Simply in Season

News and reflections on all that's good about local food
from the co-author of Simply in Season,
a World Community Cookbook in the spirit of More-with-Less

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Cake that can't be beet? and Northwest Passage

The Simply in Season recipe of the week, Secret Chocolate Cake, is among those on what I call the SIS “hidden treasures” list: recipes that sneak in extra nutrition and tend to fool people who claim they don’t like various vegetables.

While a can of cooked -- but not pickled! -- beets (drained) can be pureed in the blender in a flash for this recipe, the cake was chosen especially with members of CSAs in mind. In a CSA -- community supported agriculture -- subscribers pay a farmer of a share of the season’s produce. Each week they receive a box of whatever is ripe. CSAs are structured differently from farm to farm but most don’t give the subscribers a choice about what foods they receive -- leading to excellent opportunities to try new foods, and also the challenge of dealing with those that aren’t family favorites.

Yet this is part of the beauty of a CSA: repeated exposure to new foods, opening the door to developing some acquired tastes. Dietician Marilyn Tanner notes that it may take 10 to 15 tries for a child to accept a new food. (I like the article on the preceding link but find it a bit ironic that it's posted on a juice website -- considering concerns about children drinking too much juice in lieu of eating much healthier whole fruits.) Adults probably aren’t much different.

I figure, the first step is just to get comfortable having a new vegetable around the house.

Call me a dreamer, but wouldn’t this be the greatest scenario: Mom or Dad gets home from the farmers’ market and the kids see beets come out the bag and yell, “Yay! We’re having chocolate cake!”

Personally, I’m still not a big fan of your basic boiled or pickled beets. But aside from the cake, which is delicious, I learned in the course of creating SIS that I do like Shredded Beet Salad (page 245). I particularly like the flavor beet greens give to stirfries and soups like Winter Borscht (243). You don’t get those with a can.

No time for more this week -- I’m busy getting ready for a workshop at the Good Earth Home, Garden and Living Show, coming this weekend to the Lane County Fairgrounds in Eugene, Ore. The workshop is slated for Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at the Cascade Stage, with books available from the University of Oregon Bookstore area near the Good Earth Cafe and Music Stage.

The plan is to share samples of Red Lentil Coconut Curry (206) and Upside-Down Pear Gingerbread (215) and to prepare on-site Red Taters and Green Grannies (253): my all-time favorite recipe title in SIS and an utterly easy but deliciously different dish I urge everyone to try. (Lovely with pork or sausage but also great with a cheese omelet or as a substitute for home fries. I prefer it as the main course, myself (occasionally directly out of the skillet), as I find I tend to ignore my eggs when I'm eating it.) It was great to bike out to the Corvallis Indoor Winter Market Saturday -- in only a dryish sort of rain -- and pick up lots of local produce from the good people of Gathering Together and Denison Farms.

Folks in the KLCC listening area may be interested in tuning in to the “Northwest Passage” this Thursday afternoon, Jan. 26, when I'll be talking with host Tripp Sommer about Simply in Season and the joys of local food.


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