Beets, more beets, and vegetable confit

Yes I love beets, and I think they are underappreciated, so I’m always looking for more things to do with beets. From Cook’s Illustrated the article on “Turn the Beet Around” has some suggestions: Charred beet salad among some others. If you search Kitchn for beets you get lots of recipes. Some look good, others, maybe not so good. I have found beet hummus in the grocery store (a reputable brand that does do good humus) and, explorer and beet lover than I am, I did try it. It’s good, and should I find it again (it’s since disappeared) I would buy it again, but make it? I don’t think so. Just as I’m unlikely to make pickled beets. However, chocolate beet bundt cake, might just be a possibility. I mean we do eat carrot cake, so why not?

I do have a beet liqueur that I love, too.

However, cold beet soup is still a summer favorite, and easier now that it is possible to buy already cooked beets or frozen sliced beets. I’ve griddled beet slices and the caramelization that takes is a whole new level of flavor from them

Stahlbush Island Farms

My latest discovery of beets is poached beets. Yes, no kidding. I was reading my email from Mark Bittman’s eponymous website just a day or two ago and found an article titled “Charred Olive-Oil-Poached Beets. I don’t know why that struck me as so startling. I didn’t fire up the grill, but I did pitch some of these on my cast-iron griddle and they were really good!

While it may be controversial, I’m familiar with making vegetable confit and even vegan rillettes. After some thought this really didn’t seems so strange–maybe just that beets are underappreciated vegetables. So, beet confit! The recipes I’ve reviewed on vegetable confit suggest that if covered with oil they can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three–yes, 3 months.

This seems like a great way to handle extra veggies when you’re doing single-serving cooking. So, controversial or not, I’ll likely be trying some more vegetable confit when the summer bounty is in the farmers’ market.

A son gôut!

†

From Mark Bittman, Charred Olive-Oil-Poached Beets

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Another Beet Soup

Beets image from Swallowtail Garden seeds

beets

It’s no secret that I love beets, beet soups (cold or hot) and salads so any recipe for beets catches my eye, and may evoke some interesting gustatory imagery as well as an urge to run to the kitchen and cook.

Perusing my email this morning I found a recipe for a beet soup from Will Frolic for Food that sounded so intriguing that I just had to add it to the collection. I’ll confess to total ignorance about hemp hearts until reading this recipe, but I did note that they may be omitted if they don’t occupy a place in your pantry.

The list of ingredients really sparked my interest–lots of things that I have in my herb and spice collection, but that I hadn’t thought to combine with beets. And if you’re wondering I haven’t made this yet, but I’ve updated my grocery list for a few of the things that I need to make it–including the pink peppercorns for garnish.

 

 

Hive report 11 Nov 2015

IMG_8695_11_11_trafficFinally a let up in rain and warm enough for me to play at the hive.  There’s still traffic in and out of the hive, but less than during warmer weather when there was nectar and pollen in more plentiful supply.  I didn’t see much pollen coming in at all.  When I removed the syrup feeders, there were lots of the girls up there slurping up syrup.

After I removed the syrup feeders I removed the inner cover–which were firmly glued in place with propolis.  The girls now have a candy-board and a quilt box to see them through the winter.  I wanted to place a mouse guard today, but wasn’t successful since the girls have done such a good job of gluing it in place with propolis that I’m going to have to actually lift the bottom brood box in order to get it out.  That means removing the other brood box and the super.  I didn’t do that this afternoon. Other beekeepers in this area have told me that they do not use metal mouse guards–just the wooden entrance reducer. I would really prefer to put metal mouse guard on, but there was enough traffic and enough guard bees out that I didn’t attempt that today. I do have a metal shield that will fit over my entrance reducer so I’ll place that instead, entrance reducer opening at upper edgeonce I get it cut down to 8-frame size.

I’ve heard different opinions for beekeepers on how the opening in the entrance reducer should be oriented–up or down. Mine is down now.  I wasn’t concerned about this as there was an upper entrance in the inner cover. I heard that for winter, the opening of the entrance reducer should be on top if there is winter-die off: if it’s down it could be blocked with dead bees. Now that I’ve removed the inner cover to place the candy-board and quilt box, I no longer have and upper entrance or ventilation.  One certainly hope that there’s not  going to be winter-die off, but I know some bees will die during the winter. (I’m learning how thoroughly things can be glued in with propolis.)

entrance reducer opening at lower edgeSo–do I place an Imrie shim to keep an upper entrance? Or am I going to have to lift the bottom box and change the orientation of the entrance reducer, or just substitute the mouse guard.  I miss having the class before the bees arrived; however from the looks of the colony, they are training me pretty well.  From Bee Journal, the inventor of the Imrie shim has written about it’s appropriate use–and providing upper entrance in fall and winter is not an intended use–it fact it’s an explicit no-no. Since he’s a successful beekeeper, and inventor of the shim, I think I may heed his advice.  But then there is the advice to provide an upper entrance. . . .

Now I’m left with the quandary of the orientation of the opening in the entrance reducer! Multiple opinions. (I’m beginning to suspect that if you ask 10 beekeepers about this you’ll get 12 different answers. I can see the logic of having the opening at the upper edge of the reducer, especially for winter–especially if that is the only entrance. The solution is probably to get the entrance reducer out and place the mouse guard.  No matter what it looks as if I’m going to have to lift that bottom box–which is pretty well filled with brood and honey, and the two above are now well filled with brood, and the upper with honey.  (This all makes me contemplate the virtues of the long (horizontal) Langstroth hive–which is not the same as a top-bar hive.

All my questions aside, it was good to see so many bees working in the honey super and  drawing and filling even the outermost frames. They’ve obviously been busy since my last inspection.  That should give them a good honey supply for the winter.  Being the “newbee” that I am, I am glad that the candy-board is on the hive.  Much better safe than sorry come spring.

Ever since the nuc arrived here I’ve been used to going out almost every day–even in the rain sometimes–to see what’s going on at the hive. I’m sure that during the winter when I can’t see any traffic I’ll still be going out to look at the hive and wondering how things are inside.  It’s rather amazing how attached you can get to a batch of insects! I’m sure it’s going to seem like a long winter, with rampant curiosity on my part. I do have to hope for another warm day so that I can remove the treatment I placed for varroa mites, but that’s going to be a very quick in-and-out for that purpose only unless it’s an unseasonably warm day.

(I’m pleased with how much honey is in the hive–I hope the candy-board is totally superfluous. I’m happier now that there is candy-board and quilt box on the hive.)

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Beets in a surprising place

bottle and glass of Beatnik

Beatnik liqueur

If you’re any sort of a “regular” here I’m sure that you are aware that I think beets are under-appreciated vegetables. I’ve posted a number of beet recipes that I’ve found on other blogs and that I like. Last week I got an unusual (I mean they don’t bombard you with emails) from the Brothers Vilgalys who produced the Krupnikas about which I posted.  Well the email introduced some new liqueurs. (Note that this is a liqueur; it is not a cocktail called beatnik.)

The first that I’m sampling is the Beatnik. I don’t know what that conjures up for you, but it is a fantastic taste.  (You aren’t surprised, are you? Not given my fondness for beets!)

I suppose that the last place you’d expect beets to show up would be in a liqueur.  I was surprised when I read the description, but I just had to try it.

So, here is a liqueur with beets in it, described in the email as “An unusual liqueur made with Beets & Savory Herbs. Draws a bit of inspiration from an old Estonian liqueur I read about. Goes great with Gin drinks.”

I can tell you it is awesome! The beets are tempered/seasoned with orange zest, rosemary, thyme, sage, and fennel. I doubt that you could pick each one out as they blend so smoothly.  I’m sampling it “straight” this evening, but I’m going to try a splash of seltzer, as I’ve found that the Krupnikas (for warm weather) does nicely with that.

There are three others. I had a telephone call from the Woodcroft ABC store this afternoon to let me know that these had arrived. The Beebop was missing (that one has rhubarb and other goodies), but Jabberwock (coffee, chickory and some spicy things) and Zaphod (which is a fruity, minty one) were available.  I’ll be reporting on those in the fairly near future.

I’m just entranced by the nose of the Beatnik. The beets are certainly not obscured by the herbs and the orange zest–it all just blends together into a lovely earthy, beety, resiny, woodsy flavor.  In a word, awesome.

It gives me some ideas for seasoning beets as a vegetable too.

Beet pizza

Looking through the WordPress blog reader, I found a lovely picture–it was a beet pizza  post on Dinner for (N)one.  Looks really good, given how much I like beets.  I wanted to re-blog it because it looked so great, but somehow the electronic world of cyberspace is being obstreperous this afternoon.  So, I’m just posting the link without the gorgeous pictures.

Beet salad with feta

I’m in a work rush with a close deadline on a book that I’m indexing and that means that any heavy duty cooking (anything that requires turning on the stove, or pushing a button on the microwave) is out for the next few days. In need of lunch, I perused the fridge contents.

There was a package of Melissa’s Produce steamed, peeled, baby beets that I  brought home from the  supermarket produce section; toted home and put in the vegetable bin (sometime ago, and not yet used) so I made the easy beet salad from Chef Mimi’s blog this afternoon. This was a great light, quick,  warm-day lunch.

The beets are vacuum sealed in heavy plastic.  The texture is perfect–just like I’d steamed and peeled them myself–and they have a long shelf-life so I can always have them around without feeling that I absolutely HAVE to have beets today, or even tomorrow.

It’s not that cooking beets is difficult, but when there’s a really pressing deadline and I need lots of work time, I go for convenience and speed  but I don’t want to sacrifice taste. That usually rules out canned vegetables (except for beans and tomatoes) though I admit to not have checked out canned beets in ages because I really never liked the taste;  I can see that I need to revisit the canned ones again, too.

These vacuum packed ones just moved beets right up with canned beans as a convenience item in my pantry.

(Let me be clear about my comments on any products mentioned in my posts:  I have no connection (except as a consumer) with Melissa’s Produce, nor with Stahlbush Island Farms (mentioned below.  I get no remuneration for comments or use of these products.)

Now, I tasted the beets straight from the package and then made my salad.  I didn’t spiralize them, so my salad wasn’t as pretty as that pictured on Cher Mimi’s blog, but it was tasty.  I doubt that I could tell those vacuum-sealed, pre-cooked beets from ones that I had steamed and peeled myself (unless I looked at the color of my hands).  You could put those in a bowl and serve as a vegetable without anything except warming them and adding seasoning of your choice.

I have one more “convenience” product that I want to check out:  Stahlbush Island Farms sliced frozen beets that I found in the frozen food section at my local Harris Teeter.  I didn’t go to the frozen foods section expecting beets (probably the farthermost thing from my mind just then–I was looking for chopped kale) but right next to the Stahlbush Island Farms chopped curly kale, were sliced beets. As slicedbeetswebyou’ve probably gathered, I’m incapable of leaving something like that in the store.  So, I have those in the freezer to try next.

One of my other summer favorites is beet soup. I can certainly speed up making that if I use one of these products!  I can replace the beet greens with Swiss chard–maybe even find it frozen as well.

One of the appealing things about the frozen beets is that I can use some and put the remaining ones back in the freezer without having leftover veggies.  Since they are sliced, but uncooked, I have more flexibility. With the vacuum packed ones or a can, you have to do something with  the rest of the beets so that they don’t linger too long in the fridge and grow interesting colors of mold, and eventually find the way to the garbage.

My only “regret” with the Melissa’s beets was that I really like  beets roasted instead of steamed.  The first way I’ll try the frozen ones is roasted as suggested on the website.

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Until I found these products in the frozen food section, I’d never heard of Stahlbush Island Farms, but after looking at the website and the products, I’ll certainly follow up to check out some of the grains and legumes that are frozen, as well as fruits. (Again, no connection, except as a consumer, and picky at that.)

I noticed black raspberries on the product list. I’m a fanatic about black raspberries–there’s a big difference in flavor from the red ones that we see in the stores, not that those aren’t good, but black raspberries are what I grew up with, and thus my idea of what raspberries should be.