I always knew that vacation was good for the soul, but its timing couldn’t have been better. California certainly welcomed me, and for 7 days I was surrounded by love and compassion, engaging conversations, and activities that make my heart happy.
First I flew to Los Angeles to see Kelli, the friend I can always count on no matter how many miles we’re apart. We first connected over food while she lived here, and there is still nothing else that compares to sharing the kitchen with her, then watching her effortlessly create the most wonderful dinner party – the kind with twinkly lights, a fresh tablecloth, fancy glasses and food that satisfies.
During my stay we embraced the sun with breakfast on the patio, several walks around her cute Burbank neighborhood, and a subway adventure to Grand Central Market. What a wonderful place, a curious food lover’s dream for sure. If I lived there, you can bet this $3.50 plate of juicy carnitas with those perfect crispy bits would be a weekly occurrence.
From there I made my way to San Francisco to stay with Sarah and Alanna, whom I consider some of my best pals, even though we’d yet to meet in person. That’s the beauty of blogging, something that I’m grateful for more and more each day.
The connected spirits, the shared stories, the ups and downs of life – that’s what you’ll find when you read an authentic blog.
Part of my master plan is to travel around the country to meet a number of other virtual lady friends, to see them in their own element and deepen our bond.
We spent several days cooking, photographing, laughing and eating. Alanna invited us to her humble abode for dinner, putting me in charge of a spatchcocked chicken (yes, I was nervous) while they prepared a rutabaga, parsnip, and rosemary mash plus a wonderful salad.
The food was great, ending with berries and whipped coconut cream, but the conversation and memories made were the best.
The next day Sarah and I nibbled our way through every aisle of Monterey Market, another food lover’s mecca, with dozens of fruits and vegetables I rarely see in Minnesota.
Suddenly we were plotting this gorgeous Stacked Beet Salad, churning out ideas a mile a minute. The concept would be simple, the presentation letting each layer unfold as its own.
Warm roasted beets would be sliced and stacked, the perfect sponge for our basil and tarragon infused oil we planned to make. To play off the sweetness of the red and gold rounds, a bit of peppery arugula would separate the layers.
And then for the grand finale, shallots and green garlic would be fried until crispy, the salty caramelization adding one more dimension.
Creating this salad with Sarah, learning from her as we shot (this girl is incredibly talented), and enjoying the fruits of our labor was pure joy. The salad turned out even better than we imagined, just simple food prepared in a unique way. You’ll find the recipe for the salad base below, and the herb-infused oil on Sarah’s blog so hop on over!
And guess what else? During the trip there was only one day that I didn’t feel well. A testament to what a calm mind can do. I practiced letting go of the “should be doing” attitude, and embraced self-care. Its effect was powerful. I realize it’s something that must be incorporated into my daily life for me to be healthy again, and proof that food alone is not the answer.
one bunch of red beets, stems & leaves removed (about 3)
one bunch of gold beets, stems & leaves removed (about 3)
3 ounces of baby arugula
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large shallot, thinly sliced (or 2 small)
1 piece of green garlic, bulb and stem, thinly sliced (if you can’t find green garlic, use two green onions)
coarse salt for garnish
Herb-Infused Oil recipe on Snixy Kitchen
Prepare the oil and let it steep according to the directions over on Sarah’s beautiful blog!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Trim beets and steam for 20 minutes, covered. Then wrap the red beets in one piece of foil and the gold beets in another piece of foil. Roast for 35 minutes, until tender. Under cold water, rinse the beets and peel. Then slice the beets 1/8 inch thick into rounds.
While beets are roasting, heat olive oil in skillet to medium high heat. Add shallots & garlic, stirring, and cook for 1 minute. Then add salt and continue to fry until golden brown and crispy. Set aside.
On each plate, lay 4-5 beet slices down, overlapping. Then drizzle some of the infused oil (about 2 teaspoons) over them and a sprinkle of coarse salt. Add a small amount of arugula to lightly cover the beets. Cover with 4-5 beet slices of the opposite color, another drizzle of the oil, sprinkle of salt, and a small amount of arugula. For the final layer, add another 4-5 beet slices, then drizzle 1 tablespoon of the infused oil over the stack and top with crispy shallot/garlic mixture. Serve and enjoy.
Beets, oil, and crispy shallot/garlic mixture can all be prepared one day ahead, then assembled the day of.