After the darkest day of the year, one can’t help but feel a little brighter. I took advantage of the day to (appropriately) finish up changing my name on nearly all my documents and accounts and such. To burn bright in 2014! That is my mandate, my motto, my personal crest, my raison d’être, my challenge.
Perhaps I should invest in a fire extinguisher.
I’ve been cooking, and anticipating with great joy my Polish Christmas for One. The theory is to spend far too much time making a miniature version of the 12-dish meatless, fish-heavy Wigilia. It’s a celebration of being able to cook whatever I want and eat when I want, delighting in the pleasure of being alone and unfettered and ending the year without any more terrible disasters. Hope MUST return, I’ve decided, if only in one-week increments.
Please note the celebratory aspect. It is far more disturbing, I’m discovering, for others to envision me spending Christmas alone than for me to live the reality of it. Christmas has always been a quiet affair in our house, involving a break from elaborate dinner parties or socializing or social media or work. And this year will be no different. It will just be fancier with Polish dishes and calmer without arguing and more grey and fluffy and energetic and bitey and jumpy and maniacal.
I’ve got salt herring and pickled herring and gravlax. I have beet kvass souring for borsch, and yellowfoots for mushroom pierogi, dilled sauerkraut for braising, fresh sweet cabbage fermenting with apples, carrots, and cranberries, and apple butter for a miniature cake, and grains for kutia. There’s vodka and a bottle of good dry Riesling. I’m still working on the rest. There will be a little fish, ridiculously complicated, or maybe a crab. Or oysters?
This pretty and simple warm salad, made with my own parsley and parsnips freshly dug from Tell Tale Farm, is in his honor, as it tastes of our Willamette Valley earth. The secret is in roasting the parsnip batons separately from the beets with nutmeg and ginger, so they can get crispy and caramelized.
Warm Roasted Beet and Parsnip Salad
- 3 beets (candystripe or other light-colored ones that won’t stain and mute color of parsnips)
- 1 parsnip
- olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
- handful of fresh parsley
- fruity vinegar (homemade raspberry vinegar, if you have it; I used my foxy grape-star anise vinegar)
- Equipment: 2 roasting pans and foil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Scrub beets well, cut in half or quarter if extra large, and place in one roasting pan. Toss with a glug of olive oil and some salt until well-oiled. Cover pan with foil and roast in oven until easily pierce-able with a fork. (40 minutes? Depends on the size of the beets.)
Peel and cut the parsnip into small batons, and mince ginger. In a second roasting pan, and toss with a glug of olive oil, salt, and powder well with a good strong shakes of nutmeg. Roast uncovered in the oven with the beets until browned and crispy. (15 minutes?)
Chop parsley and set aside. Remove parsnips from oven when done and leave uncovered and unrefrigerated.
When beets are done, remove the foil and let cool until you are able to handle, then peel off skin with a paring knife. Slice beets and place in serving dish. Toss with a good splash of vinegar and some more olive oil, then add parsley, parsnips, and perhaps a little pepper.
Serve while still warm. It makes a great light supper dish for one with some feta sprinkled on top, or a side dish for sausages or pork chops for 2-4.
Separate Two Eggs is my new, very occasional, series about a lonely single woman eating sad meals alone. Or not. It’s really just a way to continue to queer food writing to add diversity to the Mommy-blogging and monogamous couple-oriented fare (not that there’s anything wrong with that).