Never straying too far from me, he sits at the kitchen table while I prepare dinner. His little hand still trying to find a good grasp on the pencil. With a blank sheet in front of him, he creates entire worlds on this humble piece of paper. World after world. Sheet after sheet. I kneel down in front of him and he shares with me where he’s traveled in such a short time…and, I am inspired.
Inspired by a Salad of Golden Yellow Beets and Brilliant Green Arugula
February 18, 2010 By 20 Comments
My appointed date in the “Blog-It Forward Mashup” has arrived at which time I am to share with the world what it is that inspires me. Thank you ever so much to the infinitely kind and talented, Victoria Smith, of the alway inspiring blog, sfgirlbybay, for organizing all 300 of us. The darling artist, Ariel, of La Petite Sirène passed the torch to me and I send it on its way to beautiful, Christine, of Lavender and Limes who will be sharing her musings with us on Monday. Thank you to all of you who have taken the time to stop by La Pomme today. I am ever so grateful.
I am greeted by some morning light. A welcome respite from the grays of winter. The children are still sleeping. The house is hushed. With a hot cup of tea next to me, I flip open my laptop and click on my bookmarks. The list drops down. Across the world and back I go, as I click on my favorite “weblogs”, one after another. I find myself swept away by the talent, the creativity, the inspiration. Encouraging me with their photographs, their artwork, their writing, their nuggets of knowledge. The food they prepare. The recipes they share. The stories they tell…and, I am inspired.
I watch him from afar as he nervously taps his foot and unconsciously drinks his water…every last drop of it…before the game begins. I think about what he said to me. About how, “Mom. Everyone is sitting there…in a line. Watching me.” I see his coach motion to him. Time to go in. And then, there he is. On the court. All of that nervousness disappears. It’s just him and the ball…moving in this beautiful rhythm up and down the court…and, I am inspired.
I set the finished book down on the forever-growing pile with a sigh. My eyelids are so heavy and yet, sleep eludes me. I think about where I’ve just traveled in my mind…a different place, a different time. Strangers I’ve come to know as neighbors. Friends. I think about what it means to truly be courageous. Not in the “conquering kingdoms” sense of the word but as one human being having compassion for another. I think about how the author has gently lead me in this direction…and, I am inspired.
I hear the announcer call out the next performance. I sit in the darkened room…waiting. I flashback to when she was 8 or 9 on-stage. When she knew all of the steps but her face wore a look of panic as she performed. The lights go up and I see her sweep across the floor and then, up into a grand jeté. I watch as her body becomes the artwork for the music. Her face, so full of emotion…and, I am inspired.
I have been dressed in grays and blacks and browns…for months. Perhaps I’m trying to coordinate with the sky. The landscape. The ground. I’m ready for some color. I need some color. So, with camera in hand, I set out to find some. And there, curled up ever so tightly, in a bud that will soon come to life, is a hint of pink. The sun, low in the sky, gently warms the tiny bud…and, I am inspired.
He’s there on the stairs. Clean-shaven and ever so handsome. He flashes one of his smiles at me. My heart aches his smile is so beautiful. With a quick kiss to everyone and a “Have a great day!’, he’s off. Off to work…just as he does everyday. Even the days he’d rather be at home. With us. And yet, he goes. For him. For me. For us. Because he cares…and, I am inspired.
Here in the depths of winter, when there’s not an open farmer’s market to be found and I’m about out of ideas for meals made from canned goods and squash, a dear friend comes through town. The kind of friend who’s known me so well, for so long, that we’re starting to resemble each other like an old married couple. A gift she has in tow for me. Ivy Manning’s, The Farm to Table Cookbook – The Art of Eating Locally. I flip through her tantalizing recipes organized by season. The helpful tips. The gorgeous photos lovingly taken by her husband. And there, in the section on winter, a flash of yellow catches my eye. That desperately needed color. Golden Beet Salad with Blue Cheese and Walnuts. My mouth waters just thinking of this melding of flavors. The creamy cheese with the spicy arugula. The sweet beets with the more pungent walnuts. A perfect winter medley…and, I am inspired.
Golden Beet Salad with Rogue River Blue Cheese and Walnuts
Inspired by Ivy Manning’s recipe in The Farm to Table Cookbook
Now, I’ve taken the liberty to change a few of the items from the original recipe out of personal preference. After all, if a girl knows what she likes…well, she’s got to go with it. I used olive oil instead of the walnut oil originally called for because it’s what I had on hand. I also swapped out the balsamic vinegar for sherry vinegar out of preference and because I had some on hand from this recipe. Balsamic vinegar tends to be a little bit too syrupy for me on salads but I know that I’m probably in the minority here so do as you please. I’ve talked about Oregon’s unbelievably delicious Rogue River Blue Cheese before here, but if you aren’t able to get it where you live, any other soft blue cheese will work. Enjoy.
8 to 10 ounces (1 1/4 pounds with greens) small golden beets
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar or sherry vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp finely minced shallots
3 tbsp walnut oil or olive oil
6 oz (or 4 handfuls) arugula or other baby greens
2 oz Rogue River or other soft blue cheese
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted (for the “fyi” on toasting see this post)
optional: thinly sliced red onion
Preheat the over to 400 degrees. Wash the beets well and remove the greens and stems. Place the beets in a small baking dish and toss with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes or until a knife easily goes through the largest beet. Remove the dish from the oven, carefully peel back the foil, and add the water; re-cover and set aside.
Combine the vinegar, sugar and shallots in a small bowl. Gradually whisk the oil to make an emulsified dressing.
When the beets are cool enough to handle, slip off their skins with your fingers and cut them into 1/2-inch wedges. Toss them with the arugula and enough dressing to coat the salad. Divide the salad among 4 plates, sprinkle with the blue cheese and walnuts (and red onions, if you like) and serve. Mmmmmm…..
Yield: 4 salads or salad fixings just for me to savor over the course of four days….
All original text and photographs copyright: Carrie Minns 2009-2010