Friday, July 20, 2012

The Dirty Life (Book Review) + Beet Greens with Garlic Cream Sauce

1. The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball

This book made me appreciate organic farming and inspired me even more to buy local and support local farmers. Kristin Kimball has a way with words and descriptions that made me believe for a few weeks that I was her best friend listening to her confide in me about her falling in love with the good earth, her husband, and her new life that she never imagined she would someday stumble upon and love. Her writing is beautiful and she describes the mundane events of farm life with such vividness that I felt like I was next to her and helping with cow milking, birthing, collecting sap from maple trees, planting potatoes, and so on.

Read this book and fall in love with Kristin and her husband’s farming and feeding philosophy, learn about the pleasures and pains of farm life, and become a member of Essex Farm (if you live nearby). You don’t even know how badly I want to be one so I can enjoy their fresh, delicious, and wholesome produce all year long.

2. Recipe: Beet Greens with Garlic Cream Sauce

I don’t have very good memory for complicated things like mathematical and scientific equations, nor do I have the patience to understand them. As long as I know how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide, life is good. Aaaand, as long as I know how to read, survival is not a problem.

I do, however, have great memory when it comes to food. Excellent memory. My recipe inspirations come from a combination of things I have come across from leafing through cookbooks, browsing magazines, reading books, and stalking food blogs. Take for example this recipe that I am about to share, Beet Greens in Garlic Cream Sauce. In her book, Kristin Kimball talks about cooking peas in milk. That was my AHA! moment. Hmmm… cooking vegetables in milk! Now, I didn't exactly cook peas in milk, but this particular recipe somehow concocted an image of my wilting beet greens cooked with that little bit of heavy cream leftover from making scones. Don’t you just love it when book inspirations and the importance of wasting naught come together?      

Friends, you have to give this recipe a try. Beet greens are very special, and when cooked, they lend a delicate flavor. There is a slight beet sweetness reminding you that it is the same plant as the beet root and a subtle hint of bitterness that can only come from healthy greens. And oh the colors! Beet greens look so vibrant. The deep shade of green and the beautiful red vein streaks are so alluring… You can’t help but cook and then savor them.    

Bell peppers… this is one of my candy vegetables that I have to have all the time, even in the dead of winter. DFJ introduced me to the petite ones! They are so much sweeter and crunchier than their bigger sized family members. To accompany the wilted greens, I sliced up some mini sweet bell peppers that gave this dish a nice and juicy crunch.

What made this dish truly come together was the garlic cream sauce. It is delicious! How else can I describe it but creamy and garlicky? Put those two together and the result is good, so good! It is also beautiful as it cooks... The cream bubbling up as soon as it hits the hot surface of the pan and the quick color change from white to golden is almost like an art of cooking chemistry.

Another secret to how wonderful this recipe turned out was the salt. After dinner, I repeatedly asked DFJ what he thought of the amount of salt and he said it was perfect. He is right, but I am stressing over this because I felt like using half a teaspoon was too much. However, there is a time and a place for generosity with salt and this is it. If you have salt intake problems, please use half the amount or a smidgen less. In my recipe below, I will keep it loose and just say generous pinches of salt.

Beet Greens in Garlic Cream Sauce

1 tbsp olive oil
2 large cloves of garlic
¼ cup heavy cream
3 cups beet greens (packed and stems included)
5 mini bell peppers
generous pinches of salt (I used 1/2 tsp but it will still be great with less)
a good dash of freshly ground pepper
generous pinch of chili flakes

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, sauté the garlic until golden brown. Gently pour the heavy cream and let it heat up for 15-20 seconds.

Add the bell peppers into the cream sauce and cook for a minute and a half until soft, stirring often. Toss in the beet greens and cook for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and chili flakes. Turn off the heat and serve immediately.   

So friends, save your beet greens... The farmers sell them along with the beets for a reason!


  1. That book sounds awesome! I love reading things that justify my way of eating. :P I should really saute more veggies in cream sauce also. The beet greens and peppers look so tasty!

  2. Hooray for beet greens! I save them too! :)

  3. I have never read a book about food before (I usually have my nose in a math book..I want to read a normal book but then I see a book on Galois Theory or Modular Forms and I just cave) but this one sounds like a must read! I love connecting with the author.
    I'm always wondering whether cooking is a science or an art. The combination of ingredients and reactions they make with each one another sometimes makes me think it's a science, but the inspirations you get from elsewhere and being creative with what you have make me think that it's an art. I think you combine the best of both worlds, this looks fantastic :)

  4. Hi Margarita,
    The book sounds very interesting! I love these vegetables. So colorful and so good for you.

  5. The book looks really interesting but what really caught my eye was the meal with beets that you prepared. I love beets and this one looks like a winner Margarita!


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