The Delightful Dutch Dish

How one can cook oneself back into local reality

Leek stamppot January 29, 2010

Filed under: main course,vegetable — orangepumpkin @ 19:35
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Today I’m making stammpot with leek. I have a great recipe, but I thought leek wasn’t seasonal in the winter. Until someone told me it actually is in season, because it stays ok while it’s frozen, covered in snow, that kind of thing. And since for today I didn’t have any good plans to make something I hadn’t already ever had or something really old school Dutch, I decided to dig in my memory for the right recipe. I just hope I haven’t forgotten any essential ingredients.

I’m not sure how local the leek is, I went to the doomed supermarket and I didn’t check any of the labels for ‘country of origin’, I just decided that it could be Dutch, and that’s fine with me today. It would be possible to make this dish with entirely Dutch ingredients. And for today, that’s enough of the spirit for me. It’s the absolute most I can courageously give myself, so that’s it for today.

The difficulty with supermarkets is, they have lots of cool stuff to eat. Like Haribo sweets. Which is probably German or something. But it was 50% off, so I bought two. And it’s so full of chemicals, and there’s so much sugar in it my teeth will be spontaneously dropping to the floor on their own accord without my consent anytime soon. But I stopped caring about that too. I’m still way to tired to care about what I put in my mouth, as long as there is something to satisfy my rumbling tummy. So I also bought another sweet: soesjes. Which is a puffy pastry thingy filled with whipped cream. Yup, no caring here. I ate them all. Without getting nauseous, without throwing up, nothing happened. And when I passed the deep frozen section I decided I would get Ben & Jerry’s as well. For the sake of really bad things, all the bad things you could probably eat if you dared. And since I couldn’t make my mind up, I bought two cartons. Something wrong with me? Probably, but… not that I really care.

So, to compensate for this bad behaviour I’m actually making dinner. To follow the soesjes. And I made it from scratch. I didn’t grab the frozen snert that’s still in my freezer. I went ahead and made something new. So proud of myself!

Ingredients:
potatoes (I used three big suckers for me, myself, and I)
1 big leek
cream cheese / butter
salt + pepper
grated cheese
pesto
chopped up walnuts
150 gram diced ham

It’s really easy: you skin the potatoes and cut them up with the leek, boil them for about 20 minutes (no one’s really keeping track, so, make it 30 if you want to), mash them together. Throw in some walnuts, diced ham, a little cream cheese or butter (oh, that is bad, but you did get the fact that I’m not really caring much right now, not about a thing, not even cholesterol, weight gain, zits, the world ending), add half a table spoon of pesto (I use some really great pesto with sun dried tomatoes and some sort of kick ass parmezan in it, it’s from Italy, but… I stopped caring long time ago). Mix well, and finally go ahead and add lots of grated cheese. Some simple cheese will do, it doesn’t have to be fancy. But if you want you can go ahead and put in whatever fancy cheese you want. It does have to be good cheese, not some rubbery plastic surrogate cheese. How much? However much you want! Season with salt and pepper and you’re good to go.

How local?
Potatoes: 50-100km
leek: 100-250km
pesto: Italy, 1500km far and away
salt & pepper: god knows, anyone care less than I do?
walnuts: probably the moon, should/could just be the Netherlands, but it doesn’t say on the package…

 

I broke a rule January 22, 2010

Filed under: cooking — orangepumpkin @ 19:14

I didn’t cook. Instead I had pizza. I have a hunch that means not just one rule got broken, but I stopped caring, at least for today.

Excuses? Oh, plenty. I think I had some really dazzling good reasons. Like I was so super tired, too tired to actually go to the supermarket to buy anything. I was frustrated. I was drained. I couldn’t handle the depression of The Potato Eaters, you know. Apparently I’m not that much of a patriot…

 

Hete Bliksem January 15, 2010

Filed under: cooking,main course,meat,vegetable — orangepumpkin @ 10:23
Tags: , , ,

‘Hete Bliksem’ translates as ‘Hot Lightning’. Yes, this is the actual name of a real dish. I’m not sure if any Dutch person will be able to say ‘Ah yes, that’s a dish, indeed!’ (like my Dutch mother did when I said I would make it), but lots of those people out here will know. Which is very strange since there is the worrisome aspect of calling a dish anything like that. I for one have no clue why it’s called that. I don’t. I’ve racked my brain about it, but I haven’t come up with a solution as of yet. But I haven’t asked Google yet either. I don’t really care, because there are other dishes that have really weird names, like ‘Stoemp’, it’s not even a word! I have no idea what it means, and how it’s related to food. I said ‘stoemp’ and my ever helpful mother said: ‘Oh, that’s a soup, isn’t it?’ and I told her that I’d stumbled upon a recipe of ‘stoemp’ which looked just like ‘hutspot’ (which is a weird name for a dish, too, but it means something like ‘mixed stamppot’ and ‘stamppot’ is anything containing mashed potatoes and mashed vegetables).

Of course, ‘hete bliksem’ is a stamppot. It is! You would not expect it of the dutch to have another stamppot, did you? Anyway, I kind of knew it was a dish and when I read the recipe, I thought, that could work! I was going to visit my family so I consulted with my sister if she’d be ok with a Dutch dish. She said ‘eeeewwww’ and ‘grossss’, and then, bluntly, ‘no!’. So I said, ‘What about a stamppot, like hutspot?’. And she said ‘eeewwww’ again. God knows why we’re related, but I was stumped, she doesn’t like hutspot? How in the name of all things edible is that possible? Hutspot is a great invention, even though it’s Dutch. I mean, who wouldn’t want mashed potatoes, carrots and onions? Obviously I’m related to the only properly born Dutchy who doesn’t. I’ve racked my brain about it, too, and I’ve used Google to find an answer, but I must say Google’s let me down. Anyway, I Googled for some other recipe’s for stamppot, hoping to find something even my sister might like. Based on the ingredients, and not on what it looks like. So I called her again and I said, ‘How about hete bliksem?’. And she said, ‘What?!’. Me: ‘Well, it’s a stamppot…’, she: ‘…which I’m not particularly fond of…’, me: ‘… with potatoes, apples and bacon.’, she: ‘Ok, you can try, but I’ll personally kill you if I don’t like it.’, me: ‘According to this recipe you have to cook the bacon, but that sounds really disgusting…’, she: ‘…oh no! No cooked bacon, fry it!’. And that was the end of it.

I called my mum and I asked her what kind of vegetable should be on the side, and what kind of meat. I mean, 300 grams of fried bacon for 4 people is a little meager on the meat side. Considering that we’re omnivores and my father especially should be considered a carnivore. He’ll eat half a pig for breakfast. Or maybe he used to when I was little and I’m still confused about it, anyway, the guy loves meat. But my mother said, ‘Oh, the apples are the vegetables. And 250 grams of bacon is good enough!’ Right-o. So I took my ingredients over to my parent’s place and I made hete bliksem.

I thought mashed potatoes with apples would be weird. I just couldn’t envision it. But once on my plate, I didn’t mind it so much. It was ok, and the tangy fried bacon was really good with it. As was the skillful amount of all kinds of peppers on hand that were in there. It is a hot dish, so you need pepper. It was quite tasteful. But I told my family I was still a bit concerned because to me, Dutch dishes still are as depressing as The Potato Eaters by Van Gogh. I might have given a certain someone with lots of love for Dutch dishes *cough* a certain idea by mentioning the famous Van Gogh painting. And depressing food also consists of a lump of mashed potatoes with apples and a few bacon bits thrown in. Especially when that’s what’s on your plate. It’s a bit lacking in colour. It’s a bit very sad and quite depressing. And you most definitely can’t serve something like that in a restaurant. Even if it tastes great. It looks horrible, so no one wants to eat it. You need a bit of green to make it look appetizing. And Dutch dishes can be great tasting dishes, they just look depressingly bad. So, I liked the hete bliksem, but next time I will serve it with a salad on the side, and a little more bacon. Because bacon is great!

And over dinner we talked about seasonal vegetables and it turns out, leek is a seasonal vegetable, too! Leek can withstand frost, you just can’t harvest it when it’s freezing, but that’s ok! I like leek. And I know a great stamppot with leek! Ha! And while passing a greengrocer I saw that they have ‘raapsteeltjes’ (‘brassica rapa’ in Latin, or ‘field mustard/turnip mustard’), already. Probably not Dutch, or from a heated greenhouse, but it still means that very soon I can have stamppot with raapsteeltjes, which is a great dish! And I can still make stamppot with ‘winterpostelein’ (winter purslane, or miner’s lettuce). And a salad with ‘veldsla’ (corn salad) which I can combine with winterpostelein. And by that time winter will be over and I haven’t had to make some of the most horrible dishes Dutch cuisine knows, like something with koolraap (rutabaga in English), which is a horrible and slimy thing to eat. But I do have to make a stamppot with celeriac, because that’s great too! I’m so happy winter is almost over (ok, after weeks of below 0 temperatures (Celsius of course), it’s finally thawing. Even though I haven’t been skating, I’m glad for now the icy, snowy mess is finally over. And I refuse to believe it will freeze again and we’ll have an Elfstedentocht, that’s just too much depression.

Ingredients (four small servings):
1 kg potatoes
500 g sweet apples
500 g  sour apples
300 g smoked bacon (cubes)
pepper (I grinded black pepper and added cayenne pepper, a lot of it!)
1 tablespoon of cream cheese

Skin potatoes and apples, cut them up (apples in quarters). Put them in a pot with a layer of about 2cm of water. Cook for 25 minutes, check if the potatoes are ready with a fork and cook them longer if desired. In the mean time, fry the bacon in a frying pan until they’re nicely brown, put aside. Drain the water from the potatoes and apples and mash them with a wire masher. Put in the cream cheese and stir or mash until it’s well mixed. Put in the bacon last and stir until they’re evenly spread. Tadaaaa, hete bliksem can be served!

How local?
Potatoes: 50-100 km (The Netherlands)
Apples: 500-1000 km (France)
Bacon: 100-200 km (The Netherlands, but mass production)
Cream cheese: 100-200 km (The Netherlands)
Pepper: a land far and away, but I’d like to think it was imported in the 1600’s by sailing boat. Wouldn’t that be nice?

 

Scrambled eggs January 9, 2010

Filed under: cooking,meat,side dish — orangepumpkin @ 20:21
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Eggs and I, we don’t really mix well together. Except when there’s other ingredients involved as well, that’s when I love boosting my cholesterol with some really health-unfriendly eggs.

It all started when I was a really young and little orange pumpkin. For Easter the easterbunny (he’s a hare, at least in Dutch) would scatter some eggs all over our garden and we (my siblings and I) would go out and look for them. There were two types of eggs: the ones I would eat, and the ones I wouldn’t eat even if I’d be tortured. The first are chocolate eggs, and to me, there never were (or are) enough chocolate eggs around Easter. The second would be boiled eggs. And to me, there are always way too many of those, not just around Easter. How can a sane human being eat a boiled egg? That’s what I’ve asked myself for most of my life. I don’t get it. Poached eggs aren’t much better I’m afraid.

After the whole egg search was over, we would go inside and have breakfast. The table was set with all kinds of lovelies, it was a very festive breakfast. There would be a bowl of boiled eggs and there would be a chicken (wow, that chicken, sweet memories) filled with chocolate eggs. I would silently eat one (or maybe two) slices of bread, and then I would ask my mother nicely if I could start on the chocolate eggs. She never said yes. Before I could eat something sweet (including chocolate spread on my bread) I had to eat a boiled egg. It was torture. In my tiny brain I had two options: eat the boiled egg just like my siblings, and then start on the chocolate eggs (until my mother would intervene and say that it was enough, unless… and there was something more about boiled eggs), or not eat the boiled egg and watch my entire family eat chocolate egg after chocolate egg. Trust me, to a child, that is a very simple choice: two types of tortures, and only one included eating some chocolate eggs myself.
Eating the boiled egg was a real challenge, I hated the taste, I hated the texture, I hated the smell (I still do), and it would take forever. But I managed. And I ate at least one boiled egg a year.(Oh, and they were hard boiled, which is the worst, especially with the blueish yolk. I understand that for preservation’s sake (they were in the garden after all), you can’t serve moderately boiled eggs, but the memory itself is traumatic. Who knows how much therapy I need now that I remembered the blueish yolks?)

My father, on the other hand, was an avid egg-eater. He ate them boiled, fried, scrambled, poached. Anything would go for him. He was one happy egg-eater! He never did anything in the kitchen, except bake his egg for Sunday lunch every once in a while. And he would lovingly bake some bacon first, throw on lots of herbs, top it off with cheese, he was a happy man!  And everytime he was making himself an egg, he would say that one day, when he was young and naive and stupid, he thought he’d write a cookbook on how to prepare egg in one hundred different ways. ‘Or a thousand’, he’d say when he added just a little bit more salt. Because one period in his life, he’d lived on eggs. He didn’t have anything else.

It’s a bit strange to have that as my father and not really like eggs myself. But there you go, I don’t. But there are exceptions. And today I will give you the recipe of the most brilliant way to scramble eggs. Because I love them this way. I could live on eggs for quite a while like this. I change little bits of the recipe every time I scramble some eggs, so can you!

Ingredients:
1-2 eggs per person
half a table spoon red pesto (which contains tomatoes, I use Bertolli)
grated cheese (as much as you like, probably around 150 gram in my case)
250 gram diced ham, bacon or chicken
bit of salt
3 sun dried tomatoes (don’t overdo it, those can be really quite distinctive in any dish)
herbs (lots of herbs, I use this pre-mix of Fair Trade (which is a Dutch/Belgian brand, the mix is called ‘Sun dried tomatoes’), with: sun dried tomatoes, black pepper, garlic, red onion, paprika, olives and basil, it’s gorgeous!)
pepper
some olive oil

Put meat  in frying pan and fry until done. add eggs, wait a while and then add herbs, salt and pepper and stir until the eggs are solid. Add the pesto, sun dried tomatoes (yes, I add extra, can’t have enough tomatoes), stir some more. Add the cheese when you’re happy with the scrambledness of your eggs. Let the cheese melt completely, while stirring. I always add a truckload of cheese, I love it nice and cheesy =D (but remember: cheese is bad, it contains a crazy amount of calories and it’s not so good for your cholesterol. I don’t really mind, I’d rather die of a heart attack because of scrambled eggs, than be entirely miserable for the rest of my life without them!)

How local?
Eggs: 2-5 km
cheese: 50-100 km
pesto: is ‘Italy’ vague enough? It’s about 1500 km from my house anyway (if this Bertolli-plant is located in the north of Italy)
ham: no idea? Should be Dutch though, about 200 km?

 

Snert January 8, 2010

Filed under: cooking,main course,meat,soup,vegetable — orangepumpkin @ 21:28
Tags: , ,

‘Snert’ is a beautiful Dutch word and it’s powers are very underestimated. It can be used as a bit of a cute swear word (resembling ‘shoot!’) and as such it is also used to describe the weather (‘snertweer’), which generally means it’s raining cats and dogs, there’s a huge storm and you freeze to death if you go outside. But mainly ‘snert‘ is pea soup (erwtensoep). And the perfect weather for that kind of snert is now. It’s really cold, and it has been cold for quite some time now. Almost all open water is frozen and lots of those ponds, ditches and canals are suitable for skating! So, all the people in the Netherlands grab their Unox tuque (hey, that’s what Wikipedia says is the proper translation for ‘muts‘), retrieve their skates from the attics or basements, put on an extra layer of clothes, and off they go. I remember that as a kid we used the nearby nature reserve (it was strictly forbidden to enter because of the wildlife, I got in serious trouble once during summer for trespassing) which had a little pond (to me it was a lake, but now that I’m a grown up I know it was a pond, and quite little to anyone’s standards). It was bustling with people, there was a snack stand, there were lights for late night skating, and there was music (played quite loudly). But only if there was ice. All the locals would drag their (unwilling) families to the ice rink and we would skate like there was no tomorrow. I hated skating, I was so terrible and I fell a lot. In some very sarcastic lapse of judgment some guy invented ice. While doing so he thought of the specifics of ice and he said to himself: it has to be cold, really bloodcurdling cold. And he asked himself: what else could I make this ice be that is so horrible to little girls when they’re learning how to skate? Ah yes, it has to be rock hard, so that when they bounce their little girly bottoms on the ice when they fall, they feel as if they’re bums are frostbroken off! I was the most unlucky sod in the entire universe, because I didn’t generally fall on my tiny behind. I fell on my knees, my arms, my shoulders, my hips, anything but the one place I might have grown some fatty tissue, and especially those places where there were lots of bones sticking through. I was a big fan of the snack stand, though. And I would spend my entire savings of the previous year on candy my mother never bought me. I ate Mars bars, Nuts, Raiders (now they’re called Twix, so cruel!), Snickers, anything sweet and chocolatey.

When after a day of skating and falling we (my siblings and I) would come home to the warmth of the kitchen, my mother would, like all good Dutch housewives, have a pot of steaming snert ready. Snert is what you eat when it’s super cold, and you’ve been out and about, suffering. And don’t you dare eat snert without rookworst!

Today I’ve been out and about, not really suffering, but I thought snert would be a good meal. I’m not suffering much because I have the greatest outdoor jacket for extremely cold circumstances. It’s meant for skiing, but honestly, it’s great when you’re cycling through cold and freezy Holland (ok, I don’t live in Holland, but for the sake of things I’ll just imagine I did today). I also have skiing gloves. I have a wool tuque (come on, muts is a great word as well!), I have a nice shawl and I put on an extra layer as well: I tucked some nice tights under my trousers (also made out of wool). The first ten minutes or so I’m a bit cold, but then I’m warming up (cycling is hard work) and after another ten minutes I have to start taking things of, I open the zipper of my coat, I take off my gloves and sometimes I end up looking like I forgot to put on anything warm and cozy. I use skiing equipment because that does the trick quite nicely. My friend always uses clothes meant for horse riding. She’s actually quite good at horse riding, so she’s a legitimate owner of that kind of equipment. I don’t really ski. I love it, but it’s like ice skating. I suck. I get downhill quite quickly, but not really in a way that looks like skiing, it’s more bum-sliding with skis on. Quite artistic if you try to do it intentionally, but I’d rather be standing up. But what can I say, I’m a natural, you might even think I have thing for frozen water.

About the snert: it has a great subtly distinguished taste. It’s not too outspoken, and it’s generally soft and easy on the taste buds. Well, it’s not really easy on the taste buds if you’re way to hungry to wait a few seconds. It stays hot for a longer period than the average hot substances and you might want to take it easy for the first few bites, or you’ll end up with a burning sensation in your mouth that prevents your taste buds from tasting anything. Which might be just what you’re looking for, but I wasn’t intentionally setting out to burn my gums and tongue. But I did anyway. The beauty of life, eh?

Ingredients

250 g split peas
1 big carrot (winterwortel/winterpeen)
1 leek
1 onion
1 potato
1 L water
2 bouillon cubes
100 g celeriac
100 g bacon
150 g pork chop (or basicly any kind of meat that can be cooked, usually a cheap type of meat is used)
(1 rookworst -if you can get any and if you want to-)

Wash the split peas and cook them in 1 L of water with the bacon and pork for 60 minutes.Cut up the vegetables vegetables and add them after the peas and meat have been cooked for 1 hour. Also add all the other ingredients. Let it cook for an additional 30 minutes. If you want to include a rookworst, you also want that in for the last 30 minutes. Take out the big pieces of meat, cut them up in smaller bits and put them back in (leave the rookworst out). Take your stickblender and get at it. It’s ok if it’s not completely smooth, but you should get most of the texture out, including the meat. Slice up the rookworst and put it back in. Serve!

How local?
peas: 100-200 km
celeriac: 50-100 km
carrot: 10-50 km
bacon: 10-50 km
onion: 2,5 km
garlic: 2,5 km (I had some garlic in it too)
leek: 10-50 km
potato: 10-50 km
rookworst: 100-200km (if not even further away)

I did pretty local, didn’t I? I bought my veggies at an organic supermarket (they only sell organic stuff) and they had tags at every veggie saying where it was from. For the snert I only bought vegetables from the Netherlands. Oh, and they sold avocados from Spain, so I might not have to move to Peru after all =D. Next to this supermarket is an organic butcher, he only sells organic meat, and they know everything about the meat they’re selling. They might even know the name of the cow or pig that you’ll be eating. I only bought the bacon there, but I’ll definitely return to buy some more great and local meat!

 

My favourite spices January 6, 2010

Filed under: cooking,spice — orangepumpkin @ 21:57

I decided that I should make a list of spices that I love and use (a lot).

  1. Salt. Sea salt, though I’ve learnt that ‘sea salt’ is an empty shell. I have a grinder and apparently the big grains of salt that go in there are actually mined in Italy from mountains. Maybe there used to be some sort of sea there, but it’s more likely that it’s not. But still, I prefer grinding salt over dishes than using a pre-grinded small grained salt from a dispenser. That feels wrong. Probably because it has healthy amounts of iodine in it. Who knows how crazy I will go anytime soon because I lack iodine in my diet?
    Salt is my number one, not because I eat very salty, but because I use it in almost every dish. Even when I’m baking cookies. Salt is needed in almost all kinds of food, and I couldn’t live without it.
    Sometimes ready bought foods have way too much salt in them. That, I don’t like. I’m not a big salt-eating monster. So when I made a terrible cook-up of some Nigella-cookies I made (Nigella Lawson) and they were salty beyond salty, I died. I threw them out which made me die some more. The thing I did wrong was measure the baking powder I added to the mixture. I added way too much and it all went wrong from there.
  2. Zongedroogde Tomaat Mix (sun dried tomato mix) from Fair Trade. It contains sun dried tomatoes, black pepper, roasted garlic, red onion, bell pepper (paprika, come on, that’s one hell of a great word!), olives and basil. This is the one herb/spice mix I cannot live without. I put it in/on everything. I would throw it on my pound cakes if I thought the rest of the world would think that made me the most brilliant person ever to have lived (I think the rest of the world would lock me up in a psychiatric hospital, so I don’t actually do it). I use it on all of my soups, my pasta, my pasta sauce, eggs, vegetables. Oh, and most importantly: on my super sandwiches. The day this mix isn’t available anymore, I’ll be so depressed they’ll have to start making it, only for my sake. It’s so stunningly tasty, I just don’t get how other people keep breathing without it.
  3. Chives. But only freshly cut from the garden (which I don’t have, so I work with dried chives at the moment). I’ve always loved chives (and onion and garlic, but I’ll post about that someday, if I have the courage), and I still like eating it straight from the garden. It’s perfect in almost any dish, but I love it in salads. Oh, what would the world be without chives? (Really, I do need to lecture you on that, because the world would be an intolerable cruel place without any member of the onion family)
  4. Oregano or Marjoram. They’re virtually the same. This is another herb that I actually put in almost any dish I make. I’m not discriminating here, and it works out just fine. It’s lovely in almost any dish, so why not? And I also really love it fresh. You can even add it to some fresh tea. I think I’d have trouble being without this one, too.
  5. Black pepper. In a grinder. This is on every dish too. I wouldn’t die without it though. I’d be ok. And another pepper I really love is chili. That’s bound to give your taste buds a kick in the nuts, and every now and then, that’s just the way my taste buds like it. Oh, and bell pepper, I use the powder of red bell peppers in, yes, every dish. I can’t help it, I’m weak, I’m probably just a one-trick pony. So yes, the world wouldn’t be the same without pepper(s), it would be terribly boring!
  6. Italian mix. This is a mixture of all kinds of herbs and since I should have been born Italian, I put it in almost every dish, too. Yup. Even the Dutch dishes. I spice them up with this. What’s in it? I have no idea, but I’ll check the label: marjoram, oregano, rosemary, basil, thyme and savory.
  7. Basil. Oh, my. Yes, basil is inevitable. And yes, that too, goes on practically every dish I make. Either as dried basil, or fresh basil, or pesto. And why not? It’s quite nice with virtually everything, but it’s especially brilliant with tomatoes. Nothing with tomatoes in it, is being served without basil. Not in my kitchen!
  8. Cinnamon. Ok, that’s not on every dish that I make. Simply because tomatoes with cinnamon are disgusting. But everything with cinnamon in it, is a sheer delight to my sensible taste buds. I love cinnamon cookies, I love apple pie with loads of cinnamon, I love pear with cinnamon. So thanks to the Dutch guys who sailed around the world and brought home this extraordinary spice, I get to have cinnamon and love it until the day I’ll die.
  9. Thyme. I’m always surprised at how the smallest hint of thyme can change something from ‘nah, not sure’ to ‘OMG, superb!’. It’s magic and I love it!
  10. Fresh mint. Ok, this, I don’t use in almost all dishes I produce. It’s simply too dominant a flavour to be good in every dish. But the world would not be the same without fresh mint tea. And I really need a garden or just a balcony to grow some of these fantastic herbs!

I do realise that most of these mixes have lots of the herbs that I’ve named separately as well. Sometimes I actually do add both to a dish, but usually just the mix OR the separate herbs.

 

Red beets January 1, 2010

Filed under: cooking,main course,vegetable — orangepumpkin @ 20:02

Ok, so I have this thing for red beets. I love them. Which is strange. I like other things grown underground (carrots for instance), but genetically I was supposed to be allergic to red beets. One of my parents hates red beets. ‘They taste of soil, yuck’. Though none of these sentiments were uttered when I was young and had to eat what was in front of me (or at least I don’t remember). But now, it’s nothing but that kind of thing. I empty the bowl of beets while the rest of my family eat meat. It’s a fair deal really.

So, when I shopped for tonight’s dinner and I saw these two adorable red beets lying among all the other locally grown vegetables, I took my two adorable red friends home. A few years ago I prepared a dish with fresh beets as well, and I remembered the cooking time to be about 20 minutes. But I wasn’t sure. So I googled, you know that’s my thing when I need immediate answers to any of the existential questions in my life. Including the time it takes to cook beets. When I didn’t find the answer within 5 seconds (all recipes found used pre-cooked beets, readily available at any supermarket). I boiled water, threw in the beets and set the timer to 20 minutes. In the mean time I chopped up onions and garlic, I dug up my biggest frying pan.

20 minutes later I took the beets from the pan and I scraped off the skin. So far everything was as I’d remembered from two years ago. When they’re cooked, beets just shed their skin when you gently brush your fingers over them. It might clog your sink, though, but it’s really easy. You cook them in their skin to preserve the taste, which is majorly important, of course. I ended up with a pair of red hands, and I kind of looked like I’d just murdered someone. Technically I had, I’d murdered beets.
Anyway, I went on my merry way and chopped the beets in squares, while I fried the onions and garlic. Then I threw in the beets and fried them for a little as well, mainly to heat them up again, because rubbing of the skin when the beets are hot, that’s no fun. I added some nuts and a bit of sea salt and then I put the contents of the pan on a plate.

I sat down and felt really happy with myself. You know, I can cook! Something went right here. Then I took the first bite. And you know what? I hated it. The beets weren’t quite cooked well enough. And they tasted of the soil they grew in. Yes, dear self, you have managed it again: another cook-up added to the history of cooking. Thank you and goodbye, I’m going to wonder if I’ll ever learn something regarding cooking, or if I’ll just take a take-out membership at McDonalds. At least it’s edible.

I’ll spare you the recipe. I plan on cooking beets again (oh no, no, no, no, don’t do it!), and make a very nice beet & chicory salad. I’ve made that before. Including cooking the beets myself. I can do it. And even if I can’t, I have to keep trying, because one day, sometime, I will learn. And I will cook my own socks off (without lighting the place and burning the food). One day I’ll be a proper housewife and I’ll be able to make something quite edible, something you could actually serve other people. And it won’t be pumpkin soup (I’ve proven time and again that I can make pumpkin soup, but if that’s all there is to my cooky repertoire, well, that would be extremely sad, wouldn’t it?)

Local? Yes, very local!
Beets: 2,5 km from my house
onions: 2,5 km
garlic: 2,5 km
oil: yeah, we’ll talk about that later. It was probably flown in from Antarctica and they probably killed a hundred innocent baby seals in the process, but I refuse to feel guilty for now! (It was vegetable oil, so no, I didn’t eat baby seal oil with my beets, I’m not that cruel)