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Sunday, 27 November 2016

DONALD, my BROTHER, July 21, 1936 - November 27, 2015

Our parents were pioneers, and Donald was born on the homestead in Pleasant Valley.  From a young age, he was expected to help out on the farm.  When Dad decided to move to Foxwarren, Donald and George rode horseback and herded the cattle all the way, about 80 to 90 miles.  Donald was 13 and George 14 at that time.  

Donald had to quit after elementary school because he was needed on the farm.  Then, he went to work on the oil rigs and sent money home to help pay off the farm.  He also brought Mom a matching garnet necklace and bracelet.  Next, he worked to help pay for farms for Matt and George. 

Then, it was Donald’s turn and his brothers helped him.  With his wife, Karen, Donald built up a tidy, successful farm and raised two children, Tracey and David.

Donald was ten years older than me so, over the years, I got to see how understanding he was.  

When I was in grade nine and wanted to go to the school dance, Mom and Dad said no.  Donald said, “She’s going.”  He drove me there and waited somewhere in town for 3 hours to take me home.

More recently, when a kid shot up a rain barrel, someone else said, “We’re taking your gun away.”  But Donald knew that kids just get carried away sometimes.    “No, we’re not,” he said.  “But you – you’re never doing that again.”  A few words and a look -- he was firm, and that was enough.

Donald’s interests ranged far beyond the farm.  He loved to read NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC and CANADIAN GEOGRAPHIC magazines.

Family was so important to Donald.  He enjoyed a good long visit and storytelling and, out of the cupboard, where he kept it for special occasions, would come a bottle.
Donald always had an innate impishness.  Over a drink last spring, he reminisced about years past “when the police were more likely to give a guy a warning and let him off”.

“Me and the boys were  in a restaurant and the owner came over to ask us to stop making so much noise so I said, ‘Maybe you should make some noise too’.  I picked him up the collar and the seat of his pants and threw him out the door.”

“Just having a bit of fun,” said Donald.


He was a man, take him for all in all,
I shall not look upon his like again.
                   William Shakespeare


Donald was not religious.  At his insistence, there was no funeral or memorial.  


Donald did a lot of cooking including cabbage rolls, pickles, and borsch.

In  Donald's memory, I decided to make a borsch that has its roots in the area of Lviv, Ukraine because that's where our grandparents came from.

My Ukrainian cookbooks ask for the beets to be cooked separately and then added to the stock.  I've tried it that way but can't see the point.  Instead, I have cooked the beets in the stock the way my mother used to do.


1.5 to 2 lbs beef roast
10 peppercorns
Soup greens – such as celery with leaves, parsley, carrots, onion
2 teaspoons salt
12 to 14 cups water

1 onion: 8 ounces
Beets:  1 pound to 1.25 lbs
2 carrots:  8 ounces total
Potatoes: 8 ounces
4 to 6 tbsp finely chopped parsley stems (more flavor than in leaves)
10 cups beef stock
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp sugar
1 bay leaf
4 tbsp vinegar

Sour cream

FIRST PREPARE BEEF STOCK  (This could be done a day ahead.)
·        Put beef and water in large pot.  Water should be about 2 inches above the beef.
·        Bring to a boil and skim well.
·        Add salt. 
·        Reduce heat a bit but keep at a rolling boil for one hour.
·        Add soup greens and keep boiling for 45 more minutes.
·        Remove beef and set it aside to cool in fridge. (Use some of this in the borsch; the rest is great in sandwiches!) 
·        Strain the broth.  Discard vegetables.
(If cooking a day ahead, refrigerate the broth and discard the fat that solidifies at the top.)

·        Peel beets.  Cut into matchsticks.  Set aside.
·        Finely chop onion.  Add to beets.
·        Peel carrots.  Cut into matchsticks.  Add to beets.
·        Finely chop parsley stems.  (In Ukraine, parsley roots are used, but I can’t find any in shops here.)
·        Put beef stock into a large pot and add sugar, bay leaf, and tomato paste.  Bring to a boil.
·        Taste for salt. (I added ½ tsp at this point.)
·        Add all the vegetables to the boiling stock.  Lower heat a little but keep at a rolling boil for 20 minutes.
·        Meanwhile, peel potatoes and cut into dice.   Add to the cooking soup.
·        Add 4 tbsp vinegar.  Also, at this point you can add 1/2 pound of cubes of the beef that was cooked to make the stock.  Keep boiling for another 15 minutes.
·        Serve with dollops of sour cream and a garnish of parsley leaves.


For earlier posts about Donald, see: