Roasted beet wedges


Sometimes, I overdo a dish, and ruin it.

Not like, overcook overdo, or over-fuss overdo (though both of those happen at times), but simply prepare and eat it too much.

Not like, 300 times too much. But just one time too much. That’s all it takes.

Sometime in 2005, I think I was pregnant, and we had lots of squash and eggplant in our CSA box. I fell in love with ratatouille — an eggplant and zucchini stew — but I got carried away, had too much faith in my eggplant love, and yada yada yada, I haven’t made or eaten ratatouille in six years.

I must’ve done the same with beets. Oh, yes, I love them pickled, and raw in salads. And maybe it’s because I’m the only one in my house who really eats them, so when I buy a bunch at the market, I find myself eating 3 pounds of beets — but this year I just haven’t really wanted them. The thought of boiling or simmering the roots until they were tender did not a thing for me.

But then, at last Saturday’s market, I impulsively bought a bunch. Knew at that moment that I wanted to roast them.


Which is what I did, yesterday morning, the start of an epic day that found me in my kitchen for 14 straight hours, no exaggeration (more on that later). I began my adventure by roasted a few pounds of beets, and then proceeded to use that as sustenance for the rest of the day — they were so satisfyingly sweet, salty, earthy, crispy-tender, I ate them all. Breakfast, lunch, and partial dinner.

And it’s not like anyone in my family is calling foul, feeling short-changed. But still. I didn’t mean to eat a whole tray of beets yesterday.

So, in order to photograph and share this rekindled flame with you, I was forced to again roast a tray of beets. Which are now done, conveniently, at lunchtime.

This could be a vicious cycle.


Recipe: Roasted Beet Wedges


  • beets (as many as you’d like, without over-crowding pan), ends trimmed, peeled, & cut into 6 wedges each
  • olive oil (a few Tbsp)
  • kosher salt
  • few sprigs fresh rosemary or thyme


  1. Preheat oven to 400º. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (not required, but will prevent sticking).
  2. Place beet wedges in a medium bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt (I use about 1/4 tsp per 3-4 beets, but it’s to taste). Toss to coat.
  3. Spread beets in a single layer on baking sheet, and tuck herb sprigs among the wedges.
  4. Roast for 45 minutes, or until fork-tender.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2011.



Mug attachment


When Tim & I married a decade ago, we quickly realized that, somewhat conveniently, neither of us function well before having a cup of coffee. During that first naive blissful year of marriage, still using my old grad school drip coffee-maker and buying whole bean coffee from Sam’s club, we’d grind the coffee and fill the pot at night before bed, so Tim the first person up could just walk into the kitchen and hit the brew button. Once the first few sips were administered, we could coherently discuss plans for the day.

Many things have changed about our coffee-drinking habits. One year we graduated to a drip maker with a timer, so the coffee could brew before waking and we could sip within 30 seconds of morning consciousness. Then we upgraded to local coffee, splitting huge 5-pound bags, bought straight from the roaster, with friends. These days Tim roasts all of our coffee (yes, I drink the best coffee in the world, every single morning), and we’re quite attached to our Bodum stainless-steel french press.

But one thing that hasn’t changed? Our mugs.

This was not a conscious decision. We didn’t wake up one day and say, hey, let’s be really cute, and pick out a couple of mugs that we drink out of every day, just for fun(!). We simply, out of habit, began drinking out of the same mugs everyday. Tim’s choice was a thick, heavy mug from Krispy Kreme, gifted to me during grad school by a friend whose wedding program I had designed. My choice was a bit more petite, but also substantial, a restaurant-ware mug from a thrift store (go figure).

The mug love? It runs deep.

So deep, that on more than one occasion, when we’ve had guests in our house and I come downstairs to find one of them sipping coffee out of my mug, I first twitch a little, then wring my hands, try to keep quiet, start perspiring, reach for another perfectly-acceptable mug, and then break down. I confess my need for my mug. My guest might giggle or roll her eyes, then she realizes I’m serious, and graciously allows me to pour her half-cup of coffee into another (perfectly acceptable) mug.

About a year ago, Tim set his mug on top of his car, got the kids buckled into their carseats, and drove away. As you can imagine, Krispy Kreme was instantly krispy and creamed. He walked back into the house, with sadness on his face and the collected pieces in his hands, and somehow our world seemed to hang suspended in a haze of doubt.

What did this mean? I couldn’t help but wonder.

Thankfully, his snafu was not prophetic of any impending plague or demise, and Tim being Tim, he got over it quickly and just found a random mug to drink out of every morning.

But me? I couldn’t let it rest. I needed my husband to drink from the Krispy Kreme mug. It was our way.

So, enter a random holiday in which a gift was in order (Father’s Day? birthday? can’t remember). I did a quick search on ebay and found the exact same Krispy Kreme mug, which I bid on and won decisively (not a whole lot of bidding wars going on for coffee mugs). It arrived, Tim opened his gift, and responded with an overwhelming, “Um, okay, cool. Yeah, this is great, a new mug, just like my old one. Um, thanks, yeah, thanks a lot.”

Little did he realize how I had preserved our world.




Freezing stock in jars

After our vacation in Michigan, book-ended with all the prep that goes into packing for a family of five, and all the laundry/bedtime-adjusting/post-vacay-depression-fighting/reality-facing on return, it had been a couple weeks since I’d made it to the Goodwill Outlet.

What, I’ve not convinced you just how high this is on my priority list? My sister tweeted last weekend that I’m “a yard sale [or trip to Goodwill] shy of an A&E reality show” (hey, if it paid, I’d consider).

Friday afternoon, I saw an opportunity. My husband was taking our older two kids to an event, and as I pondered my options for the evening, it hit me that they bring out new bins at The Outlet at 5pm. I texted my friend Sarah, picked her up 20 minutes later, and was on my way to avoiding a weekend of withdrawal symptoms.

The first thing I picked up to put into my cart was a big box of Poise Undergarments.

Not, of course, filled with its original contents, but rather with 24 quart-sized Ball jars. Glassware costs only 49¢/pound, so the box probably ran about $4.

At home, Tim rolled his eyes and shook his head as I Goo-gone’d, washed, and sanitized the jars. No, I had no specific plans for them, but I knew I needed them. They went right back into the Poise box, and into the basement.*

Only to come out two days later, as I started my first pot of chicken stock, prepping for soup season.

In years past, I’ve frozen my stock in ziplock bags, stacking them flat in the freezer to maximize space. But on many occasions I thawed a bag only to find that, in getting knocked around in the freezer, it had split. Translating into a loss of valuable stock and a royal mess, discovered only after the bag had thawed into a pool that dripped undiscovered, quietly and steadily, to the floor.

But with a deep-freezer in the basement, I can spare a little room for freezing stock in jars. My friend Stefanii cans her stock in a pressure-canner, and I’m hoping to get to that someday. But until then, the freezer will do, with a little care.

A few things are important when freezing liquids in glass jars:

  1. The liquid should be cold. For my stock, I chill it down quickly after cooking by stirring it over an ice bath. Then I ladle the cooled stock into jars and refrigerate them overnight before freezing.
  2. You must leave head room at the top of the liquid — a couple inches, or to be safe don’t fill above the 800ml line (for a quart jar). Liquid expands a lot when frozen, so you need to leave room for that expansion, or the jar can explode under the pressure (a safe-guard is to leave the lids off until the liquid is completely frozen — good to do if you have a level freezing surface).
  3. Don’t freeze liquids in jars larger than a quart. Something about the liquid expansion and the size of the jars makes half-gallon and gallon-sized jars much more likely to break.
  4. (EDITED 9/24) Just read in an Urban Garden magazine that using straight-sided (i.e., wide-mouth) jars is safer than using jars w/ shoulders, as the curved glass is weaker.

Of course, before you freeze stock, you must make it.

Have I mentioned I am a Proselytizer of Homemade Stock? Oh, right. I have. Well, in case some of you weren’t listening, I’ll be covering it again soon.

Assuming I have the time, between trips to The Outlet.


* Note: The fact that I am once again showing you photos of my basement can be construed as nothing short of a cry for help. Recently, Emily descended the steps with me into the abyss, and after taking in “The Room” where junk is piled so high it is questionable whether enough oxygen exists for a human to survive, she could only muster the understatement, “You could use some storage shelves.”


I linked this post up to Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS.




We spent a long weekend last on the shores of Lake Michigan.


It was the first time I’d ever laid my 39-year old eyes on a Great Lake.


Quite taken with the dunes, the need for a sweater on a September morning or evening (but left behind at the house by noon), the old-school ferry that traverses the tiny sea from the port at Ludington, the smooth rocks that mingle with sand on shorelines. I decided this was the beach of my bones, my blood (where somewhere, deep down, lies Irish, I’m sure).


Two nights of shore-side campfires, we did what you do, and made s’mores. By the end of the fire, between adults and offspring, figuring out the best method for optimal balance of toasty/melty marshmallows, gooey chocolate, and lightly toasted graham cracker.



I decided that what the s’more really needs is salt. Wouldn’t a layer of salted caramel sauce, or peanut butter, do just fine?


A future campfire by the shore will have to tell. Though I think I already know the answer.


End-of-day, my 5-year old son called it. The Best Day of the Whole Entire World.

On being a paranoid canner

Homemade Salsa (optional canning instructions) via KatySheCooks

Take my recent google search, after opening a jar of my first home-canned marinara sauce a couple weeks ago:
Can you taste botulism?”

Really. Google anything about home canning, and see if what you read doesn’t run a gamut between self-sustaining off-gridders praising a lost art of our grandparents and sterility-obsessed risk-avoiders who think home canning is akin to Russian Roulette. You can either find a recipe for canning that’s been used “by [so-and-so’s] grandmother and great-grandmother and they never got sick!,” or you can find the stats for people the CDC estimates die every year from eating contaminated home-canned foods. Take your pick which one you want to base your preserving decisions on.

I am not risk-averse. We drink raw milk in our household, which according to some forums should be punishable as child abuse. I will cut the mold off hard cheese and consume the rest of the block. I even eat a raw egg each day (because I know my egg farmer and know his chickens are healthy and happy!). All of these practices are considered riskier than eating sterilized food. But eating something that tastes fine and then ending up paralyzed was a scenario that — I’ll admit — kinda freaked me out.

The question mark looming over my marinara was that I used a water-bath canner, and failed to add extra acid to the tomatoes (in the form of citric acid powder or lemon juice). Since modern-day tomato varieties have been bred to be less acidic, they are sometimes not the right pH to be water-bath canned without some risk of bacteria growth. Botulism. You may not taste, see, or smell it. It does horrible things to people. Google told me about every single one of them.

So the answer for my head-full of doubt was to boil the heck out of it. Half an hour at a rapid boil in a covered saucepan should kill botulism. We all ate it, and have lived to tell about it.

But I don’t want to feel the need to do this every time I open a jar of home-canned tomatoes. I also don’t have a pressure canner, and am not ready to buy one. So I’ll be adding the safe-guarding citric acid to future jars, or just sticking to something safer, like tomato salsa.

Why is it safer? Because it has a ton of vinegar already in the recipe, making it safe for water-bath canning, keeping the sealed jars at a pH that inhibits bacteria growth. As a bonus, salsa has a higher jar yield from a starting quantity of fresh tomatoes than sauces. So to get 8 pint jars of salsa, I started with just 10 pounds of roma tomatoes. I like that math.

This is a classic tomato salsa, spiced with cumin and garlic, on a heat scale somewhere between medium and medium-hot. We are a family of heat wimps, so next time I make it I might use fewer jalapenos (I used a 1/2 cup for this batch). But other than that, for my first attempt at canning salsa, it was pretty near perfect.

Full of flavor, with nary a chance of bacteria-induced paralysis. That’s my kind of canned good.

This post was linked up to Simple Lives Thursday, via GNOWFGLINS.


Recipe: Tomato Salsa (for canning)

Recipe adapted for quantity and ingredients from this recipe at Preserving Traditions. The adjustments made included decreasing the amount of pH-raising ingredients like onions and peppers, and the lemon juice was replaced with an equivalent (not equal, as more vinegar than lemon juice is required for safe acid levels) amount of apple cider vinegar (for those rightly concerned with the pH of the salsa for canning purposes).

: yields about 8 pints


  • 10 pounds roma tomatoes
  • 2 1/2 cups diced white onion (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup finely chopped jalapeno peppers (seeds and ribs removed)
  • 1/4 cup minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar (this is my favorite brand)
  • 4 tsp table salt
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper


  1. Fill a very large stockpot with water, and bring to a boil. Have ready a large mixing bowl filled with ice water.
  2. Drop tomatoes into the boiling water, adding only as many as will float in a single layer. After 30 seconds, transfer tomatoes to ice water bath. Once cool, slip the skins off the tomatoes and discard. Repeat until all tomatoes are peeled.
  3. Seed the tomatoes by cutting in half along the equator. Squeeze each half gently to remove the seeds and extra juice (discard).
  4. Chop the peeled/seeded tomatoes into a dice, and add to a large stockpot over medium heat.
  5. Add remaining ingredients to tomatoes, stir well, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes, or longer for a thicker salsa.
  6. Ladle hot salsa into hot, sterilized canning jars. Water-bath process pints for 15 minutes. Let cool completely, and check seals. Store in a cool place for up to a year.


Tomato Salsa for Canning on Punk Domestics