I Love Beets

My husband doesn't like beets. He doesn't like them to the point that he has to tell me he doesn't like them each time I bring them into the house. And then he tells me every day they are in the house that he doesn't like them. He disassembles dinner asking, "are there beets in here?"

I love beets.

I loved beets when the only kind I knew came from a can. I don't even know how old I was when I first saw a real beet. I was older still when I first cooked one. All the scrubbing and peeling to cook them has quite frankly made beets in a can seem like not a bad idea. I know they taste better fresh but they've been such a stubborn root to prepare. Until now.

I've learned to simply cook the whole beet in a pot of boiling water. I know, where have I been? It feels like I'm getting away with something it's so easy. With a little coaxing the peels slide off leaving the pure beet jewel. I happily stop right there and eat it. Maybe a dash of salt but it's not required.

Then I saw that Doughgirl was canning beets and I wanted to can pickled beets too. So I did.

And I served them for dinner last night making noises of deliciousness.

"Do you want to taste the brine," I asked my husband.

He dipped his spoon, tasted. Went back for a quarter teaspoon. A little more. I was silent.

"Okay," he said. "I'll taste one."

I hadn't said a word. I was holding my breath. I wanted him to like them but I didn't want him to like them too; I'd only canned three jars.

He put a beet in his mouth. Chewed. No spitting. He didn't exclaim. But before he'd finished swallowing, he was reaching for another.

I found the recipe at Saving the Season. Cider vinegar, brown sugar, star anise, cinnamon, cloves. It's a keeper!

What Makes A Farmers' Market Good?

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It's wildflower season in the far reaches of Northern California, which is where we found ourselves last weekend. Rhododendrons the size of old redwood trees, well, not really, but they were huge. And blooming. Brilliant, each of them.

As much as I was charmed by the endless swaths of sweet peas, the foxglove, yellow lupine, buttercups, a single trillium, it was the Arcata farmers' market that was my favorite stop of the trip. It's had me wondering what makes a good market. Because all farmers' markets are not created equal. I recently left one hungry and empty handed.

One of my favorite things about a farmers' market, which was true in Arcata, were the small farmers. They drove pick up trucks, had hand lettered signs, where there were signs at all and each vendor was its own canopy of creativity. This was not a cookie cutter market but a morning gathering on the square, commerce, friends, food. This was art. There was music, benches, green grass. There were women selling raffle tickets to benefit the local breast cancer clinic. Top prize, a trip to Nova Scotia.

The produce was animated with color; the spinach more green than hundred dollar bills. The carrots bunched in rainbows of yellow, orange, red and white. The food was harvested but still growing. Even the eggs, one araucana green in each dozen, were romantic. The food was fresh in a way that could not be manufactured.

I like finding something new at a farmers market too; that one of a kind item that surprises me. In Arcata it was sand dune honey. It tasted of fog and salt; it tasted of wind.

I like a market with diversity, old farmers, young farmers. A market with character, that's honest; that celebrates a place. I like markets with real food, an extra handful of cherries, bright eyes and rounding that always ends in quarters.

What is it that makes a farmers' market good for you?


I can't pronounce the name of the book, eaarth, either and I've heard the author, Bill McKibben, say it several times in interviews, "eaarth," he says, pronouncing the double a's with a gurgle. I can't explain it. Each time I can see him smile when he says it though and I held tightly to that image as I read the book. The man is optimistic and yet 50 pages in I had a post apocalyptic dream. Or maybe it was a hot flash. Either way it woke me up.

Which is the point of McKibben's eaarth; to wake his audience up to the subtitle of his book, Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.

He stacks up the effects of climate change, not thirty years from now, but changes occurring right now, one on top of the other and somehow, I don't know how, but somehow still gives the reader room to breathe. I kept picking the book up to read more. Bill McKibben's perennial optimism comes through. In one interview he sited his optimism as the result of working with young people. I loved that.

I also loved the last quarter of the book, Lightly Carefully, Gracefully. He writes about industrial farming, small farmers, farmers' markets, local food; my favorite subjects. He writes about community and being neighborly, which is good food anytime.

McKibben's good neighbor, Barbara Kingsolver, blurbs the book on the front cover.

"What I have to say about this book is very simple; Read it, please. Straight through to the end. Whatever else you were planning to do next, nothing could be more important."

I can't blurb the book better than that. It's not always an easy read but it is an important read.

Local on our Table - June

Farmers' Market
Chioggia Beets
Meyer Lemons
New Potatoes
Orange Blossom Honey
Red Beets
White Peaches
Wild Arugula
Yellow Beets
Yellow Crookneck Summer Squash

Back Deck Harvest

From The Freezer/Pantry
Tomato Sauce

To the Freezer/Pantry
Blackberry Jam
Black-Straw, Blueberry, Thyme Jam
Pickled Beets
Snow Prince Peaches in Lavendar Syrup

Gleaned and Gifted
(From Someone Else's Yard)

Cayenne Pepper
Jalapeno Pepper
Lime Tree
Serrano Pepper
Thai Basil
White Nasturtium

Flower Farm Honey