Sunday, March 20, 2005

Sunday Rambles

This lovely Spring afternoon the Clog-wife and I took a slow walk through the woods along Bolen's Bluff, on the south rim of Payne's Prairie south of Gainesville, FL. The trail loops through upland flatwoods and mesic hammocks to the edge of the Prairie, a 21,000 acre expanse of open marsh and swampland.

We took a side trail at the Prairie's edge and discovered an 8' alligator up in the woods. The beast was freshly dead and had a length of rope constricting its neck. Blowfly heaven in a State Preserve created by the illegal and senseless act of a species of human I'd sooner were extinct. Like the Great Dodo.

There were yellow-rumped warblers everywhere, as well as all the commoner birds we're accustomed to. But I did observe two species with the binoculars that I hadn't a good look at before: savannah sparrow, and yellow-throated vireo. We also got a good close look at a palm warbler and a small catbird that didn't seem nearly so shy as others I've encountered.

Sunday Recipe Blog: Beet Trifecta

I bought a bunch of freshly pulled beets from Freddy Wood Saturday morning and came up with 3 dishes:

Pickled (Harvard) Beets
Remove the leafy tops from 1-2 lbs beets and set aside for Beet Greens and Baby Beet Greens Salad.
Wash beet roots well and cook in a pressure cooker for 8-10 minutes.
Trim and peel cooked beets, reserving 1 C of the cooking liquid.
Dice or slice peeled beets into bite-sized pieces and set aside.

Pickling syrup
Combine 1 C distilled white vinegar, 1 C cooking liquid and 1 C sugar in a saucepan.
Bring to the boil over medium heat.
Stir in ½ tsp ground cloves.

Canning Beets
Pack beets to within ½” of the top of a sterilized wide-mouthed pint canning jar.
Ladle in hot syrup to just cover beet pieces.
Cover with a sterilized lid and ring.
Place sealed jar in a covered large pot and 1” of water, and boil for 15 minutes.
Remove jar and let cool. Check seal, tighten ring, and save for another day.

Fresh pickled beets
Place remaining beet pieces in a glass bowl, cover with remaining syrup, cover with lid or plastic wrap and chill for 24 hours. These beets can then be eaten immediately, and will keep for several days in the refrigerator.

Beet Greens
Sort beet leaves by hand, separating mature leaves from the baby leaves.
Discard leathery, discolored, or insect-damaged leaves.
Save aside baby greens for Baby Beet Greens Salad.
Remove purple stalks from mature leaves and discard (they’re full of sand in these parts).
In a large stalk pot or wash basin rinse leaves repeatedly until no sand, mud, or debris remains in the rinse water.
Chop leaves coarsely and steam for 10 minutes in salted water.
Drain and serve, with a little butter, salt, and pepper, if desired.

Baby Beet Greens Salad
Wash baby beet greens well in very cold water.
Place in salad dish and garnish with Pickled (Harvard) Beets and quartered hard-boiled eggs. Top with a mild dressing. I like a creamy Vidalia onion – cucumber dressing purchased locally.

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