Greens with pine nuts and roasted beets

Greens with beets and pine nuts

Greens with beets and pine nuts

“In such a world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people, not to be on the side of the executioners.” – Albert Camus.

Today was a sad day for justice in America, a heartbreaking leap backwards. I’m sure that wiser and more articulate people than me will discuss it at great lengths, and I hope that before long a change will be made, we will have a new verdict, and we will have the kind of peace that can only come with justice. So today’s Sunday interactive playlist is on the subject of justice. Cries for justice such as Peter Tosh’s Equal Rights or stories of justice gone awry, such as Bob Dylan’s Seven Curses. If you can think of songs about justice being correctly meted out, those would be more than welcome, but I declare that I’m too saddened and discouraged to think of any at the moment!

And a recipe to go with our playlist, because even on a day such as this, we need to keep our strength up and nourish one another. Beets and greens, beets and greens. It’s been that kind of spring. This is a variation on my favorite dish, which is greens with raisins and pine nuts. Instead of raisins, we have lovely little sweet morsels of roasted beets. I used garlic scapes because I had them, but you could use regular garlic. I flavored this with fresh sage and rosemary from the farm. And I used chard and beet greens, but you could use spinach, kale, or even collards, if that’s what you’ve got. If you use kale or collards, you’ll want to parboil them for five or ten minutes to soften them up.

Here’s a link to your interactive playlist. Please add what you’d like, or leave a comment and I’ll add the song.

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Golden beet and pine nut purée

Golden beet and pine nut purée

Golden beet and pine nut purée

It’s my birthday!!! AAARRGGHHHH! And I’m only telling you this because…I’m telling everybody! I’m like a little kid when it comes to birthdays. Except that I’m not, really, I’m the exact opposite. I overheard Isaac telling Malcolm, “Mommy doesn’t want it to be her birthday,” which as a birthday-obsessed seven-year-old is a concept he can’t fathom. It’s not the birthday itself I have a problem with, of course, it’s the getting older part that’s hard, that’s putting me in a blue mood. I was thinking the other day that I might come across as a somewhat cheerful, hopeful person, here at The Ordinary. In truth, I’m a moody old cuss. I’m discouraged by the strangest slightest things. And it might seem like I’m a patient mother, but I yell at my boys more than I thought I ever would, and I’m short-tempered with them sometimes even when they’re sweetly trying to get my attention to tell me nice and funny things. Sometimes I just want some quiet to think my own thoughts. Sometimes I just want to look out the window. And my boys don’t like all the weird food I make, though they are almost always kind enough to taste it. They don’t always eat healthy meals, sometimes I just let them drink sugar water, not because they’ve persuaded me that they’re part hummingbird, although I might believe that, but because I’m powerless to stop them because THEY DON’T LISTEN TO A WORD I SAY! And I do genuinely want to love and care for all people, like Alyosha says to do, but I have a noisy foul-mouthed inner misanthrope fighting to get out. I do honestly believe that success should be measured not by good grades or a big salary, but by how happy you are with what you do, day-to-day, and by the way you make your life as creative as possible in all the small moments, and how you notice and remember everything. But I get in foul moods when all I can think is “everything I’ve ever tried to do has failed.” And where am I going with all of this downwardly spiraling self-pitying birthday confessionalizing? I dunno. I think I want to tell you that I woke up this morning and my foolish birthday blue funk had lifted. I feel sanguine and hopeful. I have a lot that I want to do–small things and big big projects, and I feel excited about trying, whether or not they get done. I feel happy about thinking about them, even just thinking about them. I feel good about writing, just writing, whether anybody reads it or likes it doesn’t matter, I feel good about putting thoughts in order, and stringing words together, and surprising myself with all the odd phrases that come out of my constantly surprising mind, which you think I’d know better after 44 years of constant company. Last night in the car I had thought myself into a despondent mess, and Isaac said, “Mommy!! Guess what? Somebody’s being born, somebody’s being born, somebody’s being born, somebody’s being born, somebody’s coming home, somebody’s coming home, somebody’s coming home, somebody’s coming home, somebody’s sleeping, somebody’s sleeping, somebody’s sleeping, somebody’s sleeping…all over the world, right now!” And this morning Malcolm gave me a birthday letter that began “Have you ever wondered how the earth was created, God or science?” and ended, “P.S. Are crab apples edible? Because Charlie likes them and I want to try.” In the face of all of this blissfully cheerful existential information, How can a person stay cranky for long? Well, she can’t, and I won’t.

Beet greens with golden-beet pine nut sauce

Beet greens with golden-beet pine nut sauce

Golden beets, man. They’re pretty! And so darn tasty. We got some more from the farm, and I recently went on a ridiculously indulgent birthday shop and bought pine nuts and all sorts of other pricey items. So I decided to make this golden beet and pine nut tarator sauce. It’s got grated toasted beets, sage, rosemary, pine nuts, garlic, and a bit of balsamic. It was very tasty and surprising. Moreish, as the British say. We dipped fresh sweet peas in it, and crackers, and then I mixed it in with sauteed beet greens. It would be good with roasted vegetables, or tossed with pasta, or as a dip for chips, or any other way you can think of using a creamy flavorful sauce.

Here’s Big BIll Broonzy, who has a birthday today, too, playing Hey Hey, which I know I’ve posted before, but, hey, it’s my birthday!
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Roasted beet, arugula and goat cheese tart

Beet, goat cheese, and arugula tart

Our little garden is so wild and tangled at the moment. We didn’t grow much, just herbs and a few peppers and two pretty bull’s blood beets. The herbs have all gone to seed, and curl around each other in a crazed tangled web, which catches Clio as she runs through the garden, to emerge the other end with herbaciously scented paws. David brought the beets home in spring, tiny and pretty, with shiny deep red leaves. I was going to use them then, in a salad, and I did pick a few baby beet leaves. But then I thought I should wait, and save them till they were more fully grown, and the beets were bigger. Of course it’s hard to tell when a beet is ripe, because it’s underground. So I kept waiting and waiting, watching the leaves get longer and thicker, watching the beets themselves swell out of the ground. And still I didn’t want to use them too soon. I wanted to save them for something really special. I do this with all sorts of things! People will give me blank notebooks, and I’ll set them aside until I have something really important to write. I buy vanilla beans, from time to time, and save them to make some remarkable dish, only to lose them in the cupboard. I’m like this with ideas as well – I’ll have a good idea for something to write, or a film to make, and I’ll set it aside till it’s just the right moment to act on it, only to lose it in the giant dusty cluttered room that is my head. I’ll find it in a dream, maybe, tucked away in some dim corner of my mind. But this past week, looking over the decadent mess that my garden had become, it became very clear to me that it was time to pick the beets. And they were lovely! A bit past it maybe, but so pretty inside, with rings of pink and rings of scarlet. I think my new motto will be EAT THE BEET!! Seize the moment! Don’t save it for a special day, because the very act of eating it will make a day special.

I wanted to do something to showcase their prettiness, so I roasted them and set them on top of a tart. I used the red leaves to color the custard. If you have regular beet greens, I think they’ll still work in this, but the custard will be greenish instead of pink – which will also look nice with the beets! I think the combination of roasted beets, arugula and goat cheese is a classic one, and that’s what we have here.

Here’s Pete Rock with What You Waiting For?

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Beet & goat cheese roulade filled with greens and pinenuts

Beet roulade

I’m feeling a little dull and blue today, for no reason whatsoever! It’s a funny thing about feeling blue, because it’s not really a bad feeling, as I use the term. It’s a contemplative, slightly melancholy feeling. But there are so many shades and moods of blue, and I love them all. Tintin blue is one of my absolute favorite colors – bight and clear. Bill Traylor’s high singing blue is exhilarating. Midnight blue is deep and mysterious. Indigo is dark and rich. Sky blue is light and floating. Flame blue is like a flickering soul or spirit. Vein blue is alive and poignant. Musically, the blues put you in a mood, but it’s not a depressed mood. A little sad, maybe, but joyful, too, just because they exist. To shake the dullness, I thought I’d post a few dancey scenes. Dancing always livens the party! There are so many good ones, and here are few of my favorites.

There are so many! I could go on and on and never stop! What are some of your favorite dance clips?

You know what else will cheer you up? A bright pink and green pinwheel! This roulade was very fun and easy to make, and tasted delicious! The roulade itself was like a big fat pancake (it’s actually closer to a flatter soufflé!). It was sweetish, because of the beetish, and a little tangy with goat cheese, and lovely and summery with thyme. The filling used the greens from the beets, in combination with some chard (you could use any green you like!) and was a nice savory contrast to the roulade. Pine nuts add a bit of smoky crunch. The nice thing about the roulade is that it’s very good at room temperature, so if you don’t want to heat your kitchen up before you eat (on a 100 degree day, say) – make this earlier in the day and set it aside till you’re ready! We had it with a no-cook sauce of tomatoes and avocados, chopped chunky-style, and tossed with olive oil, basil, and balsamic. Add a salad of crisp arugula and crunchy hazelnuts, lightly dressed with olive oil, sherry vinegar and some crumbled goat cheese, and you have a perfect summer meal!!

Here’s Jackie Mittoo and the Soul Vendors with Love is Blue.

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Greens, potatoes, & tomatoes AND patatas bravas with almond aioli

Patatas bravas

My friend Laura recently posted a picture of her son jumping into a swimming pool. He looks wonderfully happy, as boys do jumping into swimming pools. You can see his shadow on the water. He’s in the air! I love photographs like that – especially old, pre-digital photographs. How thrilling it would be to get your photos back from the lab, or develop them yourself, and find this impossible shot in which you’d captured someone that you love floating in the air. Your dog, leaping happily. Your child, jumping from one thing to another, so proud of their ability. Children love to be off the ground, between one thing and another, dizzyingly suspended between worlds – jumping on a bed, jumping into water, jumping from a tree branch. It feels like capturing an ecstatic moment. In Charles Burnett’s remarkable movie Killer of Sheep, there’s one beautiful scene that shows children jumping from rooftop to rooftop over head. The whole sequence is one of the most striking I’ve seen on film. And Mos Def used a still from the movie for the cover of The Ecstatic! It’s such a perfect picture for a perfect title for a perfect album that I can’t really add anything! People and animals in mid-air! Photos that capture youth, and happiness, and motion – they catch time while it’s passing.

There’s something very summery about the photos, maybe because, like summer, they seem to last forever and they’re over in an instant. If a recipe can capture a moment of summer, and I like to think that it can, surely it would have tiny potatoes and tomatoes and basil! And here we have two very easy, very summery side dishes. One is straight out of the CSA box – beet greens, chard, green garlic, tomatoes, and tiny potatoes. Is there anything more pleasing than small potatoes, boiled whole, and tossed with butter and herbs, and seasoned with salt and plenty of pepper? We used tarragon, because it’s nice with potatoes and we have it growing in our garden. But you could use any mix of herbs you like. This is a good way to use up the beet greens when you make beet dogs. I used a mix of beet greens and chard (very pretty, both!) and made a quick summery sauce of fresh tomatoes, basil, and garlic. While it’s hot you toss it with boiled potatoes, little cubes of mozzarella and pine nuts. The heat from the greens melts the cheese, and it’s all very nice. The other dish is my version of the Spanish tapas dish patatas bravas, which is crispy potatoes over a spicy tomato sauce, topped with garlicky aioli. Ever since I made almond aioli, I’ve wanted to try it with this, and it turned out really good! I made a slow-cooked tomato sofrito as the base, and you can use fresh or canned tomatoes for this.

Here’s Faye Adams Shake a Hand, from Killer of Sheep.
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Grilled vegetables and pecan tarragon sauce

Roasted beets & mushrooms

We’ve been watching the Olympic trials at work, on a big television above the bar. The sound is turned all the way down, and for some reason, in this way, it becomes the most beautiful drama. The expressions on the athletes’ faces are so raw and honest – pure, distilled emotion. It reminds me of silent films, when the actors’ gestures and expressions had to tell the story, except that this is entirely unstudied. It’s hard to tell at first who has won and who has lost, because the faces are oddly similar – anguished, ecstatic, exhausted. Their faces are like children’s faces in delight and sorrow – undulled and unguarded. It’s very emotional! I have to stop myself from getting weepy right there at the host stand! I love the idea of working very hard for one thing, and putting so much emotion and energy into it. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately – it’s good to have a grand project in your life.

When I was little we lived in England one summer, during the Olympics. To my shame, I remember being actually bewildered that the announcers spoke more about English athletes than Americans. Didn’t everybody in the world care more about our superior American athletes even than their own? Didn’t they? Heh heh. With independence day drawing on apace, it’s probably a good time to examine our place in the world as Americans and as human beings. Luckily for you I have to go to work in a short while, so I’ll talk about grilling vegetables instead. We grilled beets, mushrooms, and potatoes. Of course you could grill any vegetables you like, but I recommend this combination. The beets and mushrooms have a nice juiciness, everything is crispy, earthy, smoky and delicious. I like a simple marinade for grilled vegetables. Olive oil, vinegar, fresh herbs and garlic. I added some nigella seeds because I just got them for the first time and I’m very excited about them! But if you can’t find them you could live without. We also sauteed the beet greens with some chard, and I used zatar spices, because I just bought sumac, and I’m very excited about that, too!! And the pecan tarragon tarrator sauce is a lovely, creamy, vegan, subtly flavored sauce that goes very sweetly with the earthy grilled vegetables. Malcolm ate his grilled vegetables on toast, and he made it into Darth Vador’s Tie Fighter. (serving suggestion)

Beet tie fighter


Here’s a little film of Louis Armstrong playing Stuttin with some Barbecue, and dancing with Velma Middleton.

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