Not My Mom’s Harvard Beets … green tea with pomegranate … featured poet, Myra Schneider

My mom loved Harvard beets, which she prepared using canned beets.  Actually, not bad, but I always have to play with my food and how wonderful to play with fresh sweet and earthy jewel-toned beets.

It’s too hot to use the stove or oven, so I microwaved the beets this evening, setting the scrubbed whole beets in a covered dish with a few spoons of water.  Depending on the size, they’re done in 10-15 minutes. Once cooked, it’s easy to rub skin off under cold water and then dice the beets into a serving dish to cool while adding delicate slivers of red onion.

Dressing: 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 3/4 olive oil, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard or to taste, salt to taste. Whisk together in a small bowl and use to lightly dress the beets and some greens. Neither should be swimming in the dressing. Layer the beets over the greens and top with crumbled blue cheese or feta.

A fruity Green Tea with Pomegranate seems to go well, iced in this case with a spritz of lemon.

© 2017, post and photograph, Jamie Dedes


And now, today’s featured poet, the award-wining Myra Schneider …

ROOT VEGETABLE STEW

When dark nights eat up afternoons
I sweat onions in sunflower oil,
weigh out carrots, a swede,
and tapering baby parsnips
with old-age skins on flesh
that fattened underneath the light
in a cradling of clay, grit, stones.

I take the swede, a misshapen globe
marred with scars, cut it in two.
The apricot bulk makes my head
hum with summer. I slice up
the snow-white parsnips, then tip
lentils, seeds of a butterfly-
petalled plant, into the pan.

Opening the door to throw peelings
in a pail, I bump into snouting cold.
It smells of woodsmoke, bites
as I stare at the park bristled
with black. Frost is stiffening leaves,
grasses, and I feel myself woven
to this land’s Saxon past when winter

was a giant who trampled crops in fields,
snuffed breath with icicle fingers –
though this was not the country
of my forbears, though rootlessness
was a wound I bore till turned thirty,
I was warmed enough by love
to put down roots in myself.

When chill sinks its teeth in my ribs,
I retreat to the stove, dip a spoon.
The heat-swollen lentils are melting
among the hulking vegetables,
and yellowbrown as November woods.
I add lemon and fried spices,
stir them in, ladle the stew.

© Myra Schneider (Shared here with Myra’s permission)

Myra Schneider’s latest and recent books are Persephone in Finsbury Park (SLP), The Door to Colour (Enitharmon); What Women Want(SLP). More at Myra Schneider website where you can also order Myra’s books.

HERE is a wonderful interview with Myra on the occasion of her 80th birthday earlier this year. Who wouldn’t want to gather and savor the voice of so much experience: thirteen collections of poetry, children’s books, author of Writing My Way Through Cancer and, with John Killick, Writing Yourself: Transforming Personal Material. Myra has collaborated on more anthologies than I can count, is a poetry coach and champion of women poets, a consultant to Second Light Network of Women Poets and a poetry editor.  Myra’s professional life seems like it is and always has been quite full and busy. Yet along the way – even when coping with catastrophic illness – Myra is able to take a breath, pick up her pen and inspire.

 

Spinach Pilaf (Spanakorizo); featured tea, camomile; featured writer, Katherine Mansfield

“How little I thought, a year ago,
In the horrible cottage upon the Lee
That he and I should be sitting so
And sipping a cup of camomile tea.”

Camomile Tea, Kathrine Mansfield

A calming herbal tea, camomile, and a nerve-steadying and calcium-rich Greek spinach pilaf makes a lovely lunch. Greeks love their camomile, and I’m told and have read that in Greece many like to collect wild camomile.

BICI Glass Teapot, Hand Blown Borosilicate glass, Stovetop Safe, Removable Stainless Steel Infuser and Flip Top Lid, includes an Infuser Saucer. 40 oz (4-5 cups)

Camomile Tea

Preparation:

Bring hot water to a roiling boil. Water should be at 183 degrees fahrenheit for tea. Pour some of the water into your teapot and swirl to warm the pot. Place one heaping teaspoon of  dried chamomile per cup into your teapot. Add boiling water.  Put the cover on the pot and allow to steep for five minutes.  I like it plain, but if you care to sweeten it with Greek Honey.  

Gluten-free Spinach Pilaf, Spanakorizo

The recipe:

Serves two as a main dish

1 pound of organic spinach*

1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh, sweet butter

1 medium onion, peeled and sliced thin

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/4 cup of Lundberg Short Brown Rice, uncooked

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1/4 teaspoon each dried dill and dried mint

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Put the spinach in a drainer and rinse it thoroughly several times with cold water.

Put the olive oil and butter in a pan that is large enough to hold the spinach.  Over a low heat slowly brown the onions. When the onions are ready (golden), toss in the garlic and give it a stir or too. Add the spinach to the post. Cover the pan and cook until the spinach wilts, which will take about five minutes. Add the rice, tomato paste, the seasonings, and 3/4 cup of water. Stir well, bring to a boil, cover the pan and lower the heat.  Simmer for about one-half hour or until the rice is tender.  Serve hot with the crumbled feta on top.

Some fresh peaches or a fresh fruit salad would make a nice light desert.

We should only buy organic spinach. They’re on the Environmental Working Group’s list of the dirty (from too much pesticide) dozen.  I believe that list is up to fifteen now.

Photo: cup of tea with flower courtesy of Ekaterina Sysoeva, Public Domain Pictures.net

KATHERINE MANSFIELD (1888-1923) was born in New Zealand and eventually left to live in England where she became friends with well-known writers of the day.  She lead rather a bohemian life, was influenced in her writing (short stories) by Chehov, and wrote some poetry as well.  She died young of TB and as far as I know, a good body of her work was published posthumously. Katherine has been the subject of several biographies and movies. Katherine Mansfield’s Selected Stories is recommended.

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