Eat Your Beets!

I grew up eating lots of beets and fortunately I married a man who loved them as much as I did.  What we loved, though, were pickled beets right out of the jar.  Mine came from the grocery store, but Joe’s were pickled and preserved by his mother.  Needless to say, I learned how to pickle my own!  

Later in life, I learned to love warm Harvard Beets, and even later, Joe and I grew to love roasted beets with just a little salt and pepper and fresh herbs.

I recently bought some pretty golden beets at our fresh produce market.  You can boil beets, but I wrap them in foil and bake them.  When I make lots of them to pickle or freeze, I use my regular oven, but for the few I made this time, I used my countertop Nuwave.  Four big beets took about 45 minutes. (When you work with red beets, it is smart to protect your countertop, cutting boards and your hands!  Wear rubber gloves!)

Beets are a wonderful source of magnesium and iron.  Iron is good for our blood, so we need to eat lots of beets.  Unlike red beets, golden beets are delicious eaten raw.  Thinly sliced, shredded, or spiralized … all make beautiful additions to salads. 

Beets are vintage!  There is no doubt about that.  We know that the Egyptians grew beets, primarily for the greet tops.  In the 1500s, Italians and Germans cultivated beets and began using the actual root.  In the early 1800s, it was realized that beets were a source of sugar.  Sugar beets competed against sugar cane and sugar cane won!  There are still many places where sugar is made from beets and Russia leads that production.

The recipe I’m sharing today is so simple, but you won’t believe how flavorful it is!  Plan to serve it as a side dish with a pot roast Sunday dinner!  Actually, it is good topping a lettuce salad … and as a side dish with most anything!  I like to include warm beets on mixed salads, too.  A salad of mixed greens with roasted beets, grilled chicken, pecans and feta cheese (or bleu cheese) makes a tasty salad.  Use the vinaigrette recipe I’m sharing today!

Pomegranate Molasses Vinaigrette

Whisk together 4 Tablespoons of Pomegranate molasses with 3 Tablespoons of balsamic glaze, a Tablespoon of Dijon mustard and 2 Tablespoons of honey.  Drizzle in ½ cup of olive oil.  That’s it!  I purchase Pomegranate molasses online, and balsamic glaze is available in most supermarkets.

This post is a part of my 2020 Vintage Vegetable food project.  If you'd like to see similar posts, just visit the 'Vintage Vegetables' page.  I'll be sharing this post with a couple blog parties, so make sure you check my sidebar and visit those sites, too.

The Humble Turnip!

Turnips aren’t just vintage!  They are ancient!  We know they were eaten by the Romans at the beginning of the Christian Era. They were easy to cultivate, so they spread to many places.  

I’ll take you back to the time Henry VIII.  Turnips were on the menu!   They boiled and baked the turnip roots.  They stewed the turnip tops and made ‘salat’ from the tender-most greens!  

The turnip came to Canada in 1541 by the French explorer, Jacques Cartier.  Colonists brought the turnip to Virginia in the 1620s and the Native Americans adopted it and it became commonly grown. 

Some call the turnip ‘humble’.  I call it delicious.  I am a huge fan.  I also call it, inexpensive, easy to store and a bargain in the kitchen.  It is filled with vitamins and nutrients, and like so many other vintage vegetables, it is at the top of the healthy eating list!

There are many things to do with a turnip, and let’s not forget that the Irish used turnips to carve for jack o’ lanterns, long before the pumpkin debuted on All Hallows Eve!  The vintage recipes for cooking turnips in a pot with onion and smoked pork are all over cyber land.  You can use a ring of kielbasa, pork ribs, or bacon. 

You can add a turnip to your boiling potatoes and mash it right along with the spuds.  You can add a turnip, sliced thin, to the casserole of au gratin potatoes. Make sure you cube a turnip to add to your favorite version of vegetable soup. Roast chunks of turnip in the oven and let the sugar in them caramelize.  Delicious! Add julienne strips of turnip to a fresh salad.  Shred a turnip for a fantastic spice cake!  Yes!

I’m going to share two recipes with you.  This beautiful baked turnip is stuffed with sausage, breadcrumbs and Gouda cheese.  It is so easy, and it is important to note that I used left over breakfast sausage and a couple biscuits as my breadcrumbs! 

Use medium sized raw turnips. Cut the top off and scoop out most of the center.  Leave a half- inch thick shell.  Chop the part that you scoop out.  Mix it with some cooked sausage, breadcrumbs.  Stuff that mixture back into the turnip.  Top it with a pat of butter and a chunk of Gouda cheese.  Havarti cheese or Swiss cheese would be good, too.   

Add a little bit of water to the roasting pan and cover it with foil.  The water will steam the turnips and help them cook through.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 – 40 minutes, depending upon the size of the turnips.  Remove the foil and finish baking for another ten minutes, so the tops get crispy.  These are delicious and look beautiful plated or served on a big platter.  Enjoy!

I first featured this cake recipe in one of my Made at Home newspaper cooking columns in 2010, but I have shared it over and over again!  It is delicious and you’ll want to try it.  Nobody will know that there is a turnip in the batter! 

Turnip Spice Cake with Lemon Glaze

1¾ cups granulated sugar 
3 eggs 
1 cup olive oil 
2 teaspoons almond extract

2 cups flour 
1 teaspoon baking powder 
½ teaspoon baking soda 
1 teaspoon salt 
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
1 teaspoon ground ginger 
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
2 cups shredded, peeled turnip

1 cup finely chopped walnuts

Lemon Glaze: 
¼ cup fresh lemon juice 
1/2 cup granulated sugar 
1 cup powdered sugar

Whip together the sugar, eggs, olive oil and almond extract.  Add the dry ingredients a little at a time and whip until well blended.  Stir in the turnip and walnuts.   Pour into a prepared 10- inch tube pan and bake at 350 degrees for 40 – 50 minutes until a pick inserted comes out clean.  Cool the cake for 20 minutes before inverting.   Mix the glaze ingredients until smooth and brush a little over the warm cake.   Reserve the remaining glaze to pour over each piece of cake when serving.

I'll be sharing this post with a couple parties, so make sure you check my sidebar for the list!  If you'd like to see other posts from my Vintage Vegetables series, just click the page in my menu!  Enjoy ... and eat your vegetables!

Carrots with Pepper Bleu Cheese Sauce

Why do you serve carrots to your family?  Because they are filled with fiber and nutrients?  Because they are colorful and look pretty on the plate?  Because they are sweet enough for the kids to like them?

Do you cook them same way all the time?  Do you boil them and add a little butter?  Do you include them in pot roast, stews and soups?  Of course.  We all do!  I’ve also added roasting them with a drizzle of olive oil to my go-to recipes.

I’m convinced that we would enjoy this very old vegetable more, if we found different ways to prepare them!  They are very old!  According to, they have been around since 3000 BC.  In keeping with my food project title, Vintage Vegetables, I have to say that carrots are more than vintage!  Some refer to them as old world.  They certainly are, but they have remained a sustainable vegetable into this new world

Carrots or Queen Anne’s Lace?  Wild carrots have a parsnip-type root. Those wild things are referred to as Queen Anne’s Lace today, but that doesn’t make me want to dig up the roots of those pretty highway roadside wildflowers.  I’ll settle for the carrots … in any color … that I can buy at the market … more enjoyably at the outdoor Farmers’ markets!

Let’s not forget how versatile the carrot is.  We’ve all made carrot salads, carrot cakes and carrot muffins.  We enjoy eating them raw, and I’ve never seen a child refuse them if there is Ranch Dip available! 

Another important note about carrots is that they adapt nicely to the flavors of herbs.  Add a handful of fresh basil leaves to the pan while you simmer baby carrots and the flavor changes considerably.  Add dill or cilantro and you have two additional flavors.  A spritz of lemon juice with the dill and lime juice with the cilantro, and you’ll make your carrots even better.  Please set the salt and pepper aside and try something new!  Just because carrots are old world doesn’t mean we can’t bring them to this millennium! 

This recipe couldn't be easier ... and it is such a tasty way to prepare this very vintage vegetable!  There is a shortcut, too!

Roast the carrots in a drizzle of olive oil in a 400 degree oven.  Use a heavy sheet pan or roasting pan. Sprinkle  It shouldn't take more than 20 minutes to reach a tender state.  Roasting caramelizes the carrots and that browned color makes the vegetables more appetizing.

The sauce is so simple.  Saute chopped red and green bell peppers in a little butter.  You can use from 1/4 to 1/2 cup of peppers.  When they are soft, simply stir in 1/2 cup of your favorite bleu cheese salad dressing.  Pour it over the warm carrots and serve them.  The buttery cheesy sauce adds a savory note to the carrots.  It is so simple and delicious.  Enjoy!

I'll share this with a couple blog parties so make sure you click through to see the other posts.

This post is a part of my Vintage Vegetables food project for 2020.  If you want to see other posts, just visit the Vintage Vegetables page.

Fennel & Chicken

I was fifty years old before I had tasted fennel!  I'm a cook, but fennel had never interested me, until a friend described its fresh flavor. I had looked at lots of recipes for baked fish dishes that included fennel, but that combination of fish and licorice didn't interest me! I'm still not crazy about fish and fennel, but I'm crazy about fennel!

Fennel is an ingredient in many recipes from the Middle East, but it is  also used in many German salads, and fennel seed is a primary ingredient in the flavoring of Italian sausages. The bulb, the feathery leaves and the seeds are used in cooking.

Sheet pan meals are featured in probably thousands of websites!  I found recipes for Roast Chicken and Fennel in various places and made it my own.  You should do that, too.  Use my recipe as inspiration, but make it your own!

Just look how fresh these three ingredients look!  A pretty red onion, a lemon and the fennel make a fantastic foundation of flavor.

In addition to these ingredients, I used a baby carrots, tiny potatoes and 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

Seasonings included Paul Prudhomme's Poultry Seasoning, salt and pepper.

Clean the fennel and slice the bulb. Slice the lemon and the onion.  In a sheet pan, place the vegetables and drizzle them with a little olive oil.  Lay the chicken pieces on top of the fennel, drizzle oil on the chicken and sprinkle with the seasonings.  I used salt and pepper on the vegetables.

Roast the sheet pan dinner at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.  Enjoy it!  The savory, fresh flavors are exceptional.  Make sure you include a lemon slice on every plate and squeeze the lemon juice over the chicken.  Garnish each serving with a sprig of the fennel leaf.  Delicious!  I'll share this post with some of the parties listed on my sidebar.  Make sure you click through to see those, too!

There are lots of other ways to prepare fennel. I love it thinly sliced in fresh salads.  Try it with slices of apples and a light vinaigrette.  Try it with bite size pieces of watermelon, lightly drizzled with lemon juice.  It is also great added to a salad of mixed salad greens with poppy seed dressing. Do a little internet search and you'll find lots of new ways to use this vintage vegetable!

Vintage Vegetables - 2020 Project

I have several special projects planned for this first year of the new decade!  One of my favorites, however, is this one!  I'll be posting recipes using old time vegetables ... and sometimes using old time recipes with today's favorite vegetables! 

It thrills me to know that young families are cooking again!  I'm fearful that we missed a couple generations of this, as restaurants and fast food chains took the place of a meal around the kitchen table.  Things have changed back to the old ways.  Buying local is popular and frequenting farmers' markets is a part of many families' weekly routines.  Vegetables are in, again!  Fantastic!

I want to be sure that my blog's followers enjoy learning old ways to prepare vegetables.  I want to make sure that those followers can identify heirloom vegetables ... and that they know what to do with them.  Let's not miss any opportunity to eat healthy and shop local!

This project begins today, January 1, 2020.

Follow my blog for weekly posts, and if you miss some all you have to do is visit the "Vintage Vegetable" page to see what you've missed!

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