I have been sitting on such a huge secret and I’ve just gotten the okay to share it…a cookbook is on the way! A real-life, printed, hold-in-your-hands cookbook that can sit in your kitchen and get dog-eared corners and covered in food stains for years to come! Hoorah! Whew, feels good to get that off my shoulders. It’s pretty difficult to have hidden my excitement for this long and have so many of you asking what it is I’ve been up to if I’m not working in restaurants or running courses. Well, there’s your answer. Ever since I signed on to do this project back in the spring, it’s been full-steam ahead, growing food, writing recipes, testing them, photographing, and of course, eating a lot of really yummy things. I am so in love with each and every one of my creations so far and cannot wait to see them all bound up.

To try and answer some of the questions to come…the book is going to be seasonally-focused and totally plant-based of course, with some optional animal products thrown in for function or flavour when necessary. It is almost entirely all-new recipes (!!!) with a few favorites from the blog because how could I omit a version of the Life Changing Loaf of Bread? I mean, really. I am also making the recipes gluten-free whenever possible, without the use of complicated combinations of special flours and gums. The recipes use relatively simple and seasonal base ingredients with some special touches thrown in for nutrition, taste, and aesthetics of course. There will be nutritional information in many of the recipes, like I have here on the blog – if the recipe features carrots, I’ll probably talk about beta-carotene. You get the idea. I’ve also tried to keep the equipment requirements relatively low so that everyone can make the recipes. There are a few exceptions, but most of the dishes require little more than a typically outfitted kitchen.

And the question on everybody’s mind: when can we buy the book?! We’re aiming for spring 2015 release and please stay tuned here on the blog for updates. There are no preorders at this time, so don’t go looking for it just yet – I promise to keep you all in the loop! I am just as excited as you are. No wait, more excited.

This recipe was one I made the other day after pulling up the last of my beets from the garden. I was going to put it in the book, but decided to share it with you all instead. It’s a very delicious borscht recipe that I’ve gussied up with juniper berries, caraway seeds and Dijon mustard. Heavenly! I also added lentils for extra protein and satisfaction. This is just the kind of meal that makes this mama-to-be very happy.

I remember the first time I ate borscht (and beets for that matter), I was about 12 years old and on another food adventure with my best friend’s mother, Annie, whom I spoke about in this post about sushi. We went to the Future Bakery, a Toronto institution that serves Eastern European fare in a no-fuss kind of way. Annie ordered borscht for me, with a side of toasted sourdough bread. I took one look at the soup and my stomach flipped. How could I possibly eat anything magenta?! This slurry was the exact hue of my Barbie doll’s prom dress. I hesitantly took a spoonful, and although I thought it tasted pretty good, the colour threw me off to the point where I wasn’t able to eat it at all.

I can’t recall when beets came back into my life, but surely it was in a form other borscht. Admittedly, they took some getting used to, as I had grown up on a pretty beige diet. Pink was reserved for candy. After some courageous attempts, I realized just how yummy beets are: rich, earthy, deep. And because they can be juiced, and eaten either cooked or raw, there is a whole world of possibilities to explore within this one little root. Just by slicing a beet in a different manner, you discover an entirely new characteristic. Gosh, they really get me going! And now borscht happens to be one of my favourite ways to enjoy them.

My version of borscht is fragrant and full of autumnal goodness. I chose to use juniper berries, a fairly new ingredient to me, to add another dimension of flavour. I really like the piney-ness that they impart – kind of like taking your taste buds on a walk through a coniferous forest after a heavy rain. They are a classic Scandinavian ingredient, so if you can’t find them whenever you live, just omit them. And I will say that although they add delicious flavour to this soup, I didn’t enjoy eating them whole, so I (politely) spat them out (also because pregnant women really aren’t supposed to eat too many of them!).

Beet & Black Lentil Borscht
Serves 6-8

knob ghee
3 leeks
4 cloves garlic
pinch salt
4 bay leaves
4 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 Tbsp. dried, plus more for garnish if desired
4 medium / 1 ½ lbs. beets
3 medium carrots
2 cups shredded cabbage of your choice
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. dried juniper berries (about 12)
1 tsp. caraway seeds
8-10 cups / 2+ liters vegetable broth
1 cup dried black lentils (Du Put lentils would also work)
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
cracked black pepper to taste
olive oil for garnish

1. If possible, soak lentils overnight or for up to 8 hours in pure water. Drain and rinse well.
2. Prepare all vegetables. Wash and slice the leeks into rounds. Mince garlic. Peel beets and grate using a food processor or julienne by hand (the beets break down too much when grated by hand). Slice unpeeled carrots into rounds. Shred cabbage.
3. In a large stockpot over medium heat, melt a knob of coconut oil or ghee. Add leeks and salt and cook until tender, about five minutes. Add garlic, cook 2 minutes until fragrant. Add bay leaves, thyme, juniper berries, caraway, tomato paste, and mustard, stirring to coat the leeks and garlic. Add remaining ingredients: beets, carrots, vegetable broth (start with 8 cups and add as needd), and lentils (reserve cabbage). Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook until the lentils are tender, about 15-20 minutes. Add cabbage and vinegar, stir, and let cook for another 5 minutes.
4. Ladle soup into bowls, garnish with fresh thyme and plenty of cracked black pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and serve. Enjoy.

I realized something today: this could very well be the last post I write before becoming a mother, and if that is the case, I just want to send out big love to all of you for your support over the past few months. Whether it’s been sending me a caring comment after my cake-tastrophe confession, or joining me in the park for potluck picnicking, I really feel grateful to all of you! Please know that I’ll still be blogging from now on, just a tad lighter perhaps. You can still follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and I just set up a Pinterest account after many requests. Please be patient with me, as I am pretty slow on the uptake with this computer stuff (remember how long it took me to get on Facebook? Sheesh).

And now it’s back to the kitchen for me – I have a cookbook to write!

Be well and make food for each other.
With a (very) full belly,

Sarah B. + sprout

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