...Growing, Building, Cooking, Preserving, Crafting...

2006 began our urban homestead when I broke ground on a garden, which now includes perennial fruits, flowers, & many vegetable varieties. We dream of solar panels, keeping bees and hens. Until then we'll continue growing and preserving our own fruits and vegetables, building what we can for our home, cooking from scratch, and crafting most days.


We've Got the Beets

One advantage of having a spouse who also works in the line of food is that there's never a shortage of it being brought into our home.  Ben works for SHARE (he loves it when people say, "You work for CHER!!!"), a monthly volunteer-run food-buying club.  One of their offerings is a selection of organic produce and he often purchases some of the month's surplus.  Last month he brought home a case of red beets, sans greens.  I love beets and was excited about this home delivery, but after a week of beet salads, beet juice, and roasted beets I became a bit overwhelmed with what I would do with the whole case as I tried to store them in our unreliably cool basement.  Today I finally decided to move forward and process them.  This weekend I plan to can pickled beets, tonight for dinner I prepared a salad with walnuts, blue cheese, and maple horseradish glazed beets (see recipe below), and tomorrow I plan to make one of my favorite cakes--chocolate beet, which is great for sneaking veggies into kids' meals with them suspecting a thing--as long as the chocolate's there.  (Personally, you could cover my shoe in chocolate and I'd probably go for it.)  Enjoy these beet recipes.  And if you love them as much as me, keep your eyes peeled for local beets at the farmers' markets.

Maple Horseradish Glazed Beets
(I believe this recipe originally appeared in Gourmet magazine)
Serves 4

I tossed these beets with fresh salad greens, toasted walnuts, crumbled blue cheese, and a basic balsamic vinaigrette.  Add a little of the horseradish/maple sauce to the vinaigrette before tossing if you want.  The hot beets will slightly wilt the salad, but I like this effect.  You could also chill them before tossing.

1 3/4 lbs. medium red beets (3 3/4 lbs. with greens), stems trimmed to 1 inch
1/2 stick (1/4 c.) unsalted butter
3 T. bottled horseradish (not drained)
2 1/2 T. maple syrup
2 1/2 T. cider vinegar
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Put beets in a roasting pan and cover with foil.  Roast until tender, about 1 hour.  When cool enough to handle, peel beets and cut into eighths,  then transfer to a bowl.  Melt butter with horseradish, syrup, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a heavy skillet over moderate heat.  Stir in beets and boil, stirring occasionally, until liquid in skillet is reduced to about 1/4 c. and beets are coated, 4 to 5 min.

Chocolate Beet Cake
Adapted from MACSAC's Asparagus to Zucchini
Makes 10 servings

2 c. granulated sugar (or xylitol)
2 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
3-4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
4 large eggs
1/4 c. oil (or 2 T. applesauce + 2 T. oil)
3 c. shredded beets (raw or roasted)

Heat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease two 9-inch cake pans.  Whisk dry ingredients together. Melt chocolate very slowly over low heat or in double boiler.  Cool chocolate; blend thoroughly with eggs and oil.  Combine flour mixture with chocolate mixture, alternating with the beets.  Pour into pans.  Bake until fork can be removed from center cleanly, 40-50 min.

Note: Eat plain, dust with powdered sugar, or decorate with your favorite icing.  I like to prepare a basic white buttercream and toss in a freshly cut raw beet to create a pink color.  Remove the beet chunk before frosting.

So, once we've eaten all that cake, we need some exercise, right?  I used to be like that, but now I figure it all evens out.  But speaking of exercise, I have to share my bicycling experiences lately.  I've been on a kick since Bike to Work Week (a couple posts ago).  One of the most practical gifts we received when we were trying not to accumulate too much baby "stuff" almost two years was a bike trailer.  Ben and I were just appreciating it the other night as we biked to get ice cream--we've vowed that we can only go out for Babe's (where the owner told us we were officially regulars) if we bike to get it.  It's great for doing errands that are slightly out of walking distance.  We have a Chariot--not that I'm trying to sell a certain brand--that can double as a stroller if you buy that attachment.  This thing got us through the cold, icy winter months because it has an attached plastic cover to keep Vera out of the elements.  It kept us sane, especially in January and February because we could get out for a walk most days.  And though we don't use it as much in the summer as a stroller (b/c its size can be cumbersome), it came in handy today when I wanted to walk a big grocery trip, which included picking up a bag of charcoal.  It's a double so if I buckle Vera to one side, she can ride shotgun with the hardwood (only if it's being used just as a stroller...this is not recommended in bike mode.)  I packed everything else into the huge back pouch and the area beneath the passenger's feet (again, only if you're strolling).  When we requested this item on our registry, we opted for the double even if there would only be one kid b/c Ben figured he could tote his cooler (of who knows what) in the other seat.  It's come in handy for that and much more.  I'm absolutely not an advocate of having all the boatloads of baby "gear" (to put it nicely), but if you're trying to get around the city without a car and you have a kid or two, I highly recommend a bike trailer.  For me, it's a great way to get from point A to point B AND get some exercise, which is a challenge for a busy mama.


  1. Maple. Horseradish. Beets. I love you! I made something beety somewhat recently with maple/balsamic vinegar dressing to top it, and loved the combination. Horseradish is up there on my list of things I love, so I have to try this very soon - thanks for posting it!

  2. I'm totally making this!! I did the avocado chocolate pudding and my dad loved it!!! He hates avocados!!! XO P.S. Love the new layout!!