Medieval Snacks Aplenty
July 13, 2011, 4:55 pm
Filed under: Saving the Harvest

My favorite smell is dirt. That probably comes as no surprise to anyone, in fact, I even have a cologne called Dirt that smells like — you guessed it! And oddly enough I also like the — err taste– of dirt. Not dirt persay but that really earthy, grassy, ‘I have been in soil or a lake’ taste. In fact I love it. I am convinced that in addition to my love of huge goblets of wine (thats a love-hate relationship let me tell you) and meat-pies, and pickled things, I must have had a wild and whoolly good time during my past life in the Middle Ages. Until I was unceremoniously decapitated for stealing chickens or being unable to bear a man-child to a violent King or something. Those are just good guesses, but I am certain I WAS alive at that time.

So, one of my favvvvvvvvvvorite things to grow are beets. And it’s wild, the beets totally know that I adore them and it REALLY affects the way that they grow! I hate to brag but my beets are gorgeous.

In the heyday of Andy Warhol he hung out with this groovy chick named Ultra Violet, and true to her namesake she had a vivid mane of voilet-hued hair. She discovered that it was very difficult to maintain such an unnatural color to the extent that she wanted to, and being photographed and out in public constantly she had to look pristene at all times. Thus she developed a daily ritual of soaking her locks in beet juice, as a daily color enhancing rinse. I read this in my early twenties as a proudly demented punk rocker (with…you guessed it…purple hair) and as my hair was long and wavy and didn’t hold the color well either I followed Ultra’s lead and adopted the same trick to brighten my tresses. I also used Kool-Aid but that is another story. Well the moral of the story is– it works. And it also stains your hands, your bathtub, your skin, and makes you smell like dirt. The last part didn’t bother me. However, I digress……

Sunday, MonkeyMan was kind enough to not only pick my ripened bed of baby beets but to re-seed the bed with a very exciting varietal called Bull’s Blood (hey anything with blood in the name must be a wowzer right??) So last night I peered into the fridge while prepping supper and I determined I better get a leg up on those beets. I have– over the years- gone the whole start to finish pickling process, only to discover that I am the only one who likes pickled beets, and unless I invite over a couple adventurous eaters for late summer brunch those puppies are gonna go to waste. So I have fashioned a quick and easy method (ok ok its not MY method lots of folk do this) of temporary pickling that doesnt require a sealed jar for pantry storage, you just have to keep them refrigerated like pickles. But its quick, easy and works really well for the solo beet enthusiast.

While I was making dinner, I took a moment to clean the beets. I trimmed off both ends and washed them by bulk in a collander while a pot of water boiled on the stove. Then I boiled them while I finished making dinner — about 25 minutes, but the beets were very small. If they were larger they would have needed about an hour. These were roughly ping pong ball sized. After I finished cooking. I turned them off but left them in the water. By the time we were done eating they had cooled enough to peel.

I think the best way to peel them is after they have boiled and they are rather soft. The skin is not palitable and you will never want to eat it, its tough and when the beets are young, the skin can be prickly. The water softens it up and you can just roll the skin off with your fingers or in a towel. This took about 5 minutes to do them all and then I rinsed them very good.

Next, I poured them into a mason jar. These were small enough that it only took one jar. Then I filled the jar with white vingegar, about 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of pickling salt, 1 tsp of whole allspice, and 1 broken cinnamon stick. If you have it whole cloves are great here, and bay leaf. I had bay leaf, but my husband was downstairs and I need him to open the jar for me so I ommitted it. I gave the jar a good shake and then placed it in the fridge. I am thinking in one week they will be perfect.

MonkeyMan told me recently that if you just do one thing every evening after your regular job that makes you feel accomplished that you are accomplished; you have that feeling of satisfaction that comes with completing a rote task. When I sit in my cube all day, crunching numbers and communing only with a computer, I can lose track of my purpose, and feel like a drone. It’s a necessary evil, our jobs, but what keeps us truly in touch with ourselves? I grew these beets, I pickled them, and maybe soon I will share them with beet-loving friends. Its like a little circle of happy, and so very simple. But these kind of things keep my feet on the ground, and my nose sniffing the dirt, where it is supposed to be 🙂


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