It’s kind of amazing the difference a couple of days can make! Even since last week, I’m getting back to some sense of normalcy at work and it feels fantastic. I even had time to (sort of) organize my desk. I feel like a lot of stress can come from something that is easily fixed, like a disaster of a desk. My problem is that my job involves completing a lot of small tasks for a lot of different people each day, so most of the time that means I have a whirlwind of receipts, invoices, computer parts and new equipment strewn all over my desk. It’s hard to keep things tidy when a new item or piece of paper finds itself on my desk every 10 minutes. I’m one of those people who gets things really nice and organized one day and the next day it’s like I did nothing at all. I always tell myself that this time, I’m going to keep it neat, but I already have two post-it notes on my monitor, which we all know is how it starts. Dun dun dunnn.
Anyway, I feel like I’m finally on the way to having things at work be as they were before the move, so that’s good. A lot of fun stuff is coming up on the blog, too. A friend of mine, along with Kramer, of course, is working on some updates and fixes to make the user experience a little better, and I’ve been doing some really exciting freelance work lately. It keeps me busy, as if I need help with that, but it’s also a good exercise in pushing myself to become a better photographer. I’ve never taken a class or anything like that – photography is just something I’ve slowly taught myself over the years. I clearly still have a lot to learn, but the best way to learn is by doing, or so it has been explained to me. Freelance work gives me the opportunity to become a better businesswoman, which is clearly what I am, despite what appearances and television watching habits may make you think otherwise. Another bonus: I get to eat everything I shoot! I’m basically on a non-stop snacking mission whenever I’ve got something to photograph, which is obviously something I am very, very good at. In that same vein, allow me to introduce you to the line of recipes that I’ve worked on with Vlasic Farmer’s Garden. They’ve launched a line of artisanal pickles, and I have to say, they’re pretty tasty! Vlasic had a number of recipes that they asked myself and a few other bloggers to photograph for them, so I hope that you enjoy what I’m able to present to you.
The first recipe is for a fresh summer herb salad, made with arugula, beets, feta cheese and pickled vegetables from a jar of Vlasic Dill Halves, which I have to say, is a really good idea to do. One of my favorite restaurants will present a bowl of pickled vegetables to the table instead of the usual bread and butter, which is genius because salty and crunchy always go well with a drink. The vinaigrette for this salad also uses pickle brine from the jar, which I know my pickleback loving friends will really enjoy. This bright, seasonal salad made for a delicious lunch for Kramer and myself over the course of the week – I especially loved the earthy beets combined with the zesty pickled veggies and creamy feta cheese. Farmer’s Garden has also introduced the Savor Simplicity Sweepstakes, which will award three lucky winners with a prize package valued at $1,500! The Sweepstakes will run online from May 7 – July 31, 2014. At the end of each month, Farmer’s Garden will also draw one winner who will receive a summer entertaining package. You can enter up to once per week for a chance to win, and earn additional entries by sharing online with friends. Join the conversation by following @FarmersGarden and by using #FarmToJar – I especially recommend doing this because one of my photos is on the top of their Twitter page, which was a great surprise to wake up to this morning.
Pick just the leaves from your herbs. I used tarragon and oregano.
Then mince them finely.
Add them to your dressing ingredients.
Let your roasted beets cool while you finish up the salad, then chop them into bite-sized pieces.
Bloody beet hands can be fun!
Toss everything together and enjoy.
- ¼ cup pickle brine from jar
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh parsley, basil, oregano, tarragon and/or cilantro
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 beets, roasted, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (instructions below)
- 12 ounces baby arugula
- ½ cup celery leaves (optional, but they really add a bright flavor)
- ¼ crumbled feta cheese
- Pickled vegetables from jar of Farmer’s Garden® by Vlasic® Dill Halves, cut into bite sized pieces
- 4 Farmer’s Garden® by Vlasic® Dill Halves, cut into bite sized pieces
- First, roast your beets. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Clean and trim your beets, then rub well with olive oil. Wrap the beets in foil packets, then place on a baking tray and roast for 30 minutes or so, until tender. Allow the beets to cool slightly, then use your hands (with or without gloves on - they will stain your hands) to peel off the skins. Chop into 1-inch cubes and set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together vinaigrette ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Arrange arugula, celery leaves, beets, pickles, vegetables and feta in salad bowl. Toss with vinaigrette and serve immediately.