Rosa’s Musings: Beet Salad with Cottage Cheese & Soft-boiled Egg
by Rosa Mayland
Some people are not afraid of the cold and others regard it with utter contempt. Even though I can’t say I savor every season or mid-season of the year, I nonetheless definitely prefer the fresher season as I hate sweating excessively or getting sunburned like a shrimp on a barbie.
Sometimes I wonder if those predispositions are linked to my DNA or whether is it just a personal preference. What if our genes influenced our manner of conducting ourselves and our traits of character? Hmmm, that is quite a difficult question to answer, but I believe that if our health can be defined by our bloodline, then there are chances that our emotions, temperament and identity are also outlined by it.
You see, my father’s ancestors were Swiss mountaineers who might have had Danish or English origins (my family name is NOT Swiss at all). Then, on my my mother’s side they came from the rugged areas of Northern England where Viking settlers made themselves at home and also from European Russia, a place which is known for its dreadful cold.
Because of this heritage, as a child my hair was so straw-straight and pale blond that I looked like a little Swedish girl, with my blue eyes and fair skin. It is the reason why I was so popular amongst Japanese tourists who invariably asked my parents if they could take photos of me every time they caught a sight of me. Those features attracted them like crazy…
The care with which these nations cherished their hair was remarkable. A striking instance of their solicitude respecting it is afforded by a young warrior who was condemned to be beheaded. His last and most earnest request was, that it might not be stained with his blood, or exposed, after his death, to the rude touch of a slave. In some instances, ringlets of auburn hair have been found in the tombs of the early Britons.
– Excerpt form “The Scottish Gael” by J. Logan
The light thou beholdest
Stream through the heavens,
In flashes of crimson,
Is but my red beard
Blown by the night-wind,
Affrighting the nations!
Jove is my brother;
Mine eyes are the lightning;
The wheels of my chariot
Roll in the thunder,
The blows of my hammer
Ring in the earthquake!
– “The Challenge of Thor” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Sadly, the older I grew, the darker and frizzier my mane became. Nowadays, my locks are light auburn-colored with golden highlights, and are still quite wavy. Once again, this is another sign of the legacy of my forefathers as both my complexion and reddish-brown tint occurs most frequently in the phenotypes originating in Northern Europe*, so it is no surprise if my spirit is that of a “true daughter of Thor”.
*Scandinavia, Ireland, England, Scotland, Germany, the Benelux countries, France, Poland and Russia – Leading the pack, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England have the most redheads. Scotland has the highest proportion with 13% having red hair and ~ 40% possessing the recessive redhead gene. Ireland is second highest with ~ 10% having it and 40% carrying the gene.
~ Picture taken by my late English grandfather ~
I carry the love for harsh and dramatic weather within my blood; it is encoded in my genetic material and deeply rooted in me. There is no doubt about that. Yet, I must admit that although I find crisp air rather invigorating, the last two weeks’ polar conditions took a toll on me and brought my mood down, since I didn’t set a foot out of the door from fear of being transformed into a giant human icicle!
In my defense, until not long ago, Europe had been experiencing the worst winter in decades. On the 27th of January, we were hit by a coldwave that brushed across the continent, brought blizzards and caused the thermometer to dip to bitter levels. Temperatures of – 35.1° C were recorded during the night in the Swiss Alps (though nothing quite like the -41.8° C recorded in 1987 in La Brévine, Neuchâtel), and in Geneva temperatures sank to – 13° C. In addition, massive snowfalls transformed our landscapes into Siberian wastelands, intense frost swept through the country, and the Bise (cold, dry Northeasterly wind) was so violent it went right through you. Brrrrrrr!
The town of Geneva resembled a deserted Illinois ghost town and the rural areas looked like the icy Finnish tundra. Needless to say that there weren’t many crowds defying the benumbing elements. The only courageous individuals who braved the harsh conditions were disciplined blue-collars who wore impressive layers of clothes and rushed through the streets as if it were a matter of life and death.
O Winter ruler of the inverted year. . . I crown thee king of intimate delights, Fireside enjoyments, home-born happiness, And all the comforts that the lowly roof Of undisturb’d Retirement, and the hours Of long uninterrupted evening, know.
– William Cowper
On the positive side, this kind of climate is perfect for hibernating, cocooning, taking care of yourself, cuddling with that special someone, finding excuses to stay home, lying longer than usual in your snug bed, eating more comforting foods than usual (I nourish myself in a balanced way, but when the days are dark and glacial, it is difficult not want to uplift your mood with cheering grub such as chocolate or cakes) and for being as lazy as a ferret.
But, as we all know, even if this kind of behavior is good for our soul, it is impossible to close our eyes on the negative impact all this hedonistic, “shameless” binging and sluggish lifestyle has on our body. I have to admit that while my trousers still fit me, I wish were a little less tight around the hips, hence I’ve decided to take things in hand and start cutting down on high-calorie treats as well as exercising again.
Spring is around the corner and I really want to be in shape when the warm rays of the sun start to caress my skin and nature is blooming all around me. I would be terribly angry with myself if I felt unwell and out of breath while riding my bike through the fields or while walking up the Salève mountain. So, in order to attain my goal, my plan is to tone up my muscles, better control what I “devour”, and limit my intake of carbohydrates, sugary goods, and nuts.
Having said that, I have to point out that I refuse to go on any diet as I don’t find it is a good and lasting solution to weight control. In my opinion, instead of fasting like an anorexic model, following the latest nutritionists’ doolally fads or transforming into a fitness fascist, one should lead a harmonious life by giving priority to mindful nutrition and physical activity without ever forgetting to find pleasure in food and joy in existence.
Consequently, at the moment, big quantities of vegetables are on the menu, but that is no problem for me as I adore greens and I’m used to cooking with them. It is rare that I come across one veggie I hate or simply cannot stomach. In fact, I am quite a vegetable enthusiast.
One of my favorite veggies is beet. This gorgeous root is available in a range of pretty colors that illuminate the plate, has an interesting sweet and earthy flavor which is really refined and is extremely versatile. Beetroot is so awesome and, for me, totally indispensable. It’s a real must-have in my kitchen. I can’t imagine not using it on a regular basis as I appreciate inventing exotic or regional recipes with it.
My most recent creation is a classy, easy, fresh, nourishing, flavorful and nutrient-laden salad, which consists of thin slices of blanched beetroots that have been marinated in a Balsamic vinaigrette and topped with onions rings, cottage cheese, walnuts and a soft-boiled egg. This meatless course makes a great main dish when accompanied by a few slices of dark rye bread/crackers or a few buttered potatoes. Wonderful!
Beet Salad With Cottage Cheese & A Runny EggServes 4
Ingredients for the Vinaigrette:5 Tbs Balsamic vinegar 2 Tbs malt vinegar 2 Tbs olive oil 1 tsp Kikkoman (sweet)
A few drops of Chipotle Tabasco Black pepper, to taste Fine sea salt, to taste
Ingredients for the Salad:900g cooked beetroot, peeled & cut into thinnish slices 1 onion, thinly sliced into rounds 200g cottage cheese 4 large eggs, soft-boiled (see method)
A handful of walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped Pimentón or Espelette pepper, for sprinkling
Method for the Vinaigrette:
In a big bowl, mix all the ingredients for the vinaigrette together.
Method for the Salad:
- Add the beetroot slices to the vinaigrette. Mix delicately and let marinade for about 1 hour.
- Prepare 4 plates and arrange the slices on them.
- Add the onion slices and the cottage cheese.
- Place a soft-boiled egg on top of each salad and cut it open.
- Sprinkle with the walnuts and the pimentón or Espelette pepper
When I need cooked beets, I generally buy them already boiled (it saves time and in that way I always have them on hand in my fridge), but you can also cook yours at home.
Instead of using walnuts, you can sprinkle your salad with toasted pumpkin seeds or any other nut/seed of your choice.
The soft-boiled eggs can easily be replaced by a poached or fried eggs.
Serve as main course with some wholesome bread such . Norwegian mountain bread or some boiled/jacket potatoes with butter.