Cheap Like Borscht

The food I grew up eating wasn’t expensive. But I didn’t know that. All I knew was that it tasted delicious. Both sets of my grandparents had beautiful gardens where they lived, whether it was out on the farm in Kakabeka or in the heart of Westfort. Vegetables were plentiful, like cucumbers, potatoes, zucchini, beans, tomatoes, carrots (which tasted best pulled right from the ground with nothing more than a quick wash from the tap), and beets.

One of my Grandma Rose’s many sayings was, “cheap like borscht,” which could refer to anything from bruised market peaches to the slacks on the sale rack at Sears. As a kid I didn’t care much for borscht, though. What the heck are those green floating feathers? Why is everything pink? Now I can’t get enough of the stuff. And I wish that she was still around so that I could share a bowl with her.

My mom embraced the food of my dad’s heritage, the “cheap like borscht” things like pedaheh, cabbage rolls, and dumplings, as well as the tradition of picking and freezing and canning the fruits and vegetables that grew where we did. She also shared with us the foods of her homeland: hearty lentil stews, polenta with tomato sauce, and a simple noodle and garbanzo soup that I crave whenever I’m fighting a cold.

Food trends come and go but the older I get, all I really want is food that is basic and good. Besides, food doesn’t just nourish us, it connects us to one another, too—something that is especially important at a time when there is so much happening in the world that threatens to divide. So bearing all of that in mind, we’ve sourced 14 dishes for ten bucks or under (cheap and cheerful!) to provide us with some comfort as we soldier on into September together.

September also means harvest. Sommelier Jeannie Dubois gives us four ways to boost our daily servings of vegetables and still have a cocktail at the same time, because why not? Chef Rachel Globensky has a recipe for a salad using jicama (jica-who? Exactly). And Erin Beagle provides some food for thought in The Wall.

As usual, this issue is bursting at the seams with good things. Justin Allec chats with the legendary Steve Earle, who is making a stop in the city later this month, Tiffany Jarva spends some time with the Lily Paddlers, and it’s homecoming weekend for Confederation College and Lakehead University. Flip to the art section if you want to see some vibrant work by Jenelle Thacker and Lucille Atlookan, and skip over to Off the Wall for a review of a new novel set in Thunder Bay.

We hope, as always, that you enjoy this issue of the magazine as much as we enjoyed putting it together for you. A special thanks to The Walleye team, the unsung heroes behind the scenes who make the magazine what it is, for their extra help this month as I snuck back into the editor’s chair so Adrian could take a well-deserved vacation.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to make some borscht. With extra dill.

Rebekah Skochinski