Okay, this is a different kind of post for me. If I had a cooking or gardening blog (which I do not), it would be more suitable there, but here goes nothing!
Beets. They are absolutely gorgeous, aren’t they? Those brilliant purple-red roots; or gold, or pink if you are lucky enough to spot a candycane beet from time to time, are so pretty I wish I liked to eat them. Now, if only they tasted as good as they look, all would be well. To me, though, they taste like dirt, or iron, coated in sugar. Not a pleasant thing at all.
So, someone is bound to ask me why that is a problem for me, at 46? I am no longer the child of 9, sitting at the dinner table, fork hovering over that beautiful purple slice of vegetable that I will gag on as I try to eat it. One word: CSA. I have a membership to a CSA (community-sponsored agriculture), which gives me access to loads of fresh, organic, local produce. Unfortunately, that also includes beets.
I love the greens. They are so good sautéed with a little olive oil and garlic. It is those jewel-toned roots I can’t stand. I cannot, however, throw out a vegetable which has been grown for consumption. My parents were depression babies, and the thought of all that waste would sicken them. Not to mention, they both liked beets, which is why I had to eat my “no thank you” helpings every summer, right from their garden.
As an adult, I have overcome a lot of my food phobias. I now eat Brussels sprouts and eggplant, and have come to love their flavors. Not beets. So, yesterday, in desperation, I looked up a recipe for a beet cake. Yes. A cake made from shredded raw beets. My theory was, if it tasted like a dirt cake with cream cheese frosting, all I had done was waste some sugar, eggs, and flour.
Guess what? We loved it. I would never call this healthy (way too much oil and sugar for that), but as an indulgence, it was wonderful. My son (who hates most vegetables) even asked me to make this cake for his birthday at the end of this month. The recipe, adapted from food.com, follows:
Eat Your Vegetables Caaaaake (the multiple A’s are for all the beta carotene that has to be in this cake)
2 cups sugar (I used brown, not packed)
1 cup canola oil
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice (or nutmeg)
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups shredded fresh beets
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup chopped walnuts (or almonds)
Heat oven to 350 °, grease and flour 13×9 baking pan. Beat eggs, sugar and oil until light and fluffy. Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and spices. Add to egg mixture and mix well. Add vanilla, beets, carrots and nuts. Beat for 1 minute on medium speed. Pour into pan, bake for 45 minutes, or until a pick comes out clean.