An excuse to get out my mandoline


Oh I cannot wait for spring.

And lest your mind wander to the stereotypical images of gardening, mid-70s days and open windows: I’m really just ready for yard sales.

I developed a little tradition last summer. Late Friday night I’d check the paper and craigslist for area sales, and make a tentative list. My goal was to be at the earliest sale about 10 minutes before they opened — then I’d make my rounds, finally ending up at the Farmer’s Market mid-morning. By noon I was home with a Subaru’s worth of produce and treasures, ready for my eye-rolling oh-so-willing husband to help unload.

The thing about yard sales is that it’s almost impossible not to stereotype a sale depending on address — even though experience says the best deals and finds are often at unexpected places. One day last fall, toward the end of the sale season, I found one located just a few blocks from my house, on North Meridian Street.

If you’re not from Indianapolis: a good stretch of North Meridian (ahem, across a proverbial and invisible track from my block) is on the National Register of Historic Places. It holds stately, stone, turn-of-the-century mansions, heralding from they days when automobile money found its way to our city. Some of the homes are reminiscent of movie sets, surrounded by fountains, stately grounds, and lion-clad iron fences.

My kinda street to hit up a yard sale.

So I did — and as I perused linens and kitchenware that was no longer needed “at the condo,” I started a neat little pile of finds: a set of Riedel wine glasses, an All-Clad stainless griddle, and an OXO mandoline slicer. The griddle was marked $175 — and even after my best talking-down speech he wouldn’t budge (understandably, it’s a $350 griddle). So I walked away with the $1 wine glasses and the $5 mandoline — and though I likely tweeted and instagrammed those finds to a bloody pulp, I never forgot the griddle that got away.

Never satisfied, I am. It’s the blood of the thrifter.

A mandoline is, in my humble opinion, a somewhat frivolous tool. Excepting the fact that when you need one, nothing else will do — you just don’t need one that often. Case in point: I had still not used my $5 OXO even once after 6 months in my cabinet. On an afternoon of procrastination this week, I decided that must be remedied.


The challenge? Beet chips. Uniform slices are key, because otherwise these chips would be nearly impossible to cook evenly. This is a solid effort with just a small pile of reward — so save these for an afternoon when you’re bored, or needing to instead do laundry, or wanting to impress your dinner guests. A single large beet produced enough for 2 people, though I did eat them all.

Because I’ve gotta get every penny’s worth out of that five bucks.


There are many recipes for beet chips available — this one from Martha Stewart gave me the idea of sandwiching baking sheets to keep the chips flat. The chips lighten as they cook — so dark red spots actually mean they are under-cooked — the chips will turn brown if they begin to overcook.

Recipe: Beet Chips

: one medium beet will yield 2 side servings


  • 2 medium beets, peeled and sliced 1/18″ thick on a mandoline slicer
  • 1 Tbsp olive or melted coconut oil
  • spices to taste: garlic powder, smoked paprika, chili powder, etc.
  • salt to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350º and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, toss beets with olive oil.
  3. Add 1/4 tsp of each of your spices and salt, and toss with your hands to coat and separate beet slices (latex gloves will prevent pink hands). Taste a raw beet for seasoning, adding more to taste.
  4. Lay beets in a single layer on prepared sheet, and sandwich another sheet on top.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove top sheet, and rotate bottom sheet in oven. Bake another 8-12 minutes, or until beets are starting to turn pink.
  6. Cool beets on a rack, they will crisp as they cool.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.




5 thoughts on “An excuse to get out my mandoline

  1. That’s funny, I use my mandoline all the time. Heck, just today for thinly sliced shallots. I also use it for thinly sliced potatoes as well.

    Can we go garagesale’ing together some time? Or would that be like too much competition, resulting in one of us getting pissed because the other found the treasure that should have been ours?

    1. I’m not sure why I don’t reach for it more often — it might just be that I’m not used to having it. I might also have a similar feeling about it that I do about my garlic press — just another thing to wash in a kitchen that is constantly full of dirty dishes. I’d rather just use my already-dirty chef’s knife if I can get away with it. But no way can I make 1/16″ cuts with that thing.

      re: tagging along on yard sales — sure thing! you just gotta get up early, and be ready to cat-fight if our eyes land on the same item simultaneously…

  2. I just put beet seeds in seed starter this afternoon along with carrots and herbs. We will see what happens. I am so ready for Spring. I want to grow things. 🙂

    1. We grew beets last year, they were just tiny. Kind of like our radishes. I would think our soil was too hard but our carrots were lovely.

      We are such slackers on the garden this year. I think we’ll end up buying starts for everything. Scaling back too — growing more of just a few things rather than diversified.

  3. Just be careful; I know of THREE people who have recently sliced off more than they expected. Like in skin. Yep. Not me thankfully but I was close. One got my finger nail last week!

    All because we are in too much of a hurry to use the guard that should prevent that from happening. Happy to only see my index fingernail bite the dust and not the tip of my index finger; I was fortunate and learned my lesson. 🙂

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