Every weekend, fella and I like to suit up and head out to Westham Island. Now, Westham Island is, unlike some of the other, better known “islands” in Metro Vancouver, actually an island. Yes, Granville Island, I’m looking at you. Unlike Annacis Island, which sounds like it should be peopled with elves and giant dragonflies but is actually an industrial park, home to the sewage treatment plant, and former home to many bunnies (apparently they’ve since been culled), Westham Island does not disappoint.
A good portion of the island is farmland, and the rest is devoted to a bird sanctuary. I lived in Vancouver for years and never knew this place existed. When a friend took me there for the first time, it actually felt a little like visiting a place peopled by elves and giant dragonflies. It was utterly quiet. Houseboats border its coast. The tiny, sea-green bridge leading onto the island is wooden, one way, and turns to the side when larger water vessels need to pass under. On the way back, we stopped at an unmanned farm store and bought fresh produce via the honour system.
I realize I’m exoticizing small-town North American life. What can I say? It’s nice to be on the other side.
But I digress. Once a year, our favourite place on Westham Island, the Herb Farm (where there are non-culled bunnies, a goat-clipped front lawn, and an always-changing supply of organic, non-GMO food and some beautifully happy, friendly people) hosts A Day At the Farm. It allows non-farmers to enjoy a hay ride (I didn’t try one…disappointingly, it seemed to be a children and owner-of-children only thing, and I didn’t want to be that woman elbowing the five-year-olds, shouting “out of my way, shortie!”), check out how cows are milked (or, in the vegan’s case, stand nearby and make pointed comments about factory farming), and get free organic seed packs (yay!). There are also other freebies to be scored. Last year, we got free potatoes. Seriously. There was a stall just handing out bags of Yukon Golds. This year, it was golden beets.
I would have preferred potatoes, I thought, as I accepted the bag (peering deep into the gift horse’s gullet). The beets sat in the fridge drawer for a little while, waiting patiently, as root vegetables often agree to do. Tonight, I decided to fire up the oven (i.e., turn the little knob and get that nice flamin’ electric coil a cozy red hue) and, following the vague non-direction directions on the back of the beet bag, roast some veggies. A couple of beets, a giant garden carrot, half an onion, a tomato or two, a rosemary sprig, little thyme, pepper, salt, olive oil and balsamic vinegar into the cast-iron skillet, and into the oven, at 350 F. The recipe writers thought the lot would be done in a30-40 minutes. Aww, how cute.
An hour later, the veggies were ready. Luckily, I’ve roasted roots before, so I knew what to expect, and used their lengthy roast time to work on the novel, check email, do dishes, and make quinoa patties. The quinoa patties were bland, so I won’t even bother sharing the recipe, but the veggies turned out amazingly well. The golden beets were mild, sweet, and tasted sort of like a carrot. The balsamic vinegar and olive oil created a gorgeous, sweet, slightly sticky glaze. Totally worth the time, if you’re not in a rush for dinner.
P.s., I’m in an odd sort of mood today. I blame it on the fact that I’ve exhumed a novel written a yearish ago and am currently filling in the missing backstory, and realizing that there’s really no ending. Writing this blog, I realized two things:
1. I provided a lot of backstory here too. Yay, I must be in the right headspace! For novel writing, anyway. For blogging… er, well. It works…kinda…maybe? Hey, look over there!
2. I did not provide an ending here either. Sorry. There’s maybe a review-ish ending, but not really a narrative ending. As a consolation prize, I’ve shared the details of my photo shoot with golden beets.