As January continues, I am forging ahead with my new Foodie Reads Challenge. I don't know where I picked up a copy of How Carrots Won the Trojan War by Rebecca Rupp*, but I'm so glad I had it on my nightstand this weekend. While the storms raged outside, I hunkered down with this book and a cup of tea...many cups of tea.
On the Page...
This is a fun, breezy read and it's all about vegetables! I love learning veggie fun facts.
Did you know that in the 1990s, the US government subsidized the Peruvian asparagus crop to coerce farmers to stop growing coca, the material from which cocaine is produced?
Did you know that Pliny the Elder touted bean-based remedies - "beans parched in vinegar are good for 'gripings of the bowels;' beans boiled with garlic are good for coughs; and even the ashes of beanstalks are useful for soothing sciatica"?
Did you know that Abraham Lincoln was a cabbage lover and requested corned beef and cabbage for his inaugural dinner in 1861?
Did you know that the first carrots came from Afghanistan and were purple, not orange? And, did you know that carrots aren't high on a rabbits' food list? They actually prefer peas, beets, and beans.
Did you know that the Oklahoma declared the watermelon its state vegetable in 2007? Yes, I know that watermelon is a fruit. However the senators sponsoring the bill argued that the watermelon was a vegetable due to its relationship with the cucumber and the gourd.
Rupp is both a thorough historian and delightful writer. I will definitely be seeking out more books written by her.
On the Plate...
Inspired by chapter three - Beets Make Victorian Belles Blush - and the Cynlindra beets I just picked up from Farmer Jamie of Serendipity Farms, I decided to make a salad with the beets and some Cara Cara oranges.
The chapter begins: "A lot of us don't like beets." Sadly, that's true. One of my best friends used to call them 'purple dirt circles' until I tormented him with an entire dinner made from beets. He's now a convert. Turns out there's a scientific explanation for the dirt assertion. "The crucial chemical tht gives beets their distinctive flavor is the same substance that makes a garden smell so good after a rain. Called geosmin...[it's] produced by a number of microorganisms, including blue-green algae and soil bacteria."
Yummy, yummy purple dirt circles...
- 2 bunches of organic Cylindra beets, about 4 or 5 medium ones
- 2 large Cara Cara oranges
- 2 T fresh parsley, chopped
- freshly ground salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 C red wine vinegar
- 1/4 C olive oil
- 1/2 t Dijon mustard
- also needed small mason jar with lid
Slice off the tops of the beets and scrub them clean. Place the beets in a large saucepan and cover them with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until tender, approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. Drain. Once the beets are cool enough to handle, rub the skins off with your hands.
With a paring knife, slice off the skins of the Cara Cara oranges. Thinly slice the peeled oranges. Slice the peeled beets to a similar thickness of the orange slices.
Arrange the beets and orange slices on a serving plate. Scatter parsley over the salad. Sprinkle with freshly ground salt and freshly ground pepper.
In a mason jar, add all of the dressing ingredients. Shake to emulsify. Shake, shake, shake, and shake some more. Drizzle the dressing over the salad. Serve immediately.
Here's what everyone else read in January 2017: here.