Did Not Dress the Beets and Other Things Done in the Kitchen Last Week

July 6, 2015 at 2:11 pm

Who Said Peeling Turnips Was Easy

It was just about this time last week, I was filled with hope and promise towards all the produce filling the bungalow. I had one mere instruction: don’t dress the beets. If you know me and know my ability to follow instructions you might think the one thing I did last week was dress some beets. Well, I’m happy to tell you I did not. I did have a dickens of a time peeling turnips. I had not mentioned it last week, but very much in my plans for the week was to roast turnips. I knew we were having my widower Dad over for Friday night dinner, and I know that beets were mom’s thing. Dad does not have many things when it comes to vegetables. He eats no forms of cooked greens, no one can make kale trendy for him. He even refuses mesclun and related lettuces because they are too much “like leaves”. His shallow repertoire does include turnips, better if they are roasted. So, when this week’s Tomato Mountain* CSA box showed up with turnips, I did not bother putting them away. I started peeling. And dropping.

I maintain. I want to maintain. That cooking is easy. That the eat local life is within everyone’s grasp because it does not take a lot of work to make dishes from what’s in the market, what shows up in the box. Then, those little suckers squirm out of my hand, and I’d be yelling and cursing but as I was cooking alone, it would be a lot of wasted yelling and screaming. I took solace in Instagram. I will say this. The turnips roasted, olive oil, dry thyme and some Aleppo pepper hit the spot for Dad.

With the rare July chance to to get the oven going, I put a lot of vegetables in the dry heat.

I roasted them individually, broccoli, fennel, carrots, but when I was done, I threw them all in a bowl (mostly as a way to get some dishes clear). I skipped the beets.

I mean I skipped the beet roots. I did the Tamar Adler thing, get a big pot of water boiling, be generous with the salt. I plunged a mix of beet tops and chard into the water, cooking it for less than five minutes. I let it drain and drain some more and then after than I squeezed out as much water as I could. I believe the success of dressed, boiled greens comes from the lack of stagnant water left in the greens. The dressing, grated fresh ginger, Korean pepper flakes, roasted sesame oil, Dijon mustard, soy and rice vinegar–it is a dressing that works on a lot of stuff.

cooked greens

Or make no dressing. I had in mind for some spinach, what comes out at Greektown. The bitter greens tamed by lemon and lots of good olive oil. I, of course, do not have the courage to drown the greens in that much olive oil. Chunks of Nordic Creamery+ grumpy goat cheese compensated in richness.

I mentioned last week that I got my first batch of peppers last week. Inspired, I made two very hot cabbage dishes, neither taking advantage of the serranos for their heat. First, I made what I call Jamaican cabbage. It helps in this dish to have your pot of flavored Tamar-water, that is water you have used to boil other vegetables. I make this dish by sweating out a few onions in clarified butter (Nordic Creamery), then adding minced fresh ginger, about eight heavy shakes of the turmeric vessel and a tablespoon or so of garam marsala. I cook that on medium heat until the house smells good, add a carrot cut in coins and then a whole cabbage, cored and shredded. By the way, this dish works best in a high sided pan, one half-way between a sauce pan and a saute pan. I put in a healthy ladleful of Tamar-water and cook until cabbage is tender, about 25 min on medium low heat. I finished with cilantro and about a 1/2 serrano. This was hot. Hotter, I took another cabbage, did all the same things, except skipped the carrot, and where it says turmeric and curry, add harissa paste (this one). I used less than a soda spoon’s worth, thinking I’d could always add more. I did not need too.

We have not come close to eating all the local foods I prepared last week (or the local food the Condiment Queen prepared), and we already have new things to think about: more greens, more cabbage, kohlrabi, and we still have not, not dressed the beets. See how life unfolds for this Local Family.

*Mom works for Tomato Mountain

+Younger Daughter works for Nordic Creamery