Saint Augustine is the oldest city in North America, or so they claim, and quite possibly the most touristic town. It is absolutely beautiful though. The majestic fort overlooks the charming town comprised of museums souvenir shops, and restaurants. Umineko spent the day being complete and utter tourists. We went to the fort and learned about coquina, the cannon-ball eating stone that made up the fort walls. We visited the Pirate museum and I looked longingly at a book on woman sailors. (Though since starting to sail and living in fear of them, I’ve been more and more confused by why anyone would glorify thieves, murderers, and rapists). The town was charming, but after one day I was ready to go back to Umineko and set sail.
Rather than pay the exorbitant $2.25 a foot at the local marinas, Umineko decided to stay on a mooring ball between Anastasia Island and Saint Augustine. We dinghied back to the boat. After a day of ice cream, wine tastings, hot-sauce tastings, and all sorts of snacks I couldn’t wait to make dinner. It was finally warm out which meant I could make more salads.
We didn’t have any lettuce on board nor spinach or any other salad-y greens, but I had the perfect thing. I had gotten a bunch of beets at Marion farmer’s market and was itching to try them in something.
Beets are delicious. Their sweet, rich flavor makes a fantastic salads or part of a salad. They are excellent, roasted on their own and of course the traditional Russian borscht soup. But though beautiful and a wonderful root vegetable to have around be extremely careful of the wily beet. It has a mind of its own and will stain everything around it brilliant hues of pink. Plastic bowls, wooden spoons… even your countertop isn’t safe.
I warned Sato San that Umineko might be pink after I made dinner. Characteristically he laughed and said he liked pink. Still, I wanted to prevent as much dying as possible. My mind kept going back to the famous borscht incident at Paradise Café, a restaurant I had worked at. One evening we tried something different and made borscht. It came out fantastically, all of the patrons loved it. Unfortunately the soup dyed everything that it came in contact with. Bowls, spoons… everything had to be thrown away.
Thankfully none of Umineko’s countertops or bowls were dyed in the making of this beet salad (one wooden spoon wasn’t so lucky). Happily, it turned out everything I hoped it would be and more. And so backstay beet salad was born… just like backstays support a mast this salad supports a main wonderfully. I highly recommend it for cruising inland and off-shore alike. It probably isn’t too bad on land either!
Beets are a root vegetable that you may not think about often but they are an excellent way to get a salad when you haven’t been provisioning in a while. But be careful…
When preparing beets on a boat (or really anywhere) make sure to clean surfaces immediately unless you want your countertops and white bowls splashed with a lovely pink. Wooden spoons’ porous surfaces never will regain their original shade but you can keep your white countertop gleaming.
Backstay Beet Salad
- 4 medium-sized beets
- 3 oz feta
- ½ small onion, finely sliced
- 2 T white balsamic vinegar
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 t salt (or to taste)
- 1 t freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)
- Preheat oven to 350◦ F (170◦ C)
- Wrap beets in tinfoil and roast in oven for about 40 minutes
- Allow to cool (run cold water over the beets to speed up the process)
- Peel (peels may slide right off)
- Cut into cubes
- Put beet cubes into medium-sized bowl
- Mix in onions, feta, vinegar, and olive oil
- Season to taste with salt and pepper