Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Aunt Sally's Side Dish

On these gray winter days, you gotta add all the color you can, whether it be in bright placemats and napkins, or bright food on the plate - or both. 

Last year, my Aunt Sally Hyland passed away. She was 98 and had had a good, long, happy life. While we will miss her, we are grateful for her life.  She was always kind to me and my sister - she even hosted Nancy's wedding in Washington, DC while my parents were stationed in Japan. 

She was a California girl, born and raised, and she always made the most wonderful tossed salads filled with all kinds of unusual things (in those days) like marinated artichokes, tangy pickled beets, and big, golden-green chunks of avocado. Sally was the personification of the old-fashioned term, "homemaker," and she was the best one I ever knew.  She knitted her kids' sweaters, cooked like a dream, and even waited to do dinner dishes until the next morning when all were at work or at school so she could spend her evening hours with her family. She was plump and pretty, with soft, unlined skin to the end of her life, and sparkling eyes.

She surprised us once at dinner with purple cabbage sautéed in bacon fat. I think she added bacon bits, too, but I didn't have those when I was deciding how to add some color to our dinner, so I just used the bacon fat I had in the fridge.

This isn't even a recipe, really. You just melt bacon fat in a wide pan over medium-high heat and sauté thinly sliced or shredded cabbage in it for a few minutes. You want the cabbage to retain some crunch, so it only takes a short time. The taste is nutty, the color is gorgeous and the bacon fat gives it another layer of flavor and a little richness, which is always welcome on a gray day.  Nothing exciting, perhaps, but very welcome on these chilly winter evenings.

Every time I make this, I give a little nod to Aunt Sally.

4 Comments:

Blogger Greg said...

Bacon makes it better!! :) BTW loving that place mat,

Tuesday, January 15, 2013  
Blogger nancy namaste said...

I love beet salad. It's perfect for this time of year as it's colorful and loaded with vitamins; the small bits of bacon only make it better.

This is a wonderful recipe that comes from the cookbook "Aromas of Aleppo." The most important flavor in this recipe, and most exotic, is the sour taste of tamarind paste; pomegranate syrup would also work, but not the sweetened juice. This ingredient can be found in some health food stores and in Middle Eastern and Indian markets. I have substituted lemon juice for the tararind and liked it even better but then, I really like a sour taste:

2 pounds of beets, boiled and skins removed
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs tamarind paste (or more fresh lemon juice mixed with unsweetened pomagranate juice)
1 teas ground cumin
1/4 teas cayenne
salt to taste
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 small red onion, chopped

Cut beets into 1/2 inch cubes.
Make the dressing by combining olive oil, lemon juice, tamarind, spices and salt. Mix well.
Pour the dressing over the beets, then add the parsley and onions and stir.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013  
Blogger nancy namaste said...

Or this one- Turkish rather than Syrian.

2 medium size beets
1 cup yogurt (better to use strained yogurt)
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp finely chopped dill or 1 tbsp basil flakes
salt and vinegar to taste

-Wash beets well, cut the stems, and boil them for ~25-30 minutes until cooked.
-When they cool down, peel and grate them. (While doing so, use an apron and gloves if you wish and don't wear white)
-Beat garlic, yogurt and olive oil in a bowl until smooth, and then mix with beets.
-Season with salt and vinegar

-Sprinkle dill or basil on top.
-Serve with bread, pita chips and / or as a side for red meat dishes.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Greg, we love those, too - so bright for the winter weather!

Nancy, thanks! I got some beets this week at the farmer's market, so I have some of the makings for a beet salad that I saw recently on a menu - beets, feta cheese - sounds like a good mixture.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013  

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