July 26, 2011

Staying UpBeet

A Sunday trip to the Rochester Public Market with my family in tow prompted a second look at my new friend, the beet.  This time, though, I was ready to get serious with the sanguine: I took a long look at the greens, whose veins are as red as their vegetable, and wondered what the heck I could do with them as I was hoping to have some kind of leafy edible on the plate at dinnertime.

Heath Googled what to do with beet greens while I shucked fresh corn and the kids... amused themselves in the living room. Heath announced that beet greens were not only edible, but a favorite green among many, and that the greens, like the red stems, are sweet.  Beet greens, apparently, can be prepared like spinach.  I washed them and put them into the saute pan with some olive oil and salt, turned on the heat, and waited to see what happened.

We were so enthused about using the entire vegetable--a bunch of four, enormous beets cost $4.50 (local, organic farmer)--from root to leaf, that Heath got some tuna steaks out and made a crunchy, peppery rub for each of them, and turned on the grill.  We love it when an unplanned dinner comes together.

These were so delicious that I can confirm that nothing really needs to be done with these.  They do cook down fast, and what looks like too much cooks down to almost nothing.  I added my roasted beets to the mix (after taking the greens out of the pan) and finished it with a teensy bit of basting sauce (garlicky, but again, not necessary).  Grilled tuna steaks, fresh corn from the farm lady in Henrietta, fresh cherries, beet green salad, an ambery beer, and pineapple popsicles for dessert.  A heavenly summer supper.

July 12, 2011

Notes on Road-tripping With Kids & Without DVDs

courtesy thetravelersguidebook.wordpress.com
{This post will be republished on Kveller.com.}

Maybe don't do it.  Bring a DVD or two until your kids are in grade school and have required reading.  As I just said to a friend who suggested I write about this--and actually thinks I'd be applauded for braving several trips with two kids and without DVDs (she's pregnant...)--of all the moms I am good friends with, I am the dimwit.  Let it be known that we didn't consciously not bring a personal DVD player because we believe in "no t.v. for kids" (quite the contrary, but that's a post for another time).  We didn't bring one because we were pressed for time to buy or borrow one.  Also, let it be known that we once brought a DVD player on our first-ever roadtrip with two kids, and it worked really well for keeping the toddler entertained for one of four hours.  But somehow, the charger cord for that device was lost between our house and my in-laws' house, and so our borrowing expensive things days are at an end.

Here are my mental notes on the subject after three consecutive car trips (three weekends in a row) with a two-year-old and a 10-month-old:

Infants don't need DVDs, but thrive on stimulation from their elder siblings who like to make farting noises and silly faces that involve sticking their chubby little fingers in their noses, mouths, and eyes simultaneously.  This is how all of our trips started out, except for the final leg home from Vermont, which began with two screaming (read: bloody murder screaming) kids, both overtired as we'd missed the "let's leave at naptime" window, resulting in two kids who slept for three of the five hour ride home.

{N.B.: That was sweeeet.  Because *I* was driving that leg, and my husband fell asleep, too, in the passenger seat.  I turned off the radio to preserve the white noise hum of wheels on pavement, which worked to keep everyone sleeping.  All I could hear were the hum, the snoring, the muted tinky-tanky baby sleep music of the Pandora station on my iPhone that Heath was unconsciously gripping in his hand, and, good gravy, MY THOUGHTS.  It was the most peace I'd had throughout the whole trip.}

Fresh Beats help D cope with being harnessed in
Now: two-year-olds do not need DVDs.  But MOM does.  Because after the third hour of turning around to pick up another toy (or the same toy) that has fallen on the floor of the car for the 13 millionth time, my twisted spine creaks, my neck spasms, and my patience is worn.  Books?  Oh yes, books, books were great, until they weren't.  Coloring books?  Crayons on the floor: not fun.  And those magnet doodles?  Forgot to bring/buy them.  Our basic arsenal of "peace keepers" involved infant toys that squeak and rattle, two little "computers" that help a toddler learn to identify letters, the aforementioned books/coloring books, baby dolls, and then a handful of cd s that the toddler likes to sing to and that we can stand beyond fifteen minutes.

Wait a minute.  Who's attention deficit?  My kid can ask me a million questions ("Moooom!  How many trees is that?"), but it was I who was getting cranky turning around to answer them.  My basic conclusion here is that the personal DVD player is more for the adults than the kids, and those with the aversion to television in general for kids can help me to figure out what to bring on our next family roadtrip: a seven-hour drive to Rhode Island.

July 7, 2011

From Farm to Table: Baby Beets

It didn't occur to me to take a picture of the actual beets I bought at the neighborhood Farmer's Market yesterday, because I was totally entranced by their teensy tiny size, their reddish-golden hues, and their sweet-smelling leaves.  {This is a photo of the beets they were next to, which were equally tempting.}

What to do with beets?

Baby food.
Tie dyeing kitchen towels accidentally.

I just roasted up the baby beets for about 10 minutes, under the broiler.  My house smelled like someone was smoking something illegal, but also, it smelled earthy and as sweet as the raw leaves had promised (I chopped those off of course before putting them in the oven).

Pics to come, but hopefully the baby likes his side dish tonight.  I for one will be happy to see something new in my spinach salad.

July 5, 2011

Orzo You Glad I Didn't Say Risotto?

courtesy of recipetips.com
Just a few posts ago, I was patting myself on the back for narrowly dodging the perils of pasta and potato salads (carbs, saturated fats, etc.), so synonymous with summer, holiday get-togethers.  All I've ever asked for from my pasta salads, whether homemade or restaurant-made, no matter the season, is that I get as little oil and as much veg as possible.

However, between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, I have met two orzo salads I have loved and felt the need to evangelize on the merits of these dishes.  (Neither require much in the way of oils and both ask for fresh veggies, so with all apologies to my buddy Ben, here are two recipes that fall into the category of pasta salads.)

Actually, forget the evangelizing.  Try one of these and see for yourself.  Holy Yummy.  Of course, experiment and improvise at will.

From Darla in Cleveland, OH:

1lb orzo
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
3/4 cup rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes sliced
1 cup tightly packed fresh spinach leaves cut into strips
1/2 red onion chopped
1 small red bell pepper chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup roasted pine nuts

Cook orzo as directed. Drain well and place in a large bowl. Add balsamic vinegar and stir well. Add basil, tomatoes, spinach, onions, red bell pepper, salt, pepper, and evoo. Toss well. Refrigerate until serving.

From Hogan's Restaurant, Rochester, NY (verbatim):

grape tomatoes, cucumbers, mint, a lil shallots, salt, pepper, red wine vinegar, pinch of sugar

{From what I recall, the tomatoes were halved, the cucumbers were diced, the mint was bountiful, the shallots modest, and the vinegar/sugar ratio seemed evenly balanced--I tried hard not to lick the plate in public.}