Thursday, February 11, 2016

Reverse Engineered Beets

Beet, Brookfield Farm, Amherst MA (photo: Mary A. Nelen)
The night before last......
we ate at a new place near us in Kinderhook. On special was a thing of beauty and wonder, a thing I had to try in my own kitchen. This is referred to by a man I know as "Reverse Engineering." Whenever he eats something in a restaurant that he find particularly enjoyable, his wife Robbin goes home and figures out how to cook it, right away. Tom calls it “Reverse Engineering” but I call it love. 

The thing of beauty and wonder was Beet Tartare, a jeweled little tuffet of beets on a bed of arugula. It had a sweetness and a velvet, pliant mouthfeel. Where was the sweetness coming from? Perhaps the frozen earth prompting the beet to produce sugar? Reduced balsamic? Maple Syrup? Pomegranate seeds? And the pliancy? These certainly weren't "tartare" raw beets, or were they?


Reverse engineering began with googling "beets" and "raw" and "salad" and consulting cookbook indexes for “beetroot." What resulted was a co-mingling of technique and what I had in my larder. My recipe for Beet Tartare At Home is restaurant perfect. It uses roasted beets, chopped almonds, onion, garlic and a bit of balsamic/fig syrup from the cupboard. (It must be said that "tartare" is a misnomer. The first taste experience of this dish was sweetness, the kind that comes from roasting winter beets.)


As for the shape of the beet thing of beauty and wonder, I didn’t have molds to create a disk like the one used in the restaurant. Instead I employed those little white dishes that are nice for salt and stuff. Starts with a C? 


You get the picture....So I packed the red mixture into those little white dishes that start with a C and left them in the fridge over night. The next day around dinner time I coaxed the mixture out of the little white dishes....ramekin! (Not something that starts with a C.) 

I placed the each beat disk (thee out of four held their shape) on a little bed of arugula, dressed in oil and white wine vinegar with salt and pepper and then drizzled a bit of balsamic/fig juice on top and it was perfect. Just as good as at the new restaurant, if not, dare I say it, better. 



RECIPE: BEET TARTARE AT HOME

5 medium-sized beets wrapped in foil and roasted
1/2 C olive oil
1/4 C balsamic vinegar or balsamic/fig syrup
1 garlic clove finely chopped
2T onion finely chopped
2 T almonds finely chopped
3 C arugula dressed lightly in oil and vinegar with salt and pepper 
  1. Peel and chop beets into very tiny cubes.
  2. Mix liquids in bowl.
  3. Combine beets, onion, garlic & nuts with liquids in bowl.
  4. Press mixture into buttered ramekins.
  5. Refrigerate overnight or for 4 hours.
  6. Release mixture from ramekins gently. 
  7. Place on a bed of arugula lightly coated with vinaigrette.
  8. Drizzle beets with balsamic vinegar or balsamic/fig juice if you happen to have it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Vote for Change

“Growing Season: Women in Agriculture and Food Production”
through August 15, 2016,
W.E.B. Du Bois Library, UMass Amherst

How about shut up and get busy as a campaign slogan? You feminists and voters and people for a better world?

Approximately 58% of the 140 students currently in the Sustainable Food and Farming major in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture are women.


On display in at UMass Amherst Special Collections and University Archives, floor 25, are collections that reflect women and food production, including cookbooks focused on preservation and canning; Helen Hunerwadel who taught and advised on agricultural in Burma and Iran in the 1940s and 1950s; and Elizabeth Henderson, an organic farming pioneer and founding member of the Northeast Organic Farming Association.


The UMass Amherst Libraries host “Growing Season: Women in Agriculture and Food Production,” through August 15, 2016, in the W.E.B. Du Bois Library, both on the Lower Level and in Special Collections and University Archives, on Floor 25, at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The exhibit draws upon the archival collections in Special Collections and University Archives and includes photos, articles, and other artifacts.
For more information, contact Kirstin Kay atkay@library.umass.edu, 413-545-6843.

Friday, February 5, 2016

"It will happen like this......" 

ROCK PAPER SCISSORS

Photo Show at Robert Floyd
February 6 - 29, 20116
Reception, Sunday 2/7 from 1 pm to 5 pm
Robert Floyd Photo Studio
2 East Street at College Highway (Rt. 10)
Southampton MA

Artists: Mary A. Nelen, Rosemary Polletta, Dan Milberg




Wild Food in WInter


Go where the wild food people go.

Winter Markets. This weekend in Greenfield. Next weekend in the Berkshires. Spring is, well, spring is if not right around the corner, spring is inevitable. And to celebrate wild food and the wilderness in general, join kindred spirits in civic buildings for soup and several encounters with, because they can, fresh greens but also workshops, swapping, hot food, activities for kids and seeds.

Saturday, Feb 6, 2016

GREENFIELD MA: Join CISA at the Greenfield Farmers' Market for a special Winter Fare day with free workshops, hot soup, a Valley Food Swap, and more, plus the amazing range of great local food and crafts that await you monthly at this market. CISA will double all SNAP/Food Stamps up to $10. The market will be at the Greenfield High School at 1 Lenox Ave from 10 am to 1 pm.

Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016


GREAT BARRINGTON MA: Berkshire Grown will host its final winter farmers market of the season with live musical entertainment and Food Adventures will lead hands-on snack-making activities for children. Greenagers will also be on hand selling seeds to help community members start planning their own gardens. From 10 am to 2 pm at 
Monument Valley Middle School, 313 Monument Valley Road.