Last week, I was visiting with my sister at her new home in Washington DC. She lives near the Eastern Market which describes itself as “DC's destination for fresh food, community events, and local farm-fresh produce and handmade arts and crafts.” We had a lovely afternoon, starting with a cup of specially blended tea and a slice of almond cake, then sampling foods and buying treats for dinner. Our menu for the evening ended up including:
Wild boar pate served on sliced zucchini (instead of crackers). Amazing flavors of ham and spices, well supported by the crispness of the zucchini.
Handmade fresh lamb and rosemary sausages – straight from the Harvey’s Butchers (I swear, no family relation). Harvey’s sells meat from pasture raised animals that don’t need antibiotics or hormones to be fantastically tender and tasty.
Roasted brussel sprouts from a local farm.
Roasted pickled cippolini onions (see recipe below). These were bought at the Asian stand, which sold many many varieties of pickles from traditional kimchi to fennel and apples. The saleslady recommended roasting them with butter and a drizzle of maple syrup. I added beets, as you’ll see in the recipe below. Prettiest thing you've seen in a long while, and super tasty (even for those who don't like beets).
This kind of shopping makes me happy. Getting to talk to vendors who truly care about their product and want to share their passion with others is the beginning of a great meal for me. I love sampling things, trying different flavors, and getting new ideas. I find a sense of community in farmers markets and a closer connection with the source of my food. Eating is one of the primary ways we interact with the world. I want my nourishment to be holistic - a full body, mind and spirit experience.
I am VERY grateful for is having a healthy relationship with food these days. I’ve discovered that nourishing my body also supports mental acuity (brain fog, any one?), emotional balance, and a feeling of connectedness. A few years ago, I had pretty much gotten to the point of hating food, because it felt like everything either made me fatter or sicker. Now, after a lot of research and trial and error to find what works for my body and my schedule, I really love cooking, and look forward to eating. It brings me joy, instead of angst.
As you approach Thanksgiving and the rest of the winter holidays, I hope you are able to spend a few minutes connecting with the possible joy in gathering, preparing, and sharing food with people you care about.
Roasted Cippolini Onions and Beets
For two people:
A handful of cippolini onions (These are small, purple onions. If you can find them pickled all the better, but it works well with raw onions as well)
Handful of small beets (the smaller they are the sweeter they are. About 1 to 2 inches in diameter is good for this recipe.)
5 Tbls butter
2 Tbls maple syrup or honey
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the butter in your baking dish and put it in the oven to melt the butter.
While the butter is melting, peel the beets and onions. Chop the beets into bite sized pieces if necessary.
When the butter is melted remove the pan from the oven. Toss the beets and onions in the melted butter and drizzle with maple syrup.
Bake for about 30 minutes, stirring about half way through.
Save the maple beet syrup to mix with vinegar for an amazing dressing!