September 6, 2013

Welcome! In case you weren’t around earlier in the day, I’m Helen (aka H.B. Pattskyn) and my third novel, Hanging by the Moment was released today.

I just stepped outside to put some food on the grill for an early dinner/late lunch and that got me thinking about food.

Food plays an important role in Hanging by the Moment, and a lot of the tension revolves around the failing family diner. The problem isn’t that Pasha’s father, Ivan, is a bad cook, it’s that he’s completely lost his passion and sense of purpose. It’s hard to be passionate when you watch the businesses around you going under one by one–which is kind of what’s happened to the northern part of Main Street, just past downtown Royal Oak proper. Metro Detroit was hit pretty hard in the economic downturn of the last few years. Things are getting better, of course, but it’s a long slow recovery.

What Pasha realizes is that in order to compete with the dozens of other restaurants in Royal Oak is that their place needs something special. Royal Oak has several Greek/Coney island type diners (just like the one Pasha and his father run), but one thing we really don’t have much of around here is good Russian cuisine–and it doesn’t get much more traditional than borscht.

There are several verities of borscht, but lamb based is definitely the best–and all to the better if you make your own stock. Which of course means a lamb bone, which means a lamb leg and that can get expensive. So beef stock will do in a pinch.

See, the real secret to good cooking is being able to work with what you’ve got. There’s the ideal (what’s on grandma’s index cards) and then there’s reality. :) And in reality, I may be about fifty percent Russian, but I really don’t cabbage. So my borscht recipe looks like this:

2 lbs lamb (any cut, but bone in, preferred)—cubed. Set the bones aside
2 quarts of stock (you can use beef stock)
6 large beats—peeled and cubed or shredded
2 large carrots—sliced
2 stalks of celery—sliced
2 onions—chopped
6 cloves of garlic minced
1 can of tomato paste
1 lemon
2 springs each of thyme and rosemary (or a half teaspoon of each, dried)
A handful of fresh parsley—chopped
2 bay leaves
Olive oil for sautéing

In a very large pot, slowly sauté the onions and garlic until onions are translucent, then add the meat and let it brown. Pour in the stock and lower the heat; add everything else and let the pot simmer on very low heat for the next couple of hours. (It’s ready to eat as soon as the veggies are soft, but really, the longer it cooks the better!) Pull out the springs of herbs and bay leaves before serving. And of course it can be garnished with sour cream if you like!

So…what’s your favorite type of cuisine?

Mine is Mexican (although my favorite desert it Italian, tiramisu).

Pasha and Daniel both share a love of sushi, by the way.

Remember: Dreamspinner has issued a special coupon code: use it to get 25% off my books PLUS all Coming of Age books ( To use the coupon code, just go shopping as usual and type pattskyn0906 into the promo/coupon code box at checkout. The code is good for 48 hours, starting Friday; remember, DSP operates on Eastern Standard time.

Everyone who comments on any post throughout the day will be entered to win my big Blog Tour prize: a signed copy of Hanging by the Moment and a bag o’ swag.

9 Responses to “Food!”

  1. Sara says:

    I’m also half Russian-ish but I don’t care for beets… This borscht sounds so yummy though that I may risk it! Looking forward to reading this novel, I’ll throw my name in the hat to see if I get lucky again… Sara(dot)Bowerman(at)gmail(dot)com

  2. Sara says:

    Oh, and Mexican and Thai food are my favorites!

  3. Marie says:

    Thanks for sharing the recipe with us! Congratulations on your new release!

  4. Theo says:

    My favorite food probably is Italian. But I think I eat whatever as long as it’s not too spicy or bitter :) thanks for the recipe, I’d like to try if I can find substitute for beets (I live in South East Asia, I don’t think we grow beets here). Any ideas?

  5. Susan says:

    I’m half Czech and I love that cuisine! Almost impossible to find in restaurants except in Czecn enclaves.

  6. Trix says:

    My default is usually Mexican or Japanese, but I love most kinds of food. I didn’t realize borscht has lamb in it–that’s a plus for this half-Croat!

  7. hbpattskyn says:

    Most borscht recipes call for beef; lamb just adds an extra layer of richness (or maybe I just love lamb!)

    Thanks for stopping back by!


  8. MaryMary says:

    Mexican & Thai & Indian are my favorites – yum!

  9. Emily W. says:

    Thanks for the recipe, I’ll have to try it. As for my fave? I’m going to have to go with Japanese.

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