There are two kitchen tools that just scare the sweet bejeezus out of me. The first is a deep fryer. Splattering bacon makes me crazy-nervous in the kitchen (horrible, irrational kitchen thoughts of grease splatters to the eyes), never mind an entire VAT of hot fryer oil, aka molten lava, in your kitchen. The way I see it, no good comes of this item…you either end up with high-calorie, fat-laden foods or a catastrophe. Hence, I do not own a fryer of any type.

The second is the demure mandoline slicer. It sounds perfectly musical and lovely with that sleek name, but one slip and there goes the tip of an appendage, right into your cole slaw. How much does this thing make me nervous? I finally bought one at Williams-Sonoma back at Christmastime but only just found the moxie to pull it out of the box and use it last night. It sat there for months, looking at me from the  cabinet, beckoning…like a devil wanting to lure you to the dark side.

CSA share #3 arrived this past Monday and in the haul were two beets. Count ’em, two! I told you that sharing-a-share had its silly moments. Like the ONE leek that we got this week, too. What am I going to do with ONE leek? This leek is crazy-long, too. If I were a band majorette, it would be the perfect, organic baton to lead the band. But no band. Alas.

I decided that this season, if any recipes were offered by the farm (which they usually are), I would try them. After all, it’s always nice when: 1. a recipe lands in your lap and 2. you actually have the ingredients for it. So, along with the beets came two recipes. The first was for roasted beets with feta, which I have made before and if you like beets, you’ll love them roasted. You’ll want to eat the entire tray. And paired with the feta, it makes a visually beautiful dish. One caveat: don’t stir this mixture. Your feta will turn a pretty ghastly pink.

The second recipe was for beet chips. On Monday, I made another batch of kale chips, so why not try transforming another vegetable into a chip (minus the use of a deep fryer)? I do love those Terra Chips, too, that you can buy…but hate that you get about 5 of them in a bag and with what they cost, that averages about seventy-five cents a chip. Let’s make my own! And this is my chance to use the….the…mandoline! I have BOTH the crazy kitchen tool AND the ingredients for this recipe. When does this actually happen? A Culinary Perfect Storm. Just no George Clooney with just the right amount of facial scruff anywhere in my kitchen. Dang.

Out comes the terrifying mandoline. Part of me wants to put the kids on alert in the event large bandages are needed, but I think better of that so as not to totally freak them out and stunt their culinary growth for all eternity.

Hello, beets (both of you). Hello, mandoline. You scare me.

This little beet chip event was tricky for several reasons. I’m trying to use this mandoline thing for the first time without slicing off my fingers AND I’m dealing with slippery raw beets that stain anything in a nano-second. Which do I sacrifice? My fingers? My counter? My dress? GAH! Given the highly pigmented nature of the veggie I’m about to slice, anyway you slice it (yes, I did just say that), the kitchen is going to look like the scene of a grisly murder. Blood or beets, there’s going to be red all over.

Slowly, tentatively, I place the first slippery bugger on the mandoline and grasp it with the shield  that is supposed to protect your fingers. The trouble is that is doesn’t work so well on a small-ish, slick, beet. Good lord. Goodbye, fingers, it’s been nice knowing you. My mind keeps flashing to my elementary school substitute art teacher who was enthralling to the kids because she was missing the top third of her ring finger on one hand because of a “bad paper slicer incident”. *shiver*

Again, good lord.

Gathering my moxie, I begin to man-do-line…..what the heck is the verb that you use with this machine, anyway? Just “slice”? That seems rather proletariat for such a specialty gadget. Ok. I slice. And slice some more, in an oddly…easy… way.

It works. Great googly-moogly, it works and I didn’t lose a finger. AND I have two sliced beets to prove it. They were sliced so beautifully, that I actually pulled out my camera and took two of the worst photos ever of beets. Between the glare of the kitchen light and the glare of the baking sheet…forget it. But, at least, there’s some kind of proof.

Which brings us to the next issue. Shrinkage. Did you know that when you put gorgeously sliced beets on a tray and pop them into a 350 oven for about 1/2 hour, they dwindle to the size of nickels and quarters? Yup. If you don’t weight the beets with another tray, this is what you get. Beet Shrinky-Dinks.

Mandolining (again, what verb?): a success.

Beet chip making: a success given that they tasted fabulous when baked and if you were to scatter them on a salad they would be a cool and unusual addition to said salad.

Not a success is that you would need about 15 pounds of them to make a bowlful. And would your fingers survive to tell the tale?

beetsbeetsmade(beet after baking on left and beet before baking on right. See, serious shrinkage)

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