It may be the holiday season, but right now it’s 70 degrees outside in Baltimore.
I am no Californian. I like four seasons. It should be cold for football, and there should be at least two decent snowfalls per winter. I don’t need Massachusetts-level weather, but snow is imperative.
I have welcomed this weather this week, though. December 14th to the 21st is the darkest week of the year in the northern hemisphere. The last little bits of daylight get swallowed by the darkness well before the dinner hour, and by the time seven o’clock rolls around all I want to do is go to bed. At least the warmth helps.
“I love the stars too much to be afraid of the dark.” ~Anonymous~
This weekend at yoga teacher training we talked about shadow sides, the darkness that we all have, and how to embrace it just as much as the light. The darkness is what makes people so complex. It is the thing that makes people who they are.
What does this have to do with beets and thieves oil, you ask? Isn’t this supposed to be a food blog, you say?
“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” ~Leonard Cohen~
For me, when it gets dark outside, and I have trouble finding the crack, it is the smallest of gestures that brings me back to humanity. This weekend I was sick. Weird sick, like feverish with no fever, weak, dizzy. The teacher training went for three and a half hours on Friday night, with two hours of yoga, nine and a half hours on Saturday, with four and a half hours of yoga, and five and a half hours on Sunday, with two hours of yoga.
When I dragged myself to the training Friday night, one of my fellow students handed me a gift, a Mason jar with thieves oil Epsom salt bath soak. I had commented on this delicious combination of rosemary, clove, lemon, eucalyptus, and cinnamon on her Instagram, and she saw that I was sick.
This simple gesture stuck with me. It doesn’t take much.
If thieves oil brings me out of the darkness, beets remind me to hunker down. Putting up or preserving seasonal food is primal for me. In times of financial strain, I tend to buy two things: food and books. Entertainment, knowledge, sustenance. Mason jars on the pantry shelves remind me that I have everything I need and give me permission to hunker down until spring. In the case of pickled beets, they are really in the back of the ‘fridge, but you get the idea.
Here’s how the magic happens.
Thieves Oil Epsom Salts (Scrub or Soak)
Thieves oil has a grisly history. Legend has it that it allowed thieves to rob sick people during the Black Plague without getting sick. Every recipe I have found has had different proportions, but the one I like best is this:
10 drops of clove essential oil
9 drops of lemon essential oil
5 drops of cinnamon essential oil
4 drops of eucalyptus essential oil
3 drops of rosemary essential oil
Add as much or as little of the above as you like to one cup of Epsom salts. Dissolve salts in a hot bath, or use as a scrub. While there are some claims that thieves oil protects against illness, kills Ebola, and prevents you from contracting the Black Plague, I will settle for the fact that it smells delicious, and the transdermal magnesium provided by the Epsom salts soothes sore muscles, helps all organs of the body function, and relieves insomnia.
Spoiler Alert: Some of you local people will be receiving these. Act surprised.
As for the beets, the recipe is very, very simple. I love pickled beets, and I do them a little differently.
(Quick) Pickled Beets
The three jars above used to following ingredients:
Two bunches of beets (living in the drawer of my ‘fridge with their greens cut off for approximately three weeks. I generously call this an “aging process,” but it is highly unnecessary and was more like four weeks. Maybe five. They were none the worse for the wear.)
Pickling brine in the following 1-2-3 ratio: One part vinegar, two parts sugar, three parts water ( I used slightly more vinegar because I love it. White or cider vinegar is fine.)
One cinnamon stick per jar
Peel beets. Wash hands constantly, use gloves, or live with a pinkish hue for awhile. Cut into “hearty matchsticks,” which just means don’t worry too much about uniformity. Call it “rustic” if anyone questions your knife skills.
Pack beets into Mason jars. Add one cinnamon stick for each jar.
Boil pickling brine ingredients for several minutes, then carefully pour over beets. Leave some room at the top.
Cool with the lids off until just warm, then put them in the back of the ‘fridge. Wait until they are completely cool, then start snacking. When the beets start to run out, slice an onion up and throw it in the pickling liquid.
I bet the pickling liquid would make a delicious cocktail. Give it a try and let me know.
These stay delicious forever. They are crispy, crunchy, bloody purple deliciousness that are great on their own, in salads, as part of a relish tray or…? I usually eat them standing in front of the ‘fridge while I decide what else I want to eat.
What brings you out of the darkness? What helps you see the light?