Moving Forward

January  1, 2013

Sunday Dinners comes to us from our own chef/photojournalist/farmer/father figure Tom Hirschfeld, featuring his stunning photography and Indiana farmhouse family meals.

It's Resolution Week at Food52, and we're looking ahead to how we want to run our kitchens, 2013-style.

Today: Tom's New Year's Resolution? Only add, don't take away.

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It is shortly after all the present opening hullabaloo, when I look up from cutting peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in half, that I see the look on Vivian’s face. I catch a glimpse of disappointment in her eyes and it is very clearly the look of self pity caused by not getting everything she wants for Christmas.

I know exactly how she feels. I remember the first time I felt the same way. I also remember the shame I felt for being selfish and while I know which feeling is right at her young age, I am still not sure which feeling is worse.

Oddly, I guess with age I have come to have similar emotions about New Year's.

For instance, each year when I take stock of myself in the time between Christmas and January 1st, I am always looking back in disappointment at the things I wanted to happen but didn't, the things that went wrong, or the things that I will have to deny myself to make the coming year presumably better. It seems silly.

After all, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to point out to me that I am a very blessed person, and really, I want for nothing. Well, I suppose I could stand to lose a few pounds, and proudly I have lost a lot this year, but a few more wouldn't hurt. Even so, I don’t really need to deny myself. I just need to eat differently.

It is no different than earlier this year when I found out I am gluten-intolerant. Sure I could fret for hours over never eating wheat again. Or I could continue eating gluten and continue to feel like absolute shit, get migraines, and muscle and joint pain so bad I can't get out of bed.

Then there is the other option: I could realize there is a whole new world of food experiences awaiting me and because of them I can feel better than I have in years. In other words, a subtle shift in my diet has opened up a new path of amazing and positive experiences.

So I think to myself, why not add only positive things to my life this year? Like what I am going to call New Food Tuesday, where our family makes a dinner with foods we have never tried, presumably something from a different culture so when we are sitting at the table we can have conversations about different countries and how not everyone in this world is exactly the same. How these differences aren’t something to be afraid of, but should be embraced.

I am a superstitious sort. If you were here for the New Year you would find me outside knee-deep in the snow just before midnight holding my empty wallet to the moon. Once the midnight clock speaks its piece I will head inside and eat. In the past it has always been something about prosperity, Hoppin’ John or something like it, but this year it will be something revitalizing, something that purifies, something from a distant land.

So this morning Vivian, Lynn, and I are planning. We go to the globe and I spin it and Vivian sticks her finger on Finland. I know what I want to make, Karelian Borscht. We will be ringing in the New Year on a New Food Tuesday after all.

Karelian Borscht

Serves 6 to 8

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup beets, peeled and grated
4 cups chopped red or green cabbage
2/3 cups carrots, medium dice
1/2 cup fennel bulb, small dice
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
8 cups broth, beef or vegetable
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 pound sausage, your choice, Italian and Wiesswurst are nice choices
Lemon slices and sour cream for garnish

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Tom Hirschfeld

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Buffy Kinstle
    Buffy Kinstle
  • AntoniaJames
  • pierino
  • healthierkitchen
  • Kitchen Butterfly
    Kitchen Butterfly
Father, husband, writer, photojournalist and not always in that order.


Buffy K. January 2, 2013
Thanks for the insightful/thoughtful post, and recipe. I have been craving borscht, so I will try it out later this week. I love the idea of sharing food from around the world with our children. I am curious if you are celiac or gluten intollerant? if you not Celiac, but only gluten intollerant or gluten sensitive, then I'd like to send you some samples of organic Italian einkorn wheat products to try (they do contain gluten but in a different form, which many who are GI or GS find easier to digest). If you are interested, please message me directly at berkeleybuff at yahoo dot com and I'll be happy to send you some of our einkorn flour, einkorn wheat berries and einkorn whole grain pasta (it not only tastes better than most GF products, but it's a lot healthier for you as well).

thirschfeld January 2, 2013
I hope you get a chance to try it!
AntoniaJames January 2, 2013
Mr. H, you are always such an inspiration, and today, particularly so. Thank you for this handsome piece of genuinely interesting food writing, for all the words of wisdom you have shared, and, of course, for another appealing recipe (which I most certainly will be trying within the week). All my best to you and your beautiful family in the coming year. ;o)
thirschfeld January 2, 2013
Thanks Antonia, and thank you for your inspiration in the kitchen. I hope your boys got to spend a little time at home for the holidays! Happy New Years to you too.
AntoniaJames January 2, 2013
Thanks so much. My sons are indeed home. Both are feeding themselves while away at school, so they're highly motivated to improve their meal planning and kitchen skills. We're spending a lot of time together in the kitchen while they're home. I'm loving every minute of it! ;o)
pierino January 2, 2013
Fantastic borscht recipe Tom. Thank you. I'm very sorry to learn that you are genuinely celiac, meanwhile so many others are going wheat free as a fad. As we get older we all have to deal with unexpected health complaints. I'm wishing you the best for the New Year and I will always look forward to your terrific Food52 contributions.
thirschfeld January 2, 2013
thanks pierino. Well I would have never believed it till I changed my diet. OMG, did it ever change many, many things and all for the better. It was such a big sigh of relief to actually feel good. Happy New Year to you too my friend!
healthierkitchen January 1, 2013
Tom - what a lovely and thoughtful piece. We could all use this reminder, and not just at this time of year. Please let us know how your adventurous eaters liked the dish!
thirschfeld January 2, 2013
Thank you healthierkitchen. My daughters will fork each other for the last roasted beet on the platter so fortunately for me when I tell them something has beets in it they have no problem eating it up.
Kitchen B. January 1, 2013
Dear Tom - Happy New Year. You continue to inspire me, with your writing, most of all. I love you family traditions, that's the stuff childhood and adulthood memories are made of! Have a great one.
thirschfeld January 2, 2013
Hoping you have a great New Yeat too KB and thank you.
darksideofthespoon January 1, 2013
I am tempted to make this right now, I already have left over roasted beets and italian sausage in the fridge....
thirschfeld January 2, 2013
seems like a great idea to me!
Burnt O. January 1, 2013
What a lovely idea! This looks amazing. When I was little, my Dad would put a piece of paper on our Sunday breakfast plate with numbers on them. Minutes and degrees, latitude and longitude. We all ran to the globe trying to figure out the secret destination for the week and would talk about it at brunch. I loved that.
thirschfeld January 2, 2013
I like that idea with the notes, a lot!
Kitchen B. January 2, 2013
Thank you for sharing that great memory, we have a huge map framed and my kids have done some co-ordinate studies at school so....perfect. Thank you and have a wonderful new year!