Thursday, March 3, 2011

And the Beet Goes On

[Jitterbug_Perfume.jpg]"The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.
Slavic peoples get their physical characteristics from potatoes, their smoldering inquietude from radishes, their seriousness from beets.
The beet is the melancholy vegetable, the one most willing to suffer. You can't squeeze blood out of a turnip...
The beet is the murderer returned to the scene of the crime. The beet is what happens when the cherry finishes with the carrot. The beet is the ancient ancestor of the autumn moon, bearded, buried, all but fossilized; the dark green sails of the grounded moon-boat stitched with veins of primordial plasma; the kite string that once connected the moon to the Earth now a muddy whisker drilling desperately for rubies.
The beet was Rasputin's favorite vegetable. You could see it in his eyes."
~Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

Hethyr:  Tom Robbins is, by far, my favorite fiction author.  He's weird, funny, smart, ridiculous, thought-provoking, insane, etc.  I can't get enough of his books (I've read most of them several times) and Jitterbug Perfume, which centers around - you guessed it - BEETS, is my all-time favorite.  If you're interested or at least confused enough to be curious, you should check it out.

Although my number-one read has beets as an underlying theme, I am actually NOT a big fan of beets at all. My dad loves them and my mom hates them because she thinks they taste like dirt and, oddly, I fall somewhere in beet-ween.  I guess I don't mind the taste of dirt as much as my mom and my dad loves the taste of dirt?  Hmm...

Anyway, since I'm not a hater and I'm not a lover, there are select few recipes that I really like that include beets.  However, this is the one vegetable that we have in massive quantities nearly all year round.  I can never keep up with using them as quickly as we receive them, so I roast, peel and purée them, then freeze them in 1/4-cup portions in muffin tins.  Once frozen, I place the "muffins" in freezer-safe, airtight containers and thaw them as I need them.  I usually use the beet purée in actual muffins and, as promised in an earlier post, I'll give you a couple of those recipes now...

Dark Chocolate-Beet Mini-Muffins
Makes 24 mini-muffins
  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (decrease to 1 teaspoon for high altitude)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (decrease to 1/4 teaspoon for high altitude)
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 cup roasted, puréed beets
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup (real) maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F.  In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (flour through cocoa powder).  In a separate large bowl, whisk together remaining wet ingredients (beets through vanilla).  Gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, mixing well (but don’t over-mix).  Spoon batter into greased mini-muffin tins, filling muffins cups about 2/3 full.  Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.  If desired, wrap individually and freeze in freezer bags.

Sweet Beet Muffins
Dark Chocolate-Beet Minis & Sweet Beet Muffins
Makes 12 regular muffins
  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (reduce to 1/2 teaspoon for high altitude)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (reduce to 1/2 teaspoon for high altitude)
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted and chopped
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins

Preheat oven to 350°F.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and almonds.  In a separate large bowl, whisk together brown sugar, oil, milk, applesauce and vanilla.  Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, then gently fold in the golden raisins.  Spoon batter into greased muffin tins, filling muffin cups about 2/3 full.  Bake for approximately 18-20 minutes or until tops are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.  If desired, wrap individually and freeze in freezer bags.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Jon:  I know I can't compete with the rhetoric of Tom Robbins so I'm not really going to try.  But I will point out that it seems like we always have beets in the house and it is one of Hethyr's greatest skills that she continues to make interesting and delicious food out of these "melancholy" plant roots.  Whether it's beet muffins, beet pizza, beet and goat cheese ("bloody goat spread" as we call it) or some other beet edible, Hethyr can definitely take the boredom out of the beet.

The Albert Pujols of beets
I recently stopped by our CSA pick-up location and unloaded our monthly winter veggie bounty consisting of beets, onions, squash, potatoes, beans, leeks and flour.  There was an incredible number of beets... so many that dozens were dumped in the trade box.  I didn't blame the traders one bit, because not only were there piles of beets all over the place but many were the size of small watermelons.  Who says a vegetable can't grow to monolithic proportions without the aid of performance enhancing drugs?  Just a little dirt, water, sunshine and love can apparently produce a beet the size of your head. They even get pretty hairy when they get that big, much like Rasputin's beard. But in the end, it's what's on the inside the really counts.


  1. Great blog, folks! I've never read anything so entertaining about a root veggie! Great stuff!
    And I think "Root Veggie" would be a cool name for a rock band. --george

  2. Even if I'm not a beet lover, I still love your blog! And who knows, if a beet mysteriously lands on my doorstop, I might even try the Dark Chocolate-Beet Muffins, as they sound delicious except for one ingredient. :-)

  3. George - so glad you're enjoying the blog! We have a lot of fun writing it!

    Mom, funny you should say that as beets mysteriously show up on the characters' doorsteps in "Jitterbug Perfume!" =)

  4. Am I going crazy or did we share a few emails or FB posts about goat's cheese and beet spread...??? Man do I miss having a kitchen... these beetniks (I think that's what you should call beet muffins) sound amazing, and I could convert them to GF beetniks no problem! I don't think I liked beets until about 6 or 7 years ago. I remember after roasting, peeling and slicing one for the first time. It was a cathartic moment... I looked at that colour and the annuli rings and then way the colour bled onto my hands and stained them... and I was almost in tears thinking that nature could make something that's physical appearance (like you guys mentioned) on the outside was so rough and gruff, but on the inside the most brilliant colour found in nature! They do taste a bit dirt-like, but I think that makes me like them more!

    P.S. The candy-cane striped ones and the golden beets... also amazing, but nothing "beets" that dark red/magenta colour... nothing!

  5. Jodie, yes! That recipe that you sent me is what we have fondly named "Bloody Goat Spread." Nice, huh? =) I must agree with you that the physical appearance of beets is extremely appealing - and who knows, maybe the taste will grow on me... I have to admit that I never even tried a beet until I was at least 30 (my mom hates them and she did most of the cooking while I was growing up!). I made the Dark Chocolate-Beet Minis (or "Beetniks" - I like it!) again this weekend and doubled the recipe and we've polished off about half of them already! =)