The Kindness of Strangers
Russ Parsons' Southern Comfort Soup

Dar Liqama's Tangy Roasted Beet Salad


Doesn't that look dull? And trust me, this post probably won't be much of anything either. I've been back for three days and the closest I've come to cooking was getting on Ben's nerves as he kindly roasted a chicken for me on my first night home again, and then microwaving spinach in the plastic bag it came in last night. I almost passed out from the total grossness of this, but the convenience factor was huge, and besides, after ten days of not a single fruit or leafy green vegetable passing my lips, I could not be picky about how I prepared my vitamins before getting them into my system. Time was of the essence.

Before I left on my trip, I put a sack of beets in the fridge, figuring one of my roommates might cook them up while I was gone. But she hadn't and so last night, I decided to use them up, after making sure they hadn't gone to rot in the crisper. I used a recipe from Food and Wine that was contributed by an American woman who teaches at a Moroccan cooking school near Marrakech. The recipe is not anything earth-shattering, but I loved the method for preparing the beets.

You plunk three pounds of beets (or 1.5 pounds, if that's all you have, like me) in a cake pan. No oil, no cleaning, no nothing. You cover the pan with aluminum foil. You stick the pan in a preheated oven. An hour and a half later you have tender, full-flavored, delicious beets that you cool off for a bit before peeling.

The recipe has you cut the beets into strips and toss with paprika, cumin, lemon juice, oil and salt. It's a perfectly serviceable salad and especially good if you've been deprived of fresh vegetables for some time. Did it blow my mind, this recipe? Not really. But I did like how easy it was to prepare. And that is that (I warned you).

An aside: I am so happy to be home again. Ah, the glory of pouring myself a bowl of organic cereal for breakfast, and dousing the flakes with skim, skim!, milk. And having a crunchy apple to snack on. Whenever I like! Morning, noon, night. It's a luxury we take for granted until we're stranded in some massive convention center that makes the Javits Center look like someone's postage stamp garden, eating only cardboard Broetchen filled with one limp slice of cheese and a forlorn little disc of cucumber. Yes, it's good to be back.