Anne Bean

I make delicious words. // I make words delicious.

Tag: vegetable love

Pruning

I was out working in my garden yesterday, trying to get it semi-tidy before the autumn rains set in. I know it’s still August, but the chilly wind and low-angle sunlight made it feel like fall. (Fall and spring have always been my favorite seasons. Thus me moving out to the Pacific Northwest rather than Colorado, wherein fall and spring are each one week long.)

Anyway, I did some much needed pruning and brush-clearing in my large and absurd yard. And thoughts bubbled up in my head, like they do when I’m doing repetitive physical activities (Julia Cameron calls them “Artist Brain activities”). I was thinking about how well writing practice and gardening parallel each other. Gardening in the Pacific Northwest is easily a year-round endeavor. (Unconvinced? Check out this, the most awesome PNW veggie gardening book ever!) Writing is a year-round endeavor. Both have seasons of more intense labor. Both require daily maintenance for best results. Both can be kept up surprisingly well if you spend half an hour every day at them*. Noveling is more like upkeeping the whole damn yard: epic, takes a long time to come to fruition. Short stories are like container gardening: attention must be paid to each plant’s exact location. Poetry is like bonsai: every twig matters.

Now, with this beautiful metaphor and all, there comes reality. In reality, my morning pages** are like the stack of unturned compost in the corner of my garden. The chaos that is most of the overgrown herb beds is like my novel draft. The two functioning (ish) vegetable beds are like the chapters I’ve revised. For both my novel and my garden, it’d help if I really did work on them daily and keep the big picture in mind.

So, the nice metaphor is not necessarily ruined by the desiccated wasteland that was my lawn and the undealt-with piles of branches from my pruning efforts…neither my novel nor my yard are particularly well-maintained at the moment. And that’s okay. Because I’m working on both of them. Every damn day.

*Writing advice from my two favorite writers:


"30 minutes every day. Every damn day!" -Terry Pratchett

"And finish things. Then start new things. Then finish them..." -Neil Gaiman

**I write brain drain journaling for half an hour every morning. Julia Cameron calls them “morning pages.” They are important. Now, if I could manage to work on the novel for half an hour every day too, then that’d be closer to Terry Pratchett’s plan.

Beetsperiment the First

On Sunday, I went to the Farmer’s Market in Ballard and bought $10 worth of fresh and hopefully delicious beets. They’re fairly late-season beets, but they still looked pretty good to me.

There are red Detroit beets, golden beets, Chiogga beets, and a “Cylindrical beet” shown here.

I decided to use one of a few different kinds for some very simple salad. Beets are pretty, seductive, and I feel a little bit like a serial killer when I cut them up, at least the red ones. They are not a vegetable to be taken lightly, it would seem.

I cut up a few and used the beet-roasting method out of The Joy of Cooking, i.e. put them in a dish with about 1/4 inch of water in the bottom and cover them in foil, then bake. It resulted in the water turning a lovely shade of crimson, and actually smelling pretty good.

Then I rubbed off the skin of the beets with a paper towel and chunked them up into chunks. I like to cook and I love food; I am not a chef. I couldn’t tell you which is bigger, dicing or chopping or cubing. I have never worked the bits of food service where you learn useful things like chopping stuff up real pretty.  Thus, chunking.

I combined the beet chunks with a lovely vinagrette made of olive oil, orange juice, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper.

Chia Obama approves.

Chia Obama approves.

My opinion: It was fairly delicious! The citrus complemented the beets very nicely, and the flavor of the beets themselves was less like a kick in the face and more like a gentle hair-tousling. Pickled beets are a little too intense for me. These were lovely.  At least one other person agrees.

I have another salad recipe that I am eager to try later this week. If you, dear internet, have any beet recipies, I would love to experiment with them.

Good omens…also, beets.

It was a sunny day in Seattle. I spent much of the afternoon wandering around the streets of Ballard possessed of that psychotic happiness and goodwill that comes from sudden sunlight after too many gray skies. I smiled at people. Sometimes they smiled back, with eye contact and everything. There was a man who wished me a Happy New Year. This is pretty remarkable for Seattle.

Were I a superstitious person, I’m sure I could find meaning in the following things I saw today:

1. A tree full of bikes. Okay, it was “full” of three bikes, an adult sized one and two children’s bikes. I am eager to check back and see what it looks like in the spring.

2. A man walking a cat/cat walking a man. The two were connected by a ten foot piece of twine. I couldn’t tell who was leading whom.

3. A typewriter on the sidewalk, tragically too waterlogged for me to salvage.

I’m not sure what all of that means. I’m sure there’s a story hiding in there somewhere.

In other news, I’ve been trying to figure out what vegetable I will be purchasing and doing terrible experiments with cooking in the upcoming week. Beets, perhaps. It’s a vegetable I’m not entirely familiar or comfortable with, having never really eaten them growing up. I think it was a vegetable neither of my parents liked particularly. In any case, I think my only real interactions with beets until I moved out were occasional awkward trysts at salad bars in restaurant. And my third grade science fair, of course. One of the girls in my class did a project about how many beets you had to eat before you turned your pee red. The answer? About four, canned. She had jars of her pee on the table with her project. This was just weird and licentious enough to cause much comment and ruckus among the lower elementary population. As I recall, she was not so daring after that in her endeavors, at least not that I could see. I find that a bit tragic, and hope that she has regained some of her beet-pee brazenness. We should all be so daring.

A final and much beloved word about beets, courtesy of Tom Robbins in Jitterbug Perfume:

“The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is the more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.”

And thus it is so.

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