Monday, April 11, 2022

Springtime Happenings and a Savory Beet Tart

 "In Spring I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside 24 hours."  ~ Mark Twain

Spring in Colorado is a very changeable season. One day it is sunny 70 degrees (21.1 C) the next day it can be below freezing and snowing.  It is the only time of the year we see fog. Spring keeps us guessing, making us layer our clothes, and enjoy the emerging beauty of nature.

Pretty red-headed male finches have been singing outside my kitchen window every morning.   They are hoping to attract a mate!  We have a retractable awning over our backyard patio and this spring we hung a line of old CDs along the front of it to dangle in the wind as we are trying to discourage the birds from building nests inside the roller arms as they have done in the past.  Last year when we opened the awning in June a chickadee nest fell out with three babies in sad! I read that flashy moving objects will discourage the birds. Does anyone have other suggestions? 

We don't have a birdbath or birdfeeders in our backyard as there are black bears in our area and they love to eat birdseed.  Our local TV news this week showed a black bear coming out of its den after waking up from its winter hibernation, so now is the time to take down birdfeeders if you live near bears.

Snakes are other critters that have woken up from hibernation! They have been enjoying the hot spring sunshine. This looks like a very long bull snake but we also have rattlesnakes in our foothills. It's always good to stay alert when hiking on trails and to stay away from tall grass or near large rocks where snakes could be lurking.

The collage above was made with photos that I downloaded from public Colorado-themed Facebook groups of a famous elk stag that roamed for an estimated 13 years in Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park, Colorado.  He was affectionately nicknamed "The Big Kahuna" by many wildlife photographers and was photographed thousands of times over the years.  He sadly has seen his last spring. A few photographers saw him limping at one point and then a few others saw his carcass. A mountain lion obviously made him its kill.  It is the circle of life in nature. It was nice to see many tributes from photographers on social media to this magnificent animal. Kahuna certainly passed on his genes to many offspring during his lifetime.

I don't plant outside until late May, as we can have frost or snow until then at the 6,000 feet (1828.8 M) elevation we live at.  This year I experimented with planting seeds that I've saved over the winter, and so far tomato plants are the first to spring up!  Also sprouting are hot red Calabrian peppers. I'll soon be transplanting them into larger pots, and once it is warm they will go out on my patio surrounded by chicken wire fences to keep the wildlife from eating them.

This past weekend our community had an Easter Egg Hunt event for the children sponsored by one of the local real estate agents who also lives in our neighborhood. Our two granddaughters attended and had a wonderful time playing in the playground and collecting plastic candy-filled eggs. Our grandchildren are all growing up so fast, and I savor these days that they still want to engage in these fun childhood activities!  

Whenever I grocery shop I try to "buy a rainbow" of different vegetables for us to eat. One of our favorites is beets, as I also cook their green leaves in different recipes. This bunch of organic beets was enormous!  I placed a large tomato near the bunch to show how big they were. I used the green leaves in soup. I sliced and roasted the beetroot to eat as a vegetable side, but I had so much leftover that I looked for a recipe to make something new with the roasted beet leftovers and came upon this recipe for a "Fresh Goat Cheese, Roasted Beet, and Walnut Tart" on the Epicurious website which was delicious!  
If you are looking for a unique side dish for Easter you might be interested to try this.  The recipe is below with the adjustments I made for my preferences.

Fresh Goat Cheese, Roasted Beet, and Walnut Savory Tart

Makes one 10-inch tart; Serves 6 to 8

2 to 3 small beets
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1 recipe pie crust dough --I used premade pie crust dough but you can make your own favorite crust. 
3 large eggs
3/4 cup heavy cream  -- I used half and half
4 ounces of fresh goat cheese 
1 cup chopped walnuts (about 4 ounces)
1 tablespoon walnut oil (optional)
About 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley--I used one tablespoon of dill as I prefer that herb flavor with beets 

Step 1:
Heat the oven to 350°F. Wash the beets and dry them with a paper towel. Place the beets in a small ovenproof pan, drizzle them with the olive oil, and season with a little salt and pepper. Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake until the beets are tender when pierced with a paring knife, about 1 hour.

Step 2:
Allow the beets to cool. Peel the beets using a small knife and cut them into medium dice. (Be careful, as beet juice can stain counters, towels, and even your hands; you may want to wear gloves for this step.)

Step 3:
Heat the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion, season with a little salt, and cook, stirring every few minutes, until the onion is just tender, about 7 minutes. Add the white wine and cook for another minute, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.

Step 4:
Heat the oven to 350°F. Toss the beets and onion together and put them into the tart shell.

Step 5:
Whisk together the eggs and cream, season well with salt and pepper, and carefully pour over the beets and onion, letting the cream seep evenly into the beets. Dot the goat cheese all over the top of the tart. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake it for 20 minutes. Sprinkle the chopped walnuts on top of the tart and drizzle the walnut oil over it, if using. Return the tart to the oven and bake until just set, an additional 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle the tart with the chopped parsley and let it rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.  In my oven I needed to cook the tart for the full 40 minutes, watching to make sure the crust did not burn and the filling was set when I pieced the middle with a knife and it came out clean. 

Fresh out of the oven. I allowed it to cool a bit and then sliced it in wedges to serve.

It was delicious! 

I like savory tarts as a special side dish for dinner or as a breakfast or luncheon entree.  Here is another recipe of one I made with an assortment of roasted root vegetables

This has been a wonderful springtime at my home.  
I look forward to hearing what you have been doing--let me know in the comments below.

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diane b said...

You are a hive of industry, Easter egg hunt, cooking and potting and repotting plants. I envy your energy. Maybe Spring has sprung you into an energiser bunny. We have nice autumn weather, not too hot and not too cold. but a bit too much rain this year.

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

It's sad big Kahuna is gone but yes it is the circle of life. I'm glad he had a good life. My nephew's wife up in Michigan starts growing seeds in a closet she converted to a grow room in spring. They can have freezes in Michigan up to Memorial Day. Loved all your photos.

eileeninmd said...

Hello Pat,
We never know what our weather will be like here, changes daily. The snake is cool to see, I would keep my distance from any snake. I love the Elk photos. I might have seen The Big Kahuna while visiting Estes Park, sad to hear he passed. The Egg hunt looks like a fun time for your grandchildren. Your tart looks yummy, thanks for the recipe. Have a happy Easter Week.

Tom said...

...your first image is gorgeous and Mark Twain was spot on! Happy Easter week to you.

Sherrie said...

Sorry to hear "Big Kahunna" has passed. He's was beautiful! I like pickled beets. Since I don't can anymore, I get mine at the grocery store. Our March and part of April are our fickle months. Mother Nature can't make up its mind as to what season it is, Winter or Spring. Have a great day!

NCSue said...

Great photos and a delicious recipe to boot! Thank you so much for sharing at

Billy Blue Eyes said...

Tomatoes are coming on well, Mine are just starting. Never heard of a beetroot tart

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

I've never had a savory tart and this looks great.
The snakes are emerging here as well. They like to get on the rocks in the warm sun. They are kind of sluggish (I am told) until it warms up more.

Sharon Wagner said...

Thanks for your good wishes! RIP Big Kahuna. He was a beautiful creature. Yum. I love beets.

Janice said...

It is nice for all of the summertime parts of nature to awaken from long winter naps. Except for rattlesnakes. But they are necessary, also.

Phil Slade said...

Your weather sounds similar to our own April Showers. I like the idea of Black Bears and Rattlesnakes but perhaps because I live here in the UK where we have non bears and the most dangerous snake is an Adder.

stevebethere said...

What nice photos although I would run away if i saw that snake and run forward if i saw the lovely tart looks delicious :-)

Have a tarttastic week 👍

Jeanie said...

Apart from the snake, your spring sightings are lovely. We did an egg hunt with the boys yesterday as we celebrated Easter early. Such fun. I'm not big on beets but I have to say, that tart is a stunner!

Hena Tayeb said...

Have never had a beet tart before. Sounds intriguing.
Those moose are glorious.

Ruth Hiebert said...

Spring can bring so many changes and that mostly in the weather. We are gearing up for a major blizzard in a day or so. Could get interesting .

William Kendall said...

Most snakes in my province are non venomous. We do have rattlesnakes, but they are rare and keep away from people.

Veronica Lee said...

Glorious photos as always, Pat.

That beet tart looks delish!

Happy Tuesday!

Angie said...

Pat - we have been experiencing that changeable weather first hand! Thursday I was out in the garden, planting some seeds, fertilizing and generally tidying. Sunday night, we got six inches of snow! We went skiing today as part of the Employee Ski Day on the mountain. It was terrific! I loved the Easter egg hunt photos! And I like the look of that tart. Thanks for linking to Mosaic Monday!

Glenda Cates said...

I enjoyed seeing your pictures and all the Animals except for the Snake. As for Beets I love Beets, but my family doesn't so it wouldn't do for me to make the recipe even thought it sounds good.

Bill said...

The first photo is absolutely beautiful. I love the Mark Twain quote.

carol l mckenna said...

Wonderful post filled with beautiful photos ~ love the grand kids New England has the same changeable weather in Spring ~ Xo

Wishing you laughter and love in your days,

A ShutterBug Explores,
aka (A creative Harbor)

ellen b. said...

That savory tart looks delish! Great photos!

Lorrie said...

The beet tart looks so interesting and delicious. We grow beets and I'm always looking for new recipes to use them. Weather is certainly changeable just now. This morning snow fell here at sea level. It didn't stick, but it's certainly chilly. Now the sun is shining, but it's still cold. We can't do much about the weather, so we have to enjoy it all!

Linda said...

Your opening picture is gorgeous. Several times I have had my birdfeeders destroyed by bears in April. I learned the hard way that I have to stop feeding the birds when the Bears start wandering around.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Lovely photos in your post, especially the red-headed finch!

If you put up bird boxes it might help stop the birds nesting where you don't want them to nest?

Spring is also very changeable here in Scotland, "four seasons in one day" is a local saying for April

Nancy Chan said...

We are having a mixture of sunny and rainy days. We have tried hanging CD in our garden to keep the birds away but after they have gotten used to it, the CDs no longer bother them. Beautiful elks. I am thinking of growing tomatoes again. Looks like very enjoyable Easter event for the kids. Beautiful beet tart. Wish I could have a piece. Lol!

Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

It sounds like you are enjoying the spring! Your tart looks and sounds delicious.

Keith's Ramblings said...

A delightful piece celebrating Spring and all it brings us.

Lowcarb team member said...

Oh my!
Your Fresh Goat Cheese, Roasted Beet, and Walnut Tart looks delicious :)

Happy Easter Wishes.

All the best Jan

Yvonne said...

I feel the same about the weather here in Tennessee. I lived in Colorado Springs years ago, and sowing vegetable seed directly into the ground created amazing gardens. I miss that. Here the quantity of rain hinders the raised beds more than helps. I find it a challenge. Enjoyed reading your post.

Ed Dzitko said...

I know from personal experience some of the great views out there in Colorado. Never get tired of seeing different perspectives from the midwest.

Michelle said...

I enjoy savory flavors and your tart looks wonderful. Thanks for linking up and have a blessed Easter weekend.

Spare Parts and Pics said...

RIP Kahuna. I had no idea bears liked birdseed!

Penelope Notes said...

Not only a delicious but nutritious recipe. I’ve never seen beets used in this way. Sorry to know an iconic elk was lost. Also, your CD solution is creative. Perhaps some form of netting might help? I once bunched up plastic bags surrounding an overhead patio lamp to keep birds from nesting and it worked.

New Jersey Memories said...

That tart really sounds wonderful. I have always liked beets and have grown to like goat cheese!

Light and Voices said...

Greetings and Salutations Pat! Enjoy those grandchildren while you can. All of a sudden they are off to college and jobs and you are wondering where did the time go. LOL! I like beets. My husband, does not. So I don't have them often.

eileeninmd said...

Hello and Happy Easter Pat! I enjoyed your critters, the pretty House Finches, the elk and even the snake are all great. The Easter Egg hunt looks like a fun time with your grandchildren. Thanks for sharing the Tart recipe.
Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, enjoy your weekend. PS, thank you for leaving me a comment.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I haven't bought beets in a long time and they sound good. Thanks for the recipe. I need to go to the farmer's mkt and get some fresh veggies. Love seeing all of your critters...well....most of them! lol Take care and enjoy your weekend!

Villrose said...

Isn't this typical April?
Lovely bird! I don't want to see a snake.
The tart looks delicious. I will copy the recipie :)

NatureFootstep said...

such a sweet little red-headed finch :) You seem to have great wildlife in your area. :) Our snakes are also awaken now. We have one that has toxic but it is rare that someone gets bitten. :)
Love your elks :)

Theresa @ Shoestring Elegance said...

Hi Pat, Thank you so much for sharing with us at the Thursday Favorite Things party! I love your beets and your recipe! I have several varieties growing now and will be pinning your recipe to try! I'm featuring you this week at Shoestring Elegance. Thanks, again!

Rambling Woods said...

Flashy objects may or may not deter birds. You could try hanging mylar windsocks or mylar ribbons where you don't want nesting...Michelle

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Colorado weather is changeable in the Fall too, as we have found out (actually I think we've visited the state in pretty much every season and loved it all -- but you do definitely need to dress in layers!) We enjoy goat cheese anything and that tart sounds wonderful. Roasting is definitely the way to go with vegetables!