Heirloom Beet

One Saturday I woke up with a hankering for fried green tomatoes, which I haven’t had in years. So I stopped by my local farmers market to see if I could find some, and while there, I could pick up other veggies. I headed to Wild Miller Gardens stand, from Lee. He has a really neat stand.


His veggies are so nicely displayed.


He did not have any green tomatoes so I bought a box of the small red cherry tomatoes for a salad. Now tomatoes were not on many menus in the 18th century, yet I wanted them. And you’re probably wondering why I call this blog heirloom beet. Often we find our path diverted, and come up with a new experience. Looking over the other produce I spotted some nice colored beets. Joel told me they were Golden Beets.  My husband doesn’t like the earthy flavor of red beets. He says they taste like dirt. I, however, love beets.  So I thought I’d try the golden ones and I bought a bunch. The Golden Beet is a form of the early blood turnip beet, beta vulgaris var. crassa. The yellow form of the blood beet, generally known as Yellow Turnip-Rooted or Orange Turnip-Rooted, It is sold today under the name Golden Beet.

Beets are a root vegetable and easily stored over the winter, many colonists considered it an essential winter food, especially during the infamous period known as the Six Weeks of Want, when most stored vegetables were used up and planting had not yet begun, so back to the 18th century. Thanks to many local farmers, we are able to purchase heirloom produce, many times grown organically as our forefathers and mothers did.


I sliced the beets and then cut them julienne style. Nice thing about the color of the beets is that they don’t turn your fingers purple. On my way home from the market I stopped at a farm stand, and they did have green tomatoes, and I came away with two big firm green ones. Now I made a plan for dinner.

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We had striped bass, kindly given to us from our friend Bob, who had been out on the sea fishing and was luckily and skillful enough to catch a few. I decide to fry everything and have a nice salad on the side.

Allan used fish fry for a coating on the fish and I used a beaten egg and bread crumbs on the vegetables. Then I made a great salad. When everything was done we went off to the porch to have our dinner and watch the antics of the hummingbirds at the feeder and the American Goldfinch splash in the fountains.

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The compound salad was dressed in my favorite homemade dressing of olive oil, white balsamic vinegar with garlic, salt and pepper and beau monde whisked together to a tasty emulsion. This was the perfect side dish to a fried dinner. Bob’s fish came out superb, I love striped bass. The meat was a happy medium between flaky and meaty and had a mild, delicate, slightly sweet flavor. The fried tomatoes had a tart flavor with a hint of sweetness that I love. I really should have them more often. Now I was not prepared to find that the beets had such a sweet flavor. It was like eating candy. I wanted more and more. And Allan likes the beets!!! Yea, one more vegetable to add to his short list of those he will tolerate. I will be buying more golden beets from Joel that’s for sure. I may even try to put some by in the root cellar to see how long I can keep them.


“Breathe properly. Stay curious. And eat your beets.” 
 Tom Robbins

Artificial Walnuts

The fortune cookie, as we know it, was invented for the San Francisco World Fair in the early twentieth century. Our Artificial Walnut predates that by about five centuries. Made in wooden molds with the imprint of the shell and the kernel, the sugary treat must have delighted both the old and the young. Filled with comfits of candies, caraway seeds, or filled with a motto or saying inside, it was like opening a treasure box.


The 1655 receipt from the A Queens Closet Open’d, is our basic gum paste recipe that we now use for decorating cakes, this has the addition of rose water for a pleasant taste. My forms are from the House on the Hill.  I added cinnamon to the paste to make the shell dark and left the kernel off white. They were fun to make. 


I let them dry overnight and stuck them together with more gum paste and then tied a ribbon around them. I left a few kernels out and filled one shell with candied caraway seeds for the Kitchen talk. They are pretty little things, and, when I have time, I’ll make more and put them up in tins for a special occasion.


I’d like to pickle real green walnuts next.  Anyone know of a walnut tree near Portsmouth?


Cinnamon was so highly prized among ancient nations that it was regarded as a gift fit for monarchs and even for a god.