After experiencing the grand Harvest Moon and awakening to a distinct change in the morning air, it is easy to see that fall is upon us, with the autumnal equinox on Sept. 21. Many of us sunwatchers will be out in full force as El Sol drops into the Pacific due west. The bounty at farmers market awaits us, and I had a sneak preview of Carol Broadhurst’s heirloom tomatoes today. Advice? Get some.
Our Cambria Historical Society volunteers were treated to a nice appreciation party in the yard at the museum, and I assembled a hearty salad to accompany Penny Church’s lasagna roll-ups. I planned to use the leftovers to make a blended soup, but there weren’t any.
Deluxe Tucson Bean Salad
- 2 20-oz. cans cannelloni beans
- 2 cans white beans
- 1 can kidney beans
- 1 medium purple bell pepper
- 1 medium orange bell pepper
- 1 small white onion
- Elephant garlic, to taste
- Fresh basil
- 1⁄2 cup olive oil
- Ground pepper
I am beyond cooking all my beans from scratch, so I appreciate the convenience of canned low-sodium ones; drain and rinse them well and pour into a large serving bowl. What makes this deluxe is the extra step of sautéing the finely diced peppers and onion in olive oil only until translucent, instead of tossing them into the beans raw. This also infuses the oil with wonderful flavor to use as the dressing.
You may use a couple of cloves of regular garlic, but now is your chance to purchase the mild, nutty Elephant Garlic we have harvested from plants at the Cambria Historical Museum, which have flourished since Eugenio Bianchini used them at his famous community barbecues. We think they might have originally come with Sarah Guthrie from Oregon, and they are on sale on our front porch.
Make a chiffonade of fresh basil to stir in; toss with the olive oil infusion. Garnish with lovely purple kale.
I am still stocking up at farmers market on zucchini blossoms and all things purple, especially beets and their nutritious greens. Canned beets have always been a staple at my house, so I was ready for Marjorie Ott’s specialty, though I missed going to the latest class she had at the Olallieberry Inn.
Deluxe Chocolate Beet Bread
- 1 15-oz. can beets, drained (but reserve 1⁄2 cup juice)
- 1 1⁄2 cups granulated sugar
- 1⁄2 cup vegetable oil
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3⁄4 cup cocoa
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. baking soda
- 1⁄2 tsp. salt
- 1⁄2 cup chocolate chips
- 1⁄2 cup pecans (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Puree beets with juice and transfer to large bowl. Stir in sugar, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add to beet mixture and mix until combined (do not overmix). Stir in chips and nuts. Bake in four small loaf pans, sprayed and floured with a little cocoa powder, filled about 3⁄4 full, for 30 to 40 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.
Allow to cool slightly on a rack, and turn out onto a serving plate. Serve as is, or drizzle with your favorite glaze. These stay nice and moist if they last a second day, and may be frozen.
Be sure to reserve a place with Marjorie for her upcoming classes, Oct. 20 (Pumpkin); Nov. 10 (Pastas with Kathryn Clayton); and Dec. 8 (Holiday Dishes). Call 927-3222 or email email@example.com.