38 recipes down, 198 days to go
Friday, November 13th.
Dinner last night was roasted beet salad with hazelnuts, thyme and balsamic reduction and Brussels Sprouts Salad with Lime and Miso. Both were simple, relatively straightforward recipes on their own. Combined at the same time: absolutely hectic.
I didn't mean to make them on the same night. But when it was 8pm, Thursday night that I was finally able to order groceries, plans change. Especially if the plan was to make the beet salad for dinner Thursday night. Whoops! No option for same-night delivery.
Like I would even attempt to make it that late.
I made a "rule" of writing my post right after making/eating each recipe. However, last night I just couldn't fathom typing even a word in the glare of my computer.
I am sick and tired of screens. I could just scream. I CAN'T STARE AT A SCREEN ANYMORE!
Adding to the point, my sleep has been absolutely terrible this week.
Monday night: I stayed up writing the post for the soup and went to bed at 10:00 pm.
Tuesday: I stayed up cranking out the last paragraph of my history essay due at 11:59 pm that night. I went to bed at 10:30.
Wednesday: I stayed up reading and annotating a document for history. That damn history again. I went to bed at 9:30.
Thursday: I stayed up ordering groceries. It was 9:30 lights out.
Some of you might be thinking, what do you even mean girl, you go to bed so early!
Hmmm. In a perfect world I would be going to sleep before 9pm every night. It's this thing called life THAT MESSES THAT UP. I mean... who even has time to sleep. There is sooooo much to do.
When I had finished eating dinner at 9:05, I decided to stretch—a very blessed activity to my achy body. Can I just mention that my back always hurts these days. Something about sitting staring at a screen for so long. Being able to spend 15 minutes stretching was amazing. I actually felt good afterwards.
This is all why I'm writing this post now, at 2:30 in the afternoon on Saturday.
roasted beet salad with hazelnuts, thyme and balsamic reduction + balsamic reduction (a seperate recipe) + Brussels Sprouts Salad with Lime and Miso
Oh She Glows + The First Mess
Friday afternoon it rained. A blessed thing. There's something about the pitter pattering of tiny little droplets that's soothing.
At 6pm I wrapped the beets in foil and put them in the oven. The beets needed to cook a looong time, between 45 and 90 minutes, "until a fork easily slides into the largest beet." The beets my shopper picked for me were on the small end of the spectrum. I should mention that I had a lot of fun trying to decide the right weight that would equal 5 to 6 mediums beets (called for in the recipe). Fun might not be the right word. Painful. I was going back and forth between 1.5 or 2 lbs. I decided on 1.5. And turned out I got 6! So that was pretty good.
I thought that 45 minutes would be enough time. After 3 consecutive failed fork testings, 60 minutes was the magic number.
By then I had already trimmed, quartered and cut the brussels sprouts, and put them in the oven to roast.
I have a big love of brussels sprouts; they are one of my favorite vegetables. I like them a touch crispy, but not completely charred, so they are soft, but still have a little bite to them. The brussels sprouts were roasted perfectly to my liking!
I had a pleasant surprise that 1 pound of brussels sprouts is not that many. Less prep work!
Oh and before I put the brussels sprouts in the oven, I had started the balsamic reduction which basically involved the slow simmering of 1 cup of balsamic vinegar, for 20 to 30 minutes, until it had reduced to 1/3 cup. I was warned to "keep an eye on the vinegar to avoid burning it." Burning it was not a stressful thought.
Not at all.
Really, all the steps in both recipes were simple. Keeping track of everything, and timing everything was what made this evening stressful.
Yes. It was stressful.
With everything in the oven I had to make the dressing for the brussels sprouts salad, and chop the fresh mint and basil for topping. I know I've mentioned that I despise herbs. But actually, they are getting much easier to deal with. What can I say? Practice.
I almost forgot to toast the hazelnuts—for the beet salad, and the sunflower seeds—for the brussels sprouts salad.
I made up the brussels sprouts salad first, pouring over the dressing, diced avocado, herbs, and sunflower seeds.
I didn't even get to taste this salad hot! By the time I was done arranging the beet salad, the brussels sprouts had lost their heat. That was a disappointment to Laura Wright's descriptory recipe notes, "I make a few versions of this salad which capitalizes on the interaction of the hot Brussels sprouts and dressing." Bummer. She also writes, "I could eat this whole recipe by myself with ease." I didn't get that experience either. I ate the beet salad as a starter. And holy moly are beets filling. I ate a little of the salad only because I felt obliged to try it after I had spent all that time making it.
Really, I didn't do this salad justice. But it was good. Avocado does not last well. I ate the leftovers of this salad for lunch today, even with brown avocado. It was still good. I most definitely want to make this recipe again, and taste it hot next time! Though, that won't be anytime soon seeing the whole other load of recipes I have still to make.
I had to wait awhile for the beets to cool until "cool enough to handle." They were still steaming when I unwrapped them after 20 minutes. After the aluminum foil was removed they cooled of quicker. After I trimmed the ends I was supposed to "push the beet skins off with your fingers." A very forceful pushing was required here to get those damn skins off. The finger-nail marks in the first beet marked my frustration. The second beet was easier which was a good thing since I might just have got up and quit otherwise. I tried using my right hand to push off the skin on one beet, which failed. I had to use the fingers on my left hand for the pushing and my right hand for holding. Pushing around the beet—in a circle—turned out to be the most efficient method. By the third beet, my fingers had gone completely numb. The whole time, cold water was running.
I have a lot of respect for cooks who do this work all the time.
After the beets were de-skinned, it was on to slicing them. I was so tired by then, I'm afraid that my slicing skills were below par. It was probably also due to the slipperiness of the beets that no two slice was the same thickness.
All that was left to do was arranging them on 4 plates. And scattering on the hazelnuts. And drizzling on 4 tablespoons of balsamic reduction (total), and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. And finally, scattering on the leaves from 8 sprigs of fresh thyme. Getting the leaves off was painful.
I would like to express my praise of balsamic reduction. After it had cooled, it became a wonderful, glaze-like texture. And it was super sweet! I licked my fingers of it, it was that good. I now have a little container of it left in the fridge, which Angela Liddon says will keep for up to 1 month! Fabulous.
I am excited to try topping all sorts of things with it...
With everything done, all four beet salad plates made up, and the brussels sprouts salad set to serve on the table; I was so proud. Also exhausted. And not that hungry—surprisingly. It was around 8:30 by then.
Should I mention that I had planned for everything to be ready at 7:30? Well, you already know how that went.
The beet salad was amazing. Bloody juice practically oozed from the beets. They were super soft—soft enough to cut easily with just a fork. And there were so many nice flavors to this dish. I loved the hazelnuts, balsamic reduction, and thyme with the beets. I gobbled up my whole plate, despite my lack of hunger. This "comforting" salad was described as a "lovely starter to any fall or winter meal."
It most certainly was a lovely starter, that satisfied my appetite entirely—that poor brussels sprouts salad didn't get any love.
This was just so incredibly delicious! Who knew beets could bring so much to the table?