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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cooking Lessons - Beets

Late last week I was making lunch using the new mandolin I'd gotten for Christmas.  I was slicing beets and being kind of an idiot about it by NOT using the safety thing that came with it to prevent one from slicing their finger off.  Guess what happened next?  Yes, I sliced my finger nearly all the way off.  After a few frantic phone calls (thanks Sheri for telling me where to go to have my finger put back together), a long drive to the urgent care center (maybe it only seemed long), 3 stitches and explaining to the staff that I did NOT cut my finger while PLAYING a mandolin but while cutting a beet on my mandolin (seriously, these people graduated from med school?  I should have asked to see diploma's) my finger is healing well.  However, this spurred a conversation between my friend Jen and I today.

She said that we need to have cooking school because she didn't know anyone who cooked beets.  Except me.  This got me thinking... I could post some information about vegetables that you may not understand how to cook.  If you have questions about one - post it in the comments and I'll try to follow-up with those suggestions.  So... here's my informal cooking lesson on beets.

They are tremendously healthy, free in Points+ values, but they will stain almost anything they come in contact with so be careful with them.  There are really only two ways that I generally prepare them - if you do something different and want to share please post that in the comments section too.

The first way I have prepared them is to make the beets into chips.  I start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees.  I wash the beets, though I don't peel them and then I use my mandolin (WITH SAFETY GUARD) to slice them pretty thin.  I spray a cookie sheet with olive oil.  Spread the beet slices evenly across the cookie sheet and bake for 20-35 minutes (depending on thickness) until they are chiplike.  Keep an eye on them though as they will burn and they are less appetizing when they become charcoal.  When I bring them out of the oven I will sprinkle some salt over top of them and let them cool.  Then, munch away.

The other way I have prepared them is to boil them.  I start by filling a pot about 1/4 of the way with water.  Then I wash the outside of the beets and slice off the top and the bottom.  If the beets are large you can cut them into smaller pieces.  Boil them until they are soft (which depends on how big the pieces are so I can't give you a time here) in the middle.  Once they are I put the pot in the sink and run cold water over them to cool them.  When they are cool enough to handle I just rub the peels right off (that's a nifty time saver that Mom taught me after I spent a long time peeling them one day).  I'll usually add a little spray butter and some salt and then enjoy them like that.

Does anyone else have any recipes using beets that you want to share?  How about other vegetables that you think about making but aren't sure you want to tackle?

PS - I also updated the About Me page with a new photo!

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