Lisa Erickson mug

Have you checked out the library in the new Discovery Center in Osceola, Wisconsin? If not, you should—it’s amazing!  I went there last week to do some writing. My goal was to find a new quiet spot. The new building is beautiful and there is a space for everyone. They even have a special adult reading room or in my case a writing room. 

The room has a fireplace, a couple desks, a big wooden table, and nice chairs that aren’t too comfortable. If they were too comfortable, I wouldn’t get any work done. I’d take a nap.

The library has always been one of my favorite places in the world. When I was a kid, I road my bike to our local library at least twice a week to check out books or take a class. As an adult, I’ve gone to study, research and read up on whatever I I’ve been into at the time. I eventually had kids and brought them too. The library has been a huge part of my entire life.

I’ve heard some people say books will eventually go away. I don’t think so. I love holding a physical book in my hands. I know I’m not alone. Books are easier to read, reference, and especially easier to cook out of!

While I was at the new library, I thought about all the things I’ve learned there over the years.  One thing that stood out was how I’ve learned to be a better cook.

I have checked out hundreds of cookbooks over the years and spent countless hours scouring them, hoping to learn something new, like how to cook wild game or learn about the history of cakes in the U.S.  Libraries are amazing places. There is something for everyone—except lunch. 

Years ago, one of the first foods I remember researching was beets. I’d had a beet salad at a restaurant but couldn’t find beets at the store. Because I really liked them and wanted to know how to grow them, I went to the library and checked out 5 books on gardening. We’ve been growing beets for years now. 

Now if I can just convince the librarians to open a snack shop in the hallway so I don’t have to leave.

Library Beet Salad

Serves 4 | 400°F | Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 60 minutes

Salad:

2 large beets, greens trimmed

2 cups baby spinach

8 ounces feta cheese

1/2 red onion, sliced thin

Dressing:

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 tsp country grainy mustard

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice 

1/4 tsp garlic salt 

freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F. Wrap beets in foil and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 1 hour or until very tender. Unwrap and cool, then peel. Slice into rounds and set aside. 

Dressing: in a small bowl, mix red wine vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, and garlic salt and pepper. Whisk to combine. Set aside. 

Divide spinach between 4 plates. Top spinach with one-quarter of the beet slices. Top beets with the feta and onion. Pour dressing over each salad. Serve immediately. 

Lisa Erickson is a food columnist who loves adventure and food. You can find more recipes at www.wild-chow.com or email her at wildchowrecipes@gmail.com.

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