Eating beetles

I love eating beetles!

And by beetles, I mean beets, of course.  I’m not sure why I’ve taken to calling them that, but I find it amusing.

Matthew bought these at the farmers’ market on Saturday — our first of the season.  The beets in our garden aren’t this big yet.

Roasted Beets

Wash beets thoroughly.  If they’re fairly small (and sometimes even if they’re big) you can skip peeling them.  (My sister taught me this.)  Cut them into small chunks.  Toss with a bit of olive oil and salt.  Spread in a single layer on a baking dish.  Roast for 45-60 minutes at 325-400 degrees F, stirring occasionally.

Delicious on salad with poppy seed dressing (recipe here), onions, toasted pecans, and goat cheese.  Other serving suggestions: serve the roasted beets as a side dish or toss with pasta.

Black-eyed peas

So, back on the first of the year, I wrote a post about a new soup I planned to make.  I said I would post the recipe here if it turned out well, and, nudged by the fact that I made it again last night, I’m finally getting around to it.   Black-eyed peas and kale form the base for this simple, delicious, and healthy soup.

Click here for the recipe for “Southern New Year’s Day Soup” from Vegetarian Times.  A few notes on my adaptations:

  • I used onions instead of leeks both times.  I’m sure leeks would be good, but they’re not something we keep around.
  • I used a liberal amount of garlic (shocker, I know!).
  • The recipe calls for dried black-eyed peas and never tells you to cook them.  If you start with dry peas, you need to soak and cook them just like you would any dried bean (although I think they cook faster than other types of dried beans).  Otherwise, if you can find them, you can start with canned black-eyed peas.
  • I used water and the cooking liquid from the peas, along with a bit of extra poultry seasoning, instead of the quart of vegetable broth.
  • The soup is good both with or without the pasta.  If you add pasta, cook it separately and add it to just the portion that you will be eating at that meal, otherwise it will get soggy.
  • As before, both the peas and the kale were locally grown 🙂

The first and the last

I love it when we sit down to a meal and realize it’s almost all local food!  We made this salad with our first garden harvest of greens (although we’ve been buying local lettuce for a few weeks now), radishes, green onion, and locally grown kidney beans.  The sunflower seeds and dressing (homemade with a base of olive oil, vinegar, and minced garlic) prevent this salad from being 100% local.

Second component of the meal: butternut squash soup.  We bought 15 butternut squash in the fall; for this meal, we ate the last squash.  They kept beautifully for over six months with minimal effort.  We put them in mesh bags (the bags that onion come in, for example) and hung the bags from nails in our basement.  Simple!

For this soup, we roasted the whole squash, then added sauteed onions, butter, milk, cumin, turmeric, and salt.  I blended it all with my stick blender for easy clean-up.

It all came together for a simple, delicious, local dinner.

Strawberry season + deep freeze = lots of work (and some good eats)

Late last fall, we purchased a used deep freeze so we would have a way to store local produce for the long winter months.  We are just now beginning to fill it with spring’s bounty.  Last weekend was asparagus; this weekend was strawberries.  Locally grown, using organic practices strawberries.

I froze most of the berries whole, but I couldn’t resist making some freezer jam.  I’ve observed my mom making freezer jam, but had never done it myself.  When I called for directions, she warned me that I would not like the amount of sugar necessary for the process.  (I frequently cut the amount of sugar in recipes to make them healthier.  You can often do this without negatively impacting the recipe.)

A quick bike ride to the grocery store yielded some Sure-Jell (pectin), complete with directions for freezer jam.  I quickly scanned the directions and saw that for 2 cups of crushed strawberries, I was supposed to add 4 cups of sugar.  4 cups of sugar???  For 2 cups of berries?!?  Why don’t I just open the bag of sugar and pour it straight down my throat?

As I was contemplating reducing the sugar, I looked more closely at the directions, which seemed to be speaking directly to me:

Measure exact amount of sugar into a separate bowl.  (REDUCING SUGAR OR USING SUGAR SUBSTITUTES WILL RESULT IN SET FAILURES.)

(Note: bold, italics, and all caps were part of the original directions, not something I added.)

They may as well have written, “Melissa, we are talking to you.  We know you are thinking about reducing the amount of sugar.  Don’t do it!”

I reluctantly bowed to the wisdom of the powers that be, and I now have about 10 cups (I doubled the recipe) of delicious strawberry flavored sugar goo jam in my freezer.  To be enjoyed in moderation.