When I first started to eat a healthier diet, I began by increasing the healthful things I was already eating and already comfortable making, like salads. The problem was that once I had a huge green salad made – local greens, organic cucumbers, the whole nine yards, I had no clue what to put on it that didn’t have copious quantities of oil. I felt like an aspiring chef on Chopped where ‘salad’ was the required dish and they’d given me root vegetables, nuts and a stone fruit to make a dressing. Total deer in the headlights.
Beet season has officially arrived. Hallelujah! Last weekend was the first crop of local beets at the Spenard Farmer’s market, but thanks to a rather busy week at work I didn’t get around to using them until this weekend. First on the list for the ruby roots is this beet soup that I have been eyeballing on the Two Sister’s Bakery website.
You just can’t go wrong with a stuffed mushroom. In this version, savory and earthy cremini mushrooms pair nicely with a creamy, garlicky filling. The walnut topping gives them a little crunch, and the nutritional yeast imparts a cheesy / buttery flavor reminiscent of the classic breadcrumb stuffed mushrooms that so many of us grew up with.
Being from the Boston area means three things:
- I can never date a Yankees fan
- My driving isn’t bad, it’s just regionally inappropriate for Alaska….or most places
- On Saturday nights I feel compelled to have baked beans.
Baked beans on Saturday night is a long time New England tradition. In modern times it seems somewhat incompatible with the popular “date night”, but considering that the colonists ate them cold on Sunday morning to fortify them for their solemn church service, it’s hard to say which generation was more at risk for embarrassment.
Chocolate Bean Balls. Those are three words that I never thought I’d use in a sentence, never mind in a recipe. I think this must have been the delicious dish that caused all the fuss in that Saturday Night Live skit. You know the one – with Alec Baldwin (a.k.a Pete Schweddy) and his irresistible…..spheres. If you could make it past the innuendo and the double entendres, you remember that the ladies really were quite taken with the delicious, though rather unfortunately shaped, treats. The skit ran out of time before they were able to discuss the real merits of the delightful little orbs, which is a pity, because I think these are just about as perfect as it gets for a hiking snack.
This recipe was inspired by my friend Cyndi, who read the Creamy Orange Cashew Dressing post and asked if I had any raspberry dressings. In Alaska that should be like asking if you own a pair of Xtra Tuffs (in other words, answered with an immediate and emphatic “of course!”, followed by a haughty look). Raspberries grow like a weed here, and they’re a rare red thing, so raspberry salad dressing should be right up my vegan alley. Yet, somehow in the 10 years that I have lived in Alaska, I had not even considered it….until now!
I was first introduced to this recipe by my neighbor, Keith. It’s one of those recipes that is deceptively simple, and to be honest, if I hadn’t tasted it I never would have made it based on the recipe alone. These sorts of recipes make me wonder what else I’m missing in my embarrassingly large cookbook collection. How many recipes have I glossed over, thinking “Nah – too basic”, “Nah – too bland”, or “Chocolate and black beans in a dessert? What is the world coming to??”
Last year, at one of the last Spenard farmer’s markets of the season, I came across a vendor with the most incredibly sweet and tender beets. As I was picking through the beautiful bunches of ruby roots, the farmer came over and told me to ‘pick a good one’, because they were the last of his crop. I made my selection and hurried home, beet tops overflowing my bags. I hadn’t even unpacked all of my purchases before the beets were peeled and into the boiling water, and a fresh batch of tofu mayo was whirring away in the blender. The resulting beet salad was so good that after lunch I walked directly back to the farmer’s market and bought every last beet he had.
I found it used at Title Wave for $5.95. The recipes didn’t look particularly inspired, and there were no photos, but I was intrigued with the story of the book – or at least the story that I imagined went with the book. Just the title says it all. If you eat this way, prepare to eat alone. Get used to it. It’s not that bad. You can always get a cat….or six.
The Alaska palette is blues and grays. Add green in summer, add white in winter. It is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, but for a girl who loves red, sometimes it’s enough already with the cold colors. Perhaps that’s why I have become increasingly interested in beets over the years. They just look warm, and make them into a soup on a cold day and they actually are warm. Considering the other benefits that I discussed in my beet tahini post, heck, beets might even make enough heat for two. But I digress.