Beetroot – A Most Awesome Vegetable

Standard

All my life up until about six weeks ago, beetroot was that vinegar-smelling stuff in a can that only weirdos, including my younger child, actually liked.

Callum loves beetroot. Back in our McDonalds-eating days, he would order a McOz with extra beetroot. He gets a tin of beetroot in his Christmas stocking. He freaking loves beetroot.

So I decided to grow him some. I got a punnet of seedlings and planted them in groups of four or five, expecting most of them to die of transplant stress. They all lived. I separated them out again. They still all lived. I thought ‘what the hell am I going to do with all this beetroot?’.

The last of the crop.

The last of the crop.

My grand plan of preserving it in slices, reminiscent of the canned stuff, suffered an irredeemable setback when I Googled ‘beetroot recipes’ and discovered the huge world of amazing things you can make from beetroot.

It started with roasted beetroot hummus dip. Progressed through beetroot soup to beetroot relish and red velvet beetroot muffins. There are three left from that original planting, and none have been sliced up and preserved in jars. I just put in another 36 seedlings. Next trick is to grow them from seed.

Beetroot, un-pickled and un-canned, is sweet and slightly nutty in flavour. While it is fun to cook with, it does leave a trail of reddish-purple juice all over the kitchen.

Roasted in olive oil, it makes a great addition to your ordinary roast vegetables, or you can then whiz it up with chickpeas and garlic to make a tasty pink hummus. There are loads of different beetroot soup recipes, or you can freestyle it with some other root vegetables and experiment with spices.

This beetroot relish is sweet and goes well with cold meat or in toasted sandwiches with melted cheese.

 

Beetroot Relish

650g beetroot

1 brown onion, finely chopped (or grated)

1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored and grated

1 cup lightly packed brown sugar

1 cup vinegar

1/4 tsp ground cloves

Method

Boil beetroot for 20 minutes or until just tender. Rinse under cold water. Wearing rubber gloves, peel and grate the beetroot.

Combine onion, apple, sugar, vinegar and cloves in a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil and stir until sugar is dissolved. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Add beetroot. Simmer for 45 minutes or until mixture is syrupy. Carefully spoon into hot, sterilised jars and seal.

 

I am always looking for healthy, alternatively-sweetened muffin recipes, and if they include vegetables that is even better. This cupcake recipe is incredibly easy, and goes great with a cream cheese topping.

Beetroot Red Velvet Cupcakes

2 large beetroot, washed and grated, raw

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tsp cinnamon

1 1/4 cups self raising flour

4 tbsp cocoa powder

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup maple syrup

Method

Preheat oven to 170C and line a cupcake tray with 12 paper cases.

Blend all ingredients together, in blender or with stick mixer, until batter is smooth. Spoon into cupcake cases.

Bake for 40 minutes or until skewer inserted comes out clean.

Beetroot cupcakes.

Beetroot cupcakes.

 

Beetroot is the another new favourite that I might never have learned about if I had not grown it. The beauty of it is that it also grows in the cooler months, so I might get some into jars for sandwich topping after all. Or maybe Callum can try some of the relish on his lunch.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Zucchini Season (or, How On Earth Are We Going To Eat All Of These?)

Standard

You know what smart people do when their one zucchini plant is supplying their entire family with zucchini? That’s right, they plant five more…

One zucchini plant - plenty for most families.

One zucchini plant – plenty for most families.

It is the season of zucchini abundance. The great dark green beast that threatens to overflow our vegetable bins and infiltrate every meal we eat for the next month. Visitors are not allowed to leave without taking at least two home with them. And that is without even considering the giant one that you missed picking that is now the size of a medium goat.

Five zucchini plants - we will NEVER eat all of these!

Five zucchini plants – we will NEVER eat all of these!

So what are you supposed to actually do with them?

The first flush of zucchini sees us excitedly anticipating the return of our favourite condiment – piccalilli. Piccalilli is sweet mustard pickles. Some people make it with cauliflower, but I make it with zucchini. It uses 1kg of zucchini for a single batch, contains a good whack of tumeric, which is incredibly good for you, and goes great on toast or crackers with goat cheese.

I use this recipe from Highland Heritage Farm. Yes, that is my review at the end of the recipe.

Piccalilli is awesome.

Piccalilli is awesome.

Zucchini slice is healthy, handy for work lunches and can be customised to your particular tastes. It has the added bonus of using up some of those eggs that you are probably drowning in at the moment if you have poultry.

The basis is a whole lot of grated zucchini, 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1/2 to 1 cup of self raising flour, about half a dozen beaten eggs and whatever other vegies you want to add. Most recipes call for onion, but you may find that the flavour takes over. You could get around this by frying the onion off before adding it to the mix. I like to add a couple of grated carrots and a decent-sized sweet potato, but you could use squash, potatoes, turnips, whatever is overflowing your vegie drawer and is suitable for grating. If you are that way inclined you can also put some grated cheddar or tasty cheese in. Mix it all up, add salt and pepper to taste, and pour it into a lasagne dish. Bake at 180 degrees until the egg is cooked and the whole thing is firm, around 45 minutes.

The problem with all that grating is that if you are anything like me, there will be blood. So I bought this nifty device, which we simply call Tefal. It may slightly resemble a baggy scrotum, but it slices, grates and crushes like a champ. It has a front-row seat in my gadget cupboard. And it saves me a fortune in Band-Aids.

Normal people have graters, I have Tefal <3

Normal people have graters, I have Tefal ❤

Zucchini also makes an excellent stealth vegetable. You know, the vegies your kids eat when they don’t know they are eating vegies. I believe in full disclosure when it comes to food, but you can add grated zucchini to things like spaghetti sauce, soup, meatloaf and cake. It brings moisture and density to recipes.

I discovered these awesome chocolate zucchini muffins. Sweetened with honey, they are moist and fluffy and super chocolatey. The zucchini disappears into the cake during baking, so you won’t even know you are eating vegetables, and your kids won’t believe you even if you do tell them.

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

1 cup flour – use wholemeal or gluten free if you prefer

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 tsp salt

1tsp bicarb

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup coconut oil (can substitute with olive oil)

1/2 cup honey

2 eggs

1tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups grated zucchini

Method

Sift and mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl.

In another bowl mix the honey, oil, vanilla and eggs until combined. Mix in the zucchini.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until everything is wet. Do not overmix. Spoon into muffin cases or greased muffin pans. Bake at 180c for about 18 minutes or until cooked through. Makes 10-12.

Zucchini is a super versatile, prolific seasonal vegetable. Add strips to stir fry, chunks to curry, use it in place of pasta sheets in lasagne, slice it onto your pizza or hide it in your sweets. Once you have got through it all, you don’t have to eat it for about eight months. But by the time summer comes around again you will be impatiently waiting for that first shiny green treasure to be ready to eat.

Use ALL the ZUCCHINIS!!

USE ALL THE ZUCCHINIS!!

 

 

The Barefoot Cook’s International Women’s Day Address

Standard

international womens day

Good evening, my fellow humans. My name is Jodie and I am a radical feminist.

Radical feminists believe that we live in a patriarchal society that divides the entire human race into two groups and then makes one of those groups dominant over the other. It divides us not for any logical reason, but with the prime objective of treating us differently.

The practical application of radical feminism is to challenge anything that puts women in a subservient role and reinforces our position of weakness. Anything that makes us less valuable, less powerful, less human.

The purpose of feminism, as a whole, is to promote women to the rank of fully human. It should follow then that anyone who does not identify as a feminist, does not believe that women are fully human. And that anyone who does agree that women are fully human is thereby a feminist.

People shun the word feminist for many reasons. They think that feminism is no longer necessary. They claim to be opposed to labels. They say that the word feminism is loaded with ‘negative connotations’.

These are often the same people who label me a man-hater, a sexist, a ‘male genocide advocate’, and who then call me a liar when I tell them I am none of those things. If feminism has negative connotations, it is because those who are against it, those who quite enjoy the current social acceptability treating women as less than human, are working very hard to discredit it.

There are many women out there who cannot stand up for themselves because the threat to their own or their children’s lives is very real. Because they have been trained for their whole lives to believe that they are of little value and that men are in charge, there are consequences if you disagree, and that is just how the world works.

If you are woman who is in a safe place, who can stand up for yourself and for those around you, I implore you to make that stand. Whenever you see women being disrespected, belittled, devalued or sexualised, in person or in the media, say something.

If you are a man who believes that women are fully human, speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. Call out the attitudes that allow for the objectification and dehumanisation of women.

Teach your children that women are people. Teach them about consent. Teach boys and girls that they always have the right to say ‘no’. That nobody is allowed to touch them without their permission, and that they never have to allow anyone to touch them if they don’t want to. Not even grandma. Teach them to speak up if they feel uncomfortable, and always believe them if they tell you someone has done something inappropriate to them.

Open up the lines of conversation. Warn boys about the dangers of online porn. Pull them up if you hear them calling a girl a ‘slut’ or using the word ‘girl’ in a derogatory manner. Make sure they understand that women are people, not decoration or devices for their sexual gratification.

Challenge the gender binary. Without this rigid division of the human race, sexism and gender inequality would dissolve. Look at all the ways that gender is reinforced. Notice sexualisation in the media.

Examine your choices. Do you really wear high heels because you like them? Wear make-up because you want to? If nobody else would ever see them, would you still wax your legs? Do you tone down your clothing selections so as not to attract unwanted attention? Do you decide not to buy something because it ‘makes you look fat’? Do you buy skin products in the hope that they will prevent you from ‘looking old’? Often we have to adhere to societal expectations to stay out of trouble. I am not saying turn up to work in a tracksuit instead of a skirt and heels. Just understand why you wear that skirt and heels.

Women are not decoration. Your level of attractiveness to others has no bearing on your worth as a person. The colour of your skin, eyes, hair, the number of your clothing size, your height, your freckles, your wrinkles, your scars, none of these make you any more or less deserving of happiness. Or love. Or respect.

Always believe those who claim to be victims of abuse. The number of false accusations is miniscule compared to the number of victims who are disbelieved or who never speak up at all. Chances are, if somebody tells you they have been assaulted or abused, they have. And the price of not believing them is far greater than the slight chance that what they are saying is untrue.

Do not accuse women of ‘playing victim’, or having a ‘victim mentality’. If women are victims, it is because somebody has harmed us. Changing our attitude will not magically erase that. A woman cannot choose not to be a victim any more than she can un-rape herself. Women do not choose to be victims – do not take the blame away from the perpetrators.

Understand that violence is a gendered issue. Nine out of ten physically violent crimes are committed by men. This has been backed up over and over by official crime statistics. In terms of domestic violence, men are also grossly overrepresented as perpetrators. Don’t feel the need to weigh in with ‘but some women are violent too!’. We all know that. But one in ten does not make women ‘just as bad’. It makes violence a gendered issue.

We can make a better world for everybody. Don’t give up. Be proud of your feminist attitudes and defend your right to safety and respect. Challenge traditional gender expectations and ridiculous ‘beauty standards’ created for the purposes of control and corporate gain. Examine the unfairness that has been background noise for years.

We hold up half the sky. It is time for women to raise our hands, raise our voices and take what we should never have been denied in the first place – our autonomy.

gandhi