Saturday, August 21, 2010
RECONCILING WITH BEETS
There are beets in my refrigerator. I still can't believe it. I'm sure that I vowed I would never eat them again. Beets have been on my "not fit for human consumption" list since 1968. I wanted no part of them. As a child the routine at the dinner table generally went like this: "Just try it. How do you know you don't like it if you don't try it? Just eat a little, and if you don't want it, then put it aside". My twisted face and tears weren't enough to get me out of having to taste the beets. I took a big bite--an entire rubbery slice. My little body shook like Lucy Ricardo's when she took her first taste of Vitameatavegemin. I concluded years ago that beets were horrible and I would not forget it. I didn't care HOW they were prepared or who prepared them. I didn't care if they were a cure for everything that ailed me. But if I was ever going to get out of seeing them on my plate again, I had to show my parents that I at least made an effort to try them. In our house, food was not to be thrown away. Daddy had too many stories about all of the things that my grandmother put into a pot. "We had to eat whatever was running," he often said. (My Dad has a very particular palate to this day.) Throwing away food was tantamount to a criminal offense when I was young. There were too many starving children in Africa, I was told. I now know there are too many starving children in America, too, but neither pronouncement made me want to be a friend of beets.
Fast forward to 2010. I'm creeping up on 50 very quickly. I have found myself eating things I used to decline. Yogurt. Broccoli. Cauliflower. Cabbage. Tomato Juice. I'm finding myself more and more interested, lately, in what my body needs, while not totally depriving myself of what my taste buds want.
The Jack LaLanne juicer has started something wonderful. (I recall watching him when I was a little girl at my maternal grandmother's home in Addis, Louisiana. He's still around, and still preaching the gospel of good health.) There are a lot more varieties of fruits and vegetables in the kitchen, now. Every day is like an experiment to see what goes well with what. I still can't believe I have consumed a beet. The juice is beautiful in color. That's what beets were good for as far as I was concerned--color. They were art supplies, not food.
My daughter juiced eggplant (we know now not to do that again), sweet potato, spinach, squash, apple, and orange. It wasn't Coca Cola, but it gave us the distinct feeling that our bodies were grateful. The pulp that the fruit and veggies yielded just seemed too abundant to throw away. I'd kept the pulp from the lemon, orange, apple, strawberries, grapefruit experiment we did one day, and used some of it when I prepared salmon.
As I stared at the pulp that included the beets, for the first time in my life I was excited about the prospect of a veggie burger. I don't know if it was the redness of the pulverized beet that made me think of ground meat, or not. All I know is that I put half of the pulp in a bowl, and seasoned it with onion, rosemary, celery seed, seasoned salt. I cracked 2 eggs, and made bread crumbs from 2 hamburger buns that had been languishing in the refrigerator. The more I mixed, the more my brain believed it was meat. My taste buds would be the judge, though. I formed the patties, heated a pan, got the vegetable oil and was pleased by the aroma. When they were done, I toasted some wheat bread, topped the burger with mustard and a little barbecue sauce, cut the sandwich in half and tried it. it wasn't an Angus burger, but it really wasn't bad! I mixed the rest of the pulp with tomato paste, and the spaghetti I made on another day was good, too. Am I considering becoming a vegetarian? Probably not. But I am happy with the notion that days aren't going by without my feeding myself something fresh and chock full of nutrients.
This afternoon, I went into the refrigerator and looked at the lone, remaining beet. I STILL can't believe there is a beet in my home on purpose! There was a generous bunch of greens and the stems from the other 3 that we juiced a few days ago. I'd asked my daughter to save the skins from the sweet potato and the squash thinking that I would fry them. Instead, I checked online to see if beet greens were edible. Maybe that's something that I was already supposed to know, but my aversion to beets kept me from wanting to know anything at all about them. Egglesscooking.com had a good article, and gave me the go ahead. I still wasn't ready to cook them as if they were collards, mustards or kale, though. Maybe another day. I chopped up the beet greens, stems, and the skins and prepared it all for another round of veggie burgers. I still don't like beets, but they're fine all tangled up with a lot of something else, and that wonderful, rich color is something that I can't bring myself to hate. I even considered saving some of the beet juice and dyeing my tennis shoes. I can't seem to get rid of the yellowish stain where the rubber meets the canvas. I'm sure there's something on the internet for that, too.
It has actually been fun-- this aim to get the recommended daily requirement of fruit and vegetables. I like my new habit. Maybe by NEXT summer, I'll really appreciate the effort...: )