunchy.

My version is a slightly spicy version made with chicken breast. It’s an easy, filling sandwich. It has a spicy kick from the BBQ, Buffalo and Tabasco sauces and a cool kick from the coleslaw. Serve it on your favorite bun or biscuit. Some options to serve with it are a side salad, soup and/or fries.

You can cook the chicken separately in the instant pot or slow cooker or use leftover chicken. Rotisserie chicken would also work. This time, I used the chicken I had cooked in the Wild Rice Corn Chowder. I removed the chicken from the soup and let it cool. The next day I shredded the chicken using two forks. This can be done when it is hot if you wish to serve it that day. Add spices, bbq sauce, buffalo sauce and a dash of Tabasco. Cook it for a bit and then build your sandwich.

Shredded Chicken Ingredients:

2- 3 chicken boneless breasts cooked (instructions below)

4 tbs garlic powder

5 tbs Montreal seasoning

5 tbs Emeril’s seasoning

4 turns of the salt grinder (1-2 tsp)

3-4 turns of the pepper grinder (1-2 tsp)

1/3 cup bbq sauce (I use a no sugar sauce by Ray’s)

A couple of shakes (approx 3 tbs) Buffalo sauce (I use Franks)

A shake or two of Tabasco sauce

Coleslaw Ingredients:

Cabbage bagged mix with carrots. (14 ounce) (easiest)


Cabbage (14 ounces approximately)

2 large carrots peeled

1/2 cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip

2 tablespoons vinegar

1/2-1 tablespoons sugar (or Stevia)

1/2 teaspoons salt (3 turns of the grinder)

1 teaspoons pepper (4 turns of the grinder)

Add cabbage mix to a bowl or shred cabbage and carrots using a food processor or hand grater. Mix in the rest of ingredients. Adjust the mayonnaise and spices to taste.

You can also purchase premade deli coleslaw instead.

Cooking Instructions: Instant Pot

Add a cup of chicken stock

You can add all the spices above, I added them in the last step since mine were already cooked.

Set the pressure cook to 10 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally. Remove from the cooker. Shred with two forks, add sauces (seasonings if you didn’t add them) and mix. If you’re adding the seasoning and sauces at the end , you can place in the oven at 350 for 15 -20 minutes to cook through. Add extra bbq sauce when serving.

Instructions: Slow Cooker

Place all the ingredients in the crockpot. Add a cup of chicken stock, BBQ sauce and Buffalo sauce, dash of Tabasco if desired.

Cook on high for 4 hours, low for 8 hours. Take chicken out and shred. Add back to sauce and stir. Use a slotted spoon to serve if there is too much liquid. Add additional BBQ and Buffalo sauce on bun if desired.

Cooked Chicken Instructions:

Shred the chicken with two forks. Add spices and sauces. Mix thoroughly. Adjust the sauce amounts as needed. Cook for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. You can also microwave it for 5 minutes to cook the spices and sauces instead.

Sandwich Assembly:

Place shredded chicken on the bottom of the biscuit or bun. Add a bit more sauce if desired. Layer coleslaw on top. Place biscuit top on and take a big bite! Have lots of napkins. Enjoy!

Pulled Chicken Sandwich on a Biscuit

Recipes for a Cultural Experience—Soup Weather: Wild Rice, Corn Chowder

Wild Rice Corn Chowder

Growing up in Northern Minnesota, wild rice is a part of our culture. It is used in many soup, stew and casserole dishes.

“Wild rice (Zizania aquatica or Zizania palustris), called manoomin in the Ojibwe language, has been a staple food for Minnesota’s Indians for centuries. It was adopted as the official state grain in 1977. It is an aquatic grass not related to common rice. Early in the summer, the plants bloom with tiny maroon and gold flowers, and by late summer, their seeds mature into dark brown kernels. Domestic cultivation and combine harvesting of wild rice are relatively recent developments; wild rice is commercially produced as a field crop on about 20,000 acres in Minnesota. For many years, basically all of the wild rice produced in the world came from Minnesota, and most still does. Wild rice often is harvested from lakes in a traditional way, from canoes; people interested in harvesting wild rice in Minnesota must purchase a wild ricing license, similar to a fishing or hunting license. Wild rice grows naturally in the shallow waters of lakes in central and northern Minnesota”.(

Harvesting the authentic wild rice is a time consuming but rewarding experience. I’d love to see how it is done in person someday.

Wild rice can be purchased at most supermarkets or online. Use pure, authentic wild rice, not a rice and wild rice blend. In my parent’s house we always had a few pounds of rice in the pantry. My Mother didn’t make this soup but she made a wonderful wild rice casserole which we always had for the holidays and other occasions. I’ll post that later.

Wild Rice Corn Chowder is full of vegetables and has a nice blend of spices and rich cheesy flavor. It’s another warm hug for a cool fall day. It can be made with or without chicken. I’ll give both the chicken and vegetarian versions below. Both are equally good! Soup’s On!


2-32 ounce containers chicken or vegetable stock

1/2 cup Wild Rice

12 ounces frozen Corn

12 ounces frozen mixed vegetables

1 onion chopped

2 carrots chopped

6 tablespoons garlic powder or 2-3 cloves minced

4 tablespoons Montreal seasoning

◦ (I use this frequently, it contains -Coarse Salt, Spices Including Black Pepper and Red Pepper, Garlic, Onion, Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavor and Extractives of Paprika so substitute more of these if you don’t have it)

12 turns of salt grinder or 2-3 tsp salt (to taste)

Water to fill pot

2-3 boneless chicken breasts

◦ leave out for vegetarian version)

1-can Evaporated skim milk

◦ (you can use a cup of heavy cream or whole milk instead if desired)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Insta Pot Instructions:

Place all ingredients into the pot except the milk and cheese. Close the vent and use the Soup setting. (2:45). Allow it to come to pressure and release naturally. Before serving, warm the milk or cream in a saucepan and add the cheese to melt as it just comes to a boil. Add to soup. If you used the chicken, remove and shred it using two forks. Add chicken back to the soup or save it to use in another recipe.

Crockpot Instructions:

Place all ingredients into the pot except the milk and cheese. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. Before serving, warm the milk or cream in a saucepan and add the cheese to melt as it just comes to a boil. Add to soup. If you used the chicken, remove and shred it using two forks. Add chicken back to the soup or save it to use in another recipe.

Stovetop Instructions:

Use a large stockpot or Dutch Oven pot. Place all ingredients into the pot except the milk. Bring to a boil and then turn it to a low simmer. Simmer on the stovetop for 2 hours or so, checking to make sure the water level is still high. Before serving, warm the milk or cream in a saucepan and add the cheese to melt as it just comes to a boil. Add to soup. If you used the chicken, remove and shred it using two forks. Add chicken back to the soup or save it to use in another recipe.

As mentioned, you can use vegetable stock and leave out the chicken for a vegetarian version. Add additional vegetables and a couple of chopped potatoes for a thicker chowder. You can add a slurry by mixing a tablespoon of arrowroot powder (my preference) or cornstarch mixed with a little water to thicken it up when boiled. Enjoy!

Wild Rice Corn Chowder

Recipes for a Cultural Experience-Soup Weather: Vegetarian Vegetable, Barley, Lima Bean Soup

Vegetable, Barley, Lima Bean Soup

One of my Mother’s standard soups was a Beef Mushroom Barley soup. It’s a traditional Eastern European Jewish soup dating back many, many generations. My Mother used to make it with a soup bone and beef, loaded with mushrooms and carrots. On a cold Minnesota day it would be a warm hug!

My adaptation is vegetarian. In my opinion, the meat added very little to the soup. I’ve made it with only vegetables for years. It’s a hearty, filling soup, chock full of grains and vegetables. Serve it as a first course or make it a meal with a salad and crusty bread. The last version I made was without the mushrooms and baby carrots as I forgot to put them in. (A brainless day)! It came out just as delicious. Add whichever vegetables you prefer. Soup’s on!


16 oz Pearl Barley

10 oz Lima Beans or Baby Lima Beans

1 lb Mushrooms sliced

16 oz bag frozen Mixed Vegetables (thawed)

16 oz bag frozen Corn (thawed)

6 oz Baby Carrots sliced

1 Onion chopped

2-32 oz containers Vegetable Stock

Water to fill

6 tablespoons Garlic Powder

3-4 tablespoons salt (10 turns of the grinder)

6 tablespoons Montreal Seasoning

3 teaspoons Dried Minced Onion

Dash Pepper to taste (Montreal has pepper in it)

Crockpot Instructions:

Chop mushrooms, onion and carrots. Add all of the ingredients to the crockpot. Fill water to top. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. I usually do high.

Insta Pot Instructions:

Chop mushrooms, onion and carrots. Add all of the ingredients to the crockpot. Fill water to fill line. I use the Soup setting on the pot. (It’s usually 2:45). Let the steam valve release before opening the pot.

Stovetop Instructions

Use a large stockpot or Dutch Oven. Chop mushrooms, onion and carrots. Adjust the amount of Barley and Lima beans as well as the vegetables for the size of your pot. Add all of the ingredients to the crockpot. Fill water to a couple of inches below the top. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn down to lowest simmer and cook for 2 hours or so. Check frequently to stir and make sure the liquid is still in the pot. Add more water as needed.

The soup thickens up when it cools. Just add additional water when you heat it. Enjoy!

Vegetable, Barley, Lima Bean Soup

Traveling for a Cultural Experience

Mexican Flamingos

One of my favorite experiences I had was on a trip to Mexico’s Yucatán Coast a couple of years ago. It was in January so a great getaway from the cold east coast winter. We stayed in Cancun for most of the trip, enjoyed the beach and pools, but also did some day trips exploring. On one of the days we were driving to see Ek Balam-a Yucatán Mayan ruin that is lesser known than Chichen Itza. (Which we had also toured). My daughter wasn’t too interested in seeing another ruin so we were looking for something along the way. We spotted the flamingos on the sign for Rio Lagartos and looked it up. It was further and in a different direction than Ek Balam. We decided to take the drive and see what we could find.

Rio Lagartos is approximately 3 hours and 20 minutes from Cancun. We drove on the route that takes you from Cancun to Valladolid a charming town with a beautiful Cathedral and town square. Then it goes to Tizmin, also charming. Next we arrived in the coastal town of Rio Lagartos. As we left a little later in the day, it was late afternoon when we arrived. Immediately we were approached by a man asking if we wanted to get a tour of the flamingos. We negotiated a very reasonable price for a boat tour. He let us park at his house. I grabbed my camera and we went out on the motor boat. Just a quick ride off shore and we began to encounter groups of 20-30 flamingos. Each group would let us get quite close and then they would start to fly up. Some seemed to be walking on the water as they started to fly. It was an experience that I will never forget. Our guide took us by some marshes and small islands close to their nesting sites. The sun was starting to set so we returned to shore.

The guide told us that if we returned in May-June, it’s mating season so thousands of flamingos flock to the area. I hope to go back one day and experience this as well.

There is a biosphere park that gives tours as well. The Rio Lagartos Biosphere Reserve.

All photos are copyright @cjsthought (Connie Frisch-Cherniak)

Rio Lagartos @cjsthought
Tizmin @cjsthought
Valladolid @cjsthought
Valladolid @cjsthought

Recipes for a Cultural Experience—Soup Weather

As the weather turns colder, I love to make a pot of soup for the week. It can warm you and envelop you with flavors from various cultures. Great anytime of the day.

Black Bean Soup

This recipe is a combination of a Cuban Black Bean Soup and a Mexican Black Bean Soup. The flavors are crisp and intense with a slight citrus flare. It is a chunky soup full of vegetables. If you prefer a smoother consistency, you can use an immersion blender.

It can be made vegetarian by omitting the chorizo sausage or using a vegetarian version of the sausage. There are many good vegetarian chorizo sausages. (El Burrito Soyrizo, Upton’s Natural Chorizo or Field Roast Mexican Sausage are all good choices) I’ve made it both ways. Adding a little cumin and cilantro as well as lime juice can make it a more Mexican style. Make it with or without the vegetarian ground crumbles. (You could also substitute extra lean ground beef if desired).

You can add additional chopped onions, carrots, tomatoes and celery if desired. I often use frozen vegetables for convenience as well as fresh chopped vegetables. I usually use 1 container of broth and add additional water, but use all broth or all water-your preference. Add a little chopped jalapeños if you want to spice it up.

Another option: use less liquid and make it a stew to serve over egg noodles.

You can use a Slow Cooker or an Insta Pot as well as just simmer on the stovetop.


1 16 ounce package dry black beans

1 8 ounce can chopped tomatoes

1 can Rotel tomatoes

1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar

1 8 ounce package frozen corn

1 12 ounce package frozen mixed vegetables

2 Chorizo sausages (I use Aidells) sliced into cubes (you can use vegetarian sausage if you prefer)

1 package Boca or Morningstar ground crumbles

1 -2 32 ounce Vegetable or Chicken Broth

6 tbs Garlic Powder

4 tbs ground Basil

2 tbs Tajin spice

1-2 tbs salt to taste (I use a salt grinder so turn 10 turns)

A dash of Worcestershire

Water to fill to close to top of Insta Pot or Slow Cooker (check fill lines)

Insta Pot Instructions:

Add all ingredients. Use Soup setting. I add an extra 15 minutes to time. Make sure steam vent is set. (Approximately 2:45 cook time).

Slow Cooker Instructions:

Add all of the ingredients. Cook on High for 5 hours. Check for bean softness at 4 hours.

Can serve with a dollop of sour cream, chopped onions, slice of lime if desired. Add some extra water or broth when reheating if it’s too thick. Enjoy!

Noodle Kugel (Luchen Kugel)

Noodle Kugel (Luchen Kugel) is one of the standard traditional recipes in Jewish cooking. It is typically served on holidays or for the Sabbath. It is a dairy recipe so if you keep Kosher, you would have it on a milchik (dairy) night.

I make it with just the dairy ingredients. Some people prefer it to be sweet so they add some sugar, raisins or pineapple to it. My Mother made it plain, usually, but occasionally made the sweet version as my Father liked it sweet as well. My preference is the plain version with some added sour cream on top. I use low-fat cottage cheese and sour cream. I’ve also made it with fat-free versions, which come out as well. Your choice.


1 package egg noodles (8-12 ounces usually)

1 container cottage cheese (16 ounces)

1/2 container sour cream (6-8 ounces)

2 eggs beaten

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper (I use a salt and pepper grinder so a few turns of each-to taste)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spray or grease an 8×8 baking pan (for a thicker kugel, or a 13 x 9 for a thinner kugel).

Boil the noodles as directed. Drain, put back into the pot. Add the cottage cheese and sour cream. Stir (my kids always loved small bowls of the mixture before I added the eggs), add the eggs, salt and pepper-mix well.

Pour into baking pan and bake uncovered for approximately 90 minutes or so—until top is browned and crispy. Slice into squares and serve with sour cream on top if desired. Enjoy


Recipes for a Cultural Experience

Jewish Holiday Recipes

Growing up in a small town in Northern Minnesota, maintaining a Jewish heritage was a challenge. Food was always the connection that brought us together. My Father had two brothers and all the families as well as my Grandmother were always together for the major holidays. My Mother, Lorraine was the main cook. She made the brisket, matzoh ball soup, tzimmes and kugel. My Aunt Ruth made great Jello mold salads and deserts. My Aunt Myrtle made wonderful cookie bars. My Grandmother made incredibly delicate cheese or potato knishes. All the cousins sat together at the kids table no matter what their ages. I was the youngest, by many years; so it was often the only times we got to spend time together. Wonderful memories.

Beef Brisket

Preheat Oven to 350 Degrees

4-5 lb Brisket trimmed

1 cup Ketchup

2 tbls Mustard

1/2 cup Brown Sugar

3-4 potatoes cut into small chunks

3 carrots peeled and cut into chunks

1 onion diced

Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder or fresh garlic (to taste)

Recipe: Place brisket into large baking pan. Most people place it fat side up, I trim and reverse it as I prefer it without the added fat. Season the meat with salt, pepper and garlic. I use less salt, but season to your preference.

Mix the ketchup, mustard and brown sugar together in a bowl. Pour over the top of the brisket. Add potatoes, carrots and onions to the pan around the brisket. Add about a cup of water to make it about half way up the brisket.

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Cover tightly and roast for 3-4 hours until the meat is tender. Let rest and thinly slice against grain. Layer vegetables next to meat. Gravy can be strained in a gravy separator. Works great to make it the day before, remove fat layer and heat up. The meat will shrink substantially so plan accordingly. Enjoy!

Beef Brisket


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