Last weekend, friends were about and we went to the market and I made lurid bicoloured salad for the ballgame and it was all good. With pictures and a recipe.
Friends · We had friends in the house almost continuously between Friday afternoon and Sunday evening, old members of the markup tribe and in parallel some of the boy’s cronies. Right now, with the professional situation lousy and some recent family stress, this is the Right Thing To Do. Thanks to Eve and Kim and Peter and Jaclyn and Dijon and Sam and Sebastian and Leo for the company.
The Market · Sunday morning dawned cold, wet, and grey. So we went to Granville Island for good things to eat. It’s expensive but a morale-booster, and on these winter days, the hanging lamps casting pools of brightness on the goods for sale and faces surrounding them are pure visual drama and I just can’t stop taking pictures. I lack the courage to be a real street photog, but I end up taking interesting people just by pointing the camera every which way.
We were walking down one of the narrow crowded aisles and voice boomed “You touched it, rules say you have to taste it!” I’m not sure what Eve had touched, but we all ended up in the merchant’s jovial spell, sampling the wares of Oddball Organics.
These are hot-pepper-enhanced garlic sauces, and the tastings climbed the spice ladder: Garlic Nectar, Nasty Nectar, Nuclear Nectar, and Tongue Twister. I got off after the second rung, which had me reeling, but then I’m a hot-pepper wimp. The vendor was a showman; I enjoyed the show and bought a bottle of the entry-level Garlic Nectar. Still noticeably hot on the tongue, and very tasty.
The Game · I’m talking about the Grey Cup, of course, and it was a barn-burner this year, the final minutes holding the attention of some who normally tolerate rather than enjoy football.
Yes, you can say that Saskatchewan threw the game away, but to be fair, Montréal climbed off the mat and put themselves in a position where a Riders mistake could do the trick for them, and mistakes happen.
I enjoyed the contrast with the Super Bowl, chiefly that the crowd seemed in large part comprised of ordinary CFL-fan people; and thought the half-time show from Blue Rodeo was rousing and heartfelt. Sometimes being Canadian can make you happy.
Food · For dinner after the game, Lauren fixed up a nice stew. I’d volunteered to take care of the veggies and had noticed we had some beets in the crisper. (Note to Northern-hemisphere types: Antipodeans find it weird when we talk about the red underground part of that plant without saying “beetroot”.)
Then at the market, one of the veggie stands had golden beets, which I’d heard of but never eaten. So, I consulted several recipes, ignored the universal advice to put walnuts in the salad, and improvised the following, which worked well enough to deserve a name:
Oddball Beet Salad · The ingredients are red and golden beets in roughly equal proportions. I used three big beets and a couple of smallish ones and there were still leftovers after five adults shoveled them in while making enthusiastic noises.
This is a marinated salad, so you need to make it several hours before you’re going to want to eat it.
Cut off the beets’ tops and bottoms, wrap ’em in aluminium foil, and roast them at 400°F. The recipes I looked at suggested an hour, but the big beets turned out to need another fifteen or twenty minutes.
After they’re roasted you can shuck off the skins, I used an ordinary dull table knife to help. Since they’ve just come out of the oven, you’re going to need to use a dishcloth or something to hold them. If there are spots or icky bits just dig ’em out, rough or uneven finish isn’t a problem.
Cut ’em up into salad-sized pieces. At this point, your kitchen will start to look like where an axe murder just happened.
My marinade had only four ingredients: White-wine vinegar, lemon juice, caraway seed, and Oddball Organics garlic nectar. Generous, roughly equal, proportions of vinegar and lemon juice, somewhat less nectar, and more caraway seed than you’d think; it’ll soften away to nothing during the marination.
Make enough marinade to get it all wet, toss it up, cover it, and ignore it for three or four hours. You want it to be chilled to serve, so if you’re in Canada and it’s November the thing to do is put it out on the back porch. If you’re in a hot climate either your fridge gets a workout or, even better, make the salad the day before, it ages very well, and cool it on the counter.
Before you serve, pour off the marinade that will have collected at the bottom. Try to find a colorful blue or green serving bowl to set off the startling red-and-yellow of the beets.