The recipe I am going to share with you today is one I would never have willingly indulged in as a child. I mean, it has all kinds of icky things in it like squash, onion, cashew cream. But this butternut squash Alfredo sauce is also one that my mom may have been able to pull one over on me with. One thing I loved as a kid was pasta, but I was limited on what I would allow to top my pasta. My preference was butter and cheese but then I discovered Alfredo sauce and my life changed. This butternut version is everything I love about the original with the added sweetness and nuttiness of butternut squash. It’s creamy, dreamy deliciousness and the best part, it’s not so bad for the waistline. Instead of loads of butter and cream, this sauce is a combination of butternut squash, cashew cream, spices and a touch of goat cheese for added creaminess.
Eggplant. It’s on the list of vegetables I wouldn’t touch as a child. It was right up these with peas. But now, I love it. In fact, my favourite sandwich features this purple vegetable. Yes, my eggplant parmesan grilled cheese sandwich, which I am finally sharing with you, is my favourite sandwich. I could eat it every day. But I don’t. And my pants thank me for that.
My mom never even attempted to get me to eat eggplant when I was at the height of my pickiness as a child. She knew better. I scoffed at any vegetable that wasn’t celery, lettuce or potato (there were probably more that I tolerated but those were the ones my parents didn’t have to bribe me to eat). I went more than two decades without eggplant in my life. That’s two decades of missing out on this incredible eggplant parmesan grilled cheese. Sigh.
Some days, I feel like a complete fraud. I preach about the dangers of genetically modified foods both with my tongue and my fingers. But I don’t completely avoid them. And I knowingly don’t do so.
Sure, they scare me, but I don’t go to all costs to avoid them. I give in, too often. They are everywhere. Literally, everywhere. I am physically surrounded by them on my two-acre slice of paradise. At the brim of our property is a sprawling field of Round Up Ready soy. They are also everywhere in society: grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants and even the farm stands and farmers’ markets. The picky eater in me is far too content to stick to her old ways.
This article is strikingly familiar. It’s almost as if the writer is describing my childhood. My parents didn’t cater to me, I was simply a pain in the ass. I left them little choice but to give in to my bland taste in food which could easily be satisfied by buttered noodles sprinkled with fake parmesan. I would even order my favourite plain Jane pasta in restaurants. It must have killed my parents to pay so much for buttered noodles sprinkled with cheese my mom could have easily made me at home for pennies. I was the kid at the kitchen table staring down a pile of peas until bed time. My mom had her share of challenges in getting me to try new foods or in trying to sneaking it in when I least expected it … or so she thought.
Had I tried these as a kid, I would have been fooled.
I had to be tricked into eating most vegetables growing up. The list of vegetables I would eat without a fight was short — celery, lettuce, artichoke. The last one throws everyone off, not the typical favourite of a picky eater but what can I say, I wasn’t your typical kid. One way my mom always had success was to puree the veggies.
This brownie recipe features pureed beets and will trick even the finickiest of eaters. I should know, I am a recovering one.
You would never know by biting into one of these rich, moist, fudgy brownies that they contain beets. I was expecting an earthy flavour with traces of dirt. These brownies were full of flavour and it wasn’t dirt. It was chocolate. Rich, dense, fudgy chocolate. A beet-loving coworker slowly ate her brownie searching for traces of beet flavour but couldn’t find a trace. Neither could anyone else. The husband was hesitant to try them but was pleasantly surprised by their rich, chocolatey, beetless taste.
Even better, these brownies were made with beets fresh from my garden. I will definitely be making these veggie-full brownies again.
Buried Beet Brownies
(You’ll never know it’s there)
Adapted from The Way to My Family’s Heart
• 2 large beets
• 3 large eggs
• 2/3 Cup brown sugar
• 2/3 Cup vanilla sugar
• 1/2 Cup coconut oil
• 1 1/4 Cup cocoa powder
• 3/4 Cup all purpose flour
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt
• 1 Cup chocolate chips
Peel beets and boil until tender, about 35 minutes. Drain and puree (You will likely have to add some water to the food processor during the pureeing process or you will end up with tiny bits of beets. The water will help bind it). Put aside.
Preheat oven to 350.
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil and sugar. Add the beets and whisk to combine.
In a separate bowl combine the remaining dry ingredients. Slowly add to wet mixture, stirring to incorporate as you add more. At this point, I had to abandon the whisk and grab a spoon, the batter got thick and it was too much for my whisk. Finally, toss in the chocolate chips.
Pour batter into a greased 9×13 glass baking dish and bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool and be amazed at the beetless taste of these buried beet brownies.
We had a productive Sunday on our backyard farm. This weekend I planted more spinach, green onion, arugula, swiss chard, romaine lettuce and carrots. I also planted the first of my beet plants.
Another project we completed was our potato box. My husband did most of the work on this one.
I found the inspiration for our potato box on Pinterest (follow me http://www.pinterest.com/amandamoore5). The idea is to build a small tower that you grow with the potatoes. We built our potato box with wood we had laying around the dry shed, so we didn’t follow the directions to a T (they specify 2×2 posts, the ones we used were a bit larger). Dave cut the boards into 21- and 24-inch lengths with the posts 33 inches in height. He then attached the four boards to the bottom of the box (for a visual see http://www.veggiegardener.com/how-to-build-potato-tower, I would post photos of our potato box, but I left my card reader at work, check back tomorrow for photos). We filled the box in with dirt (we used triple mix and sheep manure) and planted the mixed seed potatoes we ordered from West Coast Seeds (these are a mix of Sieglinde, Chieftan, Yukon Gold, and Russian Blue, I can’t for these to grow) along with the majority of our seeds for this year. I planted them whole, though I have also read you can cut them into smaller pieces with at least two eyes per piece. As the taters grow, we will add more boards and dirt until it reaches the top of the box. To harvest the potatoes, you remove the boards. Some bloggers have reported yields of 100 pounds in a 2×2 box. Only time will tell how successful we are at potato growing. Fingers crossed we will have plenty of spuds to last us next fall and winter.
What is your favourite potato dish?
Why you should grow your own potatoes (or buy from a local, organic farmer)
Potatoes found in the grocery store are sprayed with a concoction of chemicals — pesticides, anti-sprotuing agents, fungicides, herbicides. Potatoes, like most root vegetables, absorb these chemicals that wind up in the soil. Potatoes are twelfth on the Dirty Dozen list, a list of the 12 foods you should buy organic according to the Environmental Working Group. Be sure to buy these organic (or grow your own) apples, celery, sweet bell peppers, peaches, strawberries, nectarines, grapes, spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, blueberries, potatoes. Alternately, the “Clean 15” are onions, sweet corn (though a lot of corn is GMO, so be sure to watch for this), pineapples, avocado, cabbage, sweet peas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, kiwi, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, grapefruit, watermelon, mushrooms.
We are growing our own food because we are concerned about the food we are eating. Conventional products do not require labels warning consumers that they have been exposed to heavy doses of toxic chemicals, but organic farmers who want to label their products as such have to pay large amounts of money for certification. There is something backwards when a product has to be labelled for not having something in it, when products that could potentially harm our health require no such label. We will be able to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables from our little homestead with the peace of mind that they are not genetically modified and have not been exposed to pesticides. It doesn’t get any fresher than the backyard.