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I am a Russian studies minor, and a former officer of my college’s Russian club. As such, I have had considerable exposure to Russian cooking, including borscht, which is usually made with a meat broth. Since the only must-have ingredient in borscht is beets, it is incredibly easy to make vegan. Tonight I made it with organic local beets, onion, several cloves of organic garlic, two carrots, horseradish, broth, and paprika (which is a bit of a Hungarian touch, I think it’s not a traditional borscht ingredient). I also roasted some potatoes and turnips, which I ate as a topping on the soup.

Naked beets waiting to be diced up. I peel my beets before I cook them, I find it less messy and painful than trying to skin cooked beets. They ooze less when they’re raw.


My jar of horseradish and beet juice. I blame my Russian professor for my addiction to this stuff.


Beets, carrots, garlic, onion, and horseradish simmering away in broth.

Potatoes and turnips roasted in olive oil with kosher salt and crushed pepper. They may not look like much, but these are amazing. The exterior gets very crisp while the inside is so soft and tender that it practically melts when bitten into. I think this is due to high heat–I roast potatoes at 475 for half an hour.

Plated and ready to eat. I pureed the borscht and let it cool to room temperature, then topped it with the roasted potatoes and turnips.

I live one block from the Saturday farmer’s market. There are weekends (plenty of them) when I sleep until two in the afternoon and miss the whole thing completely, which is shameful. But this morning I was wide awake and I went down to take my pick of fresh, local fruits and veggies. I brought my camera (I even went back to my apartment to get it) and then discovered while standing in front of a stall full of adorable, bright flying saucer squash that I had LEFT MY MEMORY CARD IN MY LAPTOP. I was peevish, but oh well. I’ll be back next weekend, and until then there are pictures of this week’s haul.

All this for $23, all of it grown locally on small farms and co-ops. Clockwise from the lemonade: 
-fresh squeezed lemonade (no, really, they juice the lemons right there at the stall)
-heirloom “black” cherry tomatoes
-organic butternut squash
-red potatoes
-cucumber
-organic Japanese turnips with their greens attached
-organic portobello mushrooms (the most expensive item by weight at $8/lb, but it takes quite a few mushrooms to make a pound, so it’s not so bad)
-organic beets (for my borscht later this week, I’m excited!)
-green onions
-jumbo head of organic garlic
-red onion

The squash and the turnips came from Rita’s Roots, a “transitioning-to-organic” farm on nearby Wadmalaw Island. In addition to their stand at the Farmer’s Market, they also run spring and fall CSA programs. On the weekends when I do make it to the Market, I make a beeline for Rita’s (even before I get the OMFG delicious jumbo cup of lemonade). It’s always kind of a surprise–they seem to be pretty strictly seasonal, so I can’t necessarily count on seeing the same thing two weeks in a row, but there’s generally a selection of greens and root vegetables, although this week was very heavy on the squash. Rita Bachmann runs the stand and is always polite, helpful, and smiling.

There’s a raw vegan restaurant and juice bar in Charleston called The Sprout. It’s been around for a good two years, but this year they have a stand at the Farmer’s Market, serving up raw vegan lunches on the go. I didn’t get anything this week, but it was heartening to see them there (seriously, this is South Carolina we’re talking about) and I’ll probably be back for a smoothie or a sandwich next weekend. The menu board this week advertised mock tuna salad, cashew cheese, sunflower seed “burgers,” and raw pad thai in addition to six or eight different varieties of smoothies.

I am NOT usually up this early on a Saturday (it’s noon), but I feel surprisingly refreshed and ready to tackle my bread machine this afternoon.

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