I’ve Moved!

This blog has been re-christened and moved.

Follow my new adventures at: Lemon Caper

Sweet Spring

It’s asparagus season! That means it’s early Spring, and the buds on the trees are unfurling, the branches are in bloom and I get caught up in all of the fresh new produce I’ve been askewing since autumn.

Here’s a poem to put you in the mood:

“sweet spring is your
time is my time is our
time for springtime is lovetime
and viva sweet love”

(all the merry little birds are
flying in the floating in the
very spirits singing in
are winging in the blossoming)

lovers go and lovers come
awandering awondering
but any two are perfectly
alone there’s nobody else alive

(such a sky and such a sun
i never knew and neither did you
and everybody never breathed
quite so many kinds of yes)

not a tree can count his leaves
each herself by opening
but shining who by thousands mean
only one amazing thing

(secretly adoring shyly
tiny winging darting floating
merry in the blossoming
always joyful selves are singing)

“sweet spring is your
time is my time is our
time for springtime is lovetime
and viva sweet love”
-e.e. cummings

Once upon a time, I was an English major thinking that I would pursue an academic career. Those plans fell through, but I still love poetry and narrative. I would rather sit and read or listen to a story than do just about anything else. I often think in couplets.

This Easter Sunday, I celebrated Spring with a meal of fresh asparagus and peppers and wild caught salmon. I try not to eat meat very often, but when I do it’s imperative that the animal lived a wild or at least a “free” life. I’m willing to pay extra for that peace of mind. I wanted to usher in the new season with fresh vegetables at their peak and the bright colors and flavors of the sunny season.

For this meal, I took 3/4 lb of salmon and sprinkled it with smoked salt, dried dill, a few pats of butter, and the juice of one lemon. Baked at 475 for about 10mins. I sliced the asparagus and yellow bell peppers and dressed them with olive oil, sea salt and thyme. The vegetables were then pan sauteed while the salmon baked.

Salmon is my go-to quick and healthy dinner and it pairs so well with tender crisp asparagus.
Here’s to beginnings.

Sweet Beet Relish



I’m back in the kitchen after a week of lounging, going out on the town and taking care of a million  errands that I otherwise can never seem to find time for (eye exams, cleaning out the broom closet, buying new shoes, etc.) It occurred to me that while I call this blog “The Sweet Beet,” there has never actually been a beet recipe posted. I’m thinking of changing the name sometime soon, but before I do, here’s another ode to the beautiful beetroot.

Pickled beets are one of my favorite snacks. The brilliant vermillion color of the beets, dressed in a tangy brine brighten up salads, rice dishes or meat entrees. Try beet relish on your next hotdog or hamburger, or if you’re veggie, on a nice broiled portobello cap.


Sweet Beet Relish

      • 1-2 pounds of beets, boiled, peeled and diced. I think pre-cooked beets work just fine. Avoid canned beets.
      • 1/2 cup orange juice
      • 1/2 large red onion, finely diced
      • 1-2  tbsp  pickling spices (or a mixture of mustard seed, juniper berries, clove, thyme and bay.
      • 2 tbsps  brown sugar
      • 1 tbsp salt (pickling salt or sea salt is fine)
      • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
      • Cracked pepper to taste

Put all ingredients into a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 20-35 mins until liquid had evaporated. Taste. You can make the relish sweeter or saltier if you like.



The end result is a tangy, delicate condiment. I love the soft texture of the beets and their earthy flavor. They go well with a creamy goat cheese, or brie. I like to enjoy this relish on toast with tea, but straight out of the bowl is good too.



I’m on vacation, well actually it’s a staycation. Most of my vacations from work have involved travel over the last couple of years so I am ready to just relax at home for a week. I’m lucky to live in a city perfect for staycations. Chicago has everything I could possibly want. The weather can be extreme and not very pleasant but this past weekend has been the warmest March on record and it feels like June, which means I’ve been out and about as much as possible.

I’m afraid I’ll be out soaking up the sun for the next few days instead of working in the kitchen. I do plan on trying my hand at homemade seitan this week, and maybe taking on a pastry or two. Until then, here are some photos from a recent excursion to Chicago’s Lincoln Park:

This little meerkat was posing for the camera.

Your’s truly.

Lastly, here’s the one food shot I took all weekend: a fuzzy photo of the cookie case at The Swedish Bakery in Andersonville. I picked up a couple of cupcakes here and they were amazing. I ate them before I could document their glory.

Well, time to get back to staycationing!

My Kind of Caviar

These beautiful little jewels are beluga lentils. Protein packed, easy to cook, and uncannily similar in appearance to caviar, beluga lentils or black lentils, can transform your next soiree into an elegant affair. Who needs to plunk down $100 for a can of salty fish eggs when you can have a heaping jar of nutty, flavorful lentils for around $2?

I’m the queen of thrifty eating. I’ve been known to get out the calculator and tally up the per serving cost of my daily meals. Lentils are a huge bang for your buck. They’re cheap and nutritious, high in protein, iron and vitamin B1, and they taste great.

Beluga Lentil “Caviar”

1 cup lentils
4 cups salted water
2 tblsp red wine vinegar
1 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste

Lentils require a 1:4 cooking ratio. This makes quite a lot of lentils. To half the recipe, simply use 1/2cup lentils and 2.5 cups of water. Bring the water to a boil, add salt to taste. Add lentils and cook covered for 20-25mins. After lentils have absorbed the water, add vinegar and olive oil.

This simplest of recipes also works great on top of salads, as a side dish for fish, or mixed with rice.

I made this dainty appetizer with the lentil caviar, a dollop of creme fraiche and a sliver of sundried tomato as a garnish.

Who’s ready for their next cocktail party?

Links I Love

I bet you think this post is going to be about sausage, don’t you?
Well, you’re wrong.
(It’s true that I’ve been eating sausage ever since I moved to Chicago and my husband arrived home from nine weeks in Germany, where sausage is a religious experience, but I try to lean toward a veggie-centered lifestyle.)

I’ve decided to take some time to post about my favorite food videos and blogs, partly because I don’t have any recipes or photos to post this week and partly because I know that I’m always interested in finding new cooking shows and blogs to view, so I thought I’d share my faves.

Let’s start with the obvious. I view Foodgawker and Tastespotting daily. I’ve been unsuccessful in publishing with them, but they are such great resources for recipes, and lovely, lovely food photos. Ever since Gourmet magazine went under in 2009, I’ve turned to Bon Appetit as my premier professional resource. My number two is Saveur even though I honestly don’t really like the design of their webpage.

I recently fell in love with The Perennial Plate, a foodblog/online documentary about sustainable eating. The videos are succinct and beautifully shot.

The Perennial Plate Episode 91: Southern Table from Daniel Klein on Vimeo.

I found “Working Class Foodies” videos through a random Youtube search and I immediately spent an afternoon watching all of the available videos. Great photography and affordable, healthy recipes, make this a great show for low income foodies.

Cooking with Dog has been a favorite of mine for a few years now. Authentic Japanese dishes narrated by a fluffy grey poodle. The videos are informative and adorable.

I was vegan in my early twenties, and I still eat vegan on a regular basis, so I can appreciate a little humor when it comes to the veggie lifestyle. Vegan Black Metal Chef is a hilarious series of meat-free recipes prepared in a very hardcore manner.

CHOW.com’s Channel on Youtube is another fantastic resource of how-to videos that I turn to for expert advice and cooking tips. One of my favorite vids is Gabrielle Hamilton preparing a Christmas Eve dinner.

IF your looking for an entertaining food program that combines history and humor, check out The Supersizers series. This BBC show takes a food critic and a comedian and drops them into different historical periods (mostly in Britain) to experience the cuisine and culture.

Lastly, for local eats and food happenings I turn to The Chicago Reader. Their food reviews are pretty solid and I’m keen on their “Key Ingredient” feature where they challenge a local chef to cook up a dish using exotic ingredients, like gold leaf, wood ash or cod milt.

What are some of your food centered links?

Heart Healthy Flax Crackers

Valentine’s Day came and went, where did the time go? I really wanted to post this before the holiday, but life handed me a bunch of lemons and I had to go make preserved lemons instead (which, by the way, are doing pretty well, fermenting as we speak).

Honey for your Honey

So, here’s a belated Valentine for you. Heart healthy flax crackers sweetened with honey. I keep a big ol’ bag of flax meal in the freezer (the stuff goes rancid almost instantly when left at room temp). Usually, I’ll sprinkled a tablespoon over my oatmeal in the morning, to boost my Omega-3s. But I wanted to do something more interesting and I found what looked like the world’s easiest recipe for crackers: flax meal, water, salt.

The recipe called for two cups flax meal, one cup water and a pinch of salt. I thought I’d get a little crazy and add honey and sesame seeds.

This picture makes it look like I had the easiest time rolling out the dough, but unfortunately, the crackers really gave me a hard time. I wasn’t able to scrape the sticky dough from my work surface. Flax seeds get incredibly gooey, almost slimy, when mixed with water. My hands were caked in cement-like flax dough that would not rinse off and it could have quickly turned into a nightmare had I not added about a cup and a half of whole wheat flour. The flour helped keep the dough firm and in place while rolling.

Once I figured out that the flax meal alone wasn’t going to cut it, everything worked out nicely. Here’s the recipe I used with my alterations:

Honey Sesame Flax Crackers
2 cups flax meal
1- 1 1/2 whole wheat flour
3 Tblsp sesame seeds
1 Tblsp honey
1 tsp salt + salt for sprinkling on top of the crackers
1 cup water
1 tblsp olive oil

Pre-heat oven to 400.
In a bowl, mix the flax meal, sesame seeds, and honey. Slowly add the water until you have a firm dough.
Add flour until the dough is firm enough to roll on a board or table surface. I found that I needed to dust my board several times to keep the dough from sticking. Roll out your dough think (1/2 to 1/4 inch). Score with the back of a knife. Using a pastry brush, brush with olive oil and sprinkle salt and sesame seeds.
Bake for 15-20mins.

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These didn’t turn out quite as crisp as I would’ve liked. I think adding a tablespoon or two of oil to the dough would remedy that. Flavor-wise these crackers are quite tasty and nutty. Flax seeds are high in dietary fiber, micronutrients, and help keep cholesterol levels down. They’re a delicious way to protect your heart year-round.

Just don’t make the same mistake I did and pop your crackers in the oven without scoring them or else this will happen:

Oh well, they still taste great.