Borsch How-to Video

Posted by Arlo on May 4, 2009 under Videos

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After an 8-hour work day, I have little energy left over for creative endeavors.  Awhile back, when I first renegotiated a 10-month contract with the university, I had all sorts of ideas for the two months I’d have off.  Whenever I wasn’t traveling, I wanted to be working on some sort of creative project.

In December of 2007, I watched a short, clever cooking video online.  I thought that I might want to create something like that during my upcoming time off.  I approached Oksana about making a “how to” cooking video centered around her borsch recipe.  She liked the idea; we went shopping for the ingredients.

We learned very quickly that cooking videos are not easy to make.  The cooking process itself doesn’t lend itself to multiple takes, pesky steam keeps fogging your lens, and cooking food doesn’t take time out for you to switch to a different angle.  We had grand plans for an explanatory voiceover, but gave it up when we realized it would add hours to the process.  Oksana cooked, I shot, we tried not to argue.  That was the best we could do.

Fast forward a month and I’ve got all the video on my hard drive.  I’m starting in on editing and realizing that making a cooking video engaging isn’t easy, either.  I played around with it for awhile, but bogged down on the timing.  I wanted to make a short video (who’s going to watch a ½ hour recipe on Youtube?) set to some sort of music.  Ozma did a great cover of the suitably Russian Korobeiniki, but their version was even shorter than I needed.  After individually adjusting the speed of maybe a sixth of the clips I wanted to use, I gave up.  Too tedious.

Still, it was a project I always hoped to return to and I passed it from backup hard drive to backup hard drive for two years.  Last week, I dug it up and went back to speed-adjusting clips.  As I was nearing the end of the first rough edit, I decided on a subtitle style.  One sixth of the way through those, I reflected on my penchant for tedium.

I stuck with it, though, and finished the video up this week.  I played the rough cut for Oksana and she approves.  I think there’s enough visual information in the video that an enterprising and ambitious cook could recreate her family’s recipe, but if not, I’m including the actual recipe after the jump.

If you make a batch, let us know how it turns out.  (Also, pro tip from Oksana: It’s actually better after sitting in the fridge overnight!)



½ gallon of water
2 soup bones
1lb beef (cubed)
4 large potatoes (cubed)
1 large (or 2 medium) red beets (julienned or diced)
3 tomatoes (diced)
2 carrots (julienned or diced)
1 yellow onion (diced)
1 head of green cabbage (shredded/chopped)
1 tablespoon of salt
A pinch of black pepper
1 tablespoon of Vegeta
3 bay leaves
Non-stick cooking spray
Sour Cream

Cooking Instructions:

Wash the soup bone and chop 1lb of beef into a bite-size pieces.
Place the soup bone and chopped beef in a large cooking pot.
Add ½ gallon of cold water to cooking pot
(tip: if you like more broth in your borsch, add more water.)
Place the cooking pot on the stove and turn the heat on high.
While the broth is heating up, peel & cut up potatoes, carrots, beets, tomatoes, and onion.
(tip: wear gloves to avoid staining hands and nails with beet juice.)
Be prepared to collect the foam from the surface just before the water comes to boil
(tip: if you leave the lid off, then it is easier to keep an eye on the foam-forming process).
Reduce heat to medium-high, stir occasionally, and leave the broth boiling.
Coat sauté pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Sauté onions and carrots on medium-high heat until onions are golden brown.
Individually add beets, potatoes, tomatoes, and sauté to broth, stirring well.
Season to taste with Vegeta, salt and pepper.
Add shredded cabbage to pot.
Increase heat until water comes back to a boil.
Add 3 bay leaves
As soon as broth begins boiling again, turn off heat and let sit for 15-20 minutes.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a pinch of chopped parsley!