When i was growing up, I could honestly tell you that there was nothing in the world that I hated more than beets. I think that I could put them in the same category as snakes and horses (I wish I could tell you that there’s a long story there, but no. My fear of horses are pretty much without reason or logic). I hated them. I hated the color, I hated the texture,and more than I hated sitting in church on a Sunday when I would rather be watching TV, I hated the taste. It was absolutely repulsive. The fact of the matter was, every kid I knew hated them as much as I did. They were nothing more than canned crap that would ruin everything else on the plate with their blood red poo-tasting juice. I think that about sums up my hatred for the beet. So, I hated beets more than anything. I think that’s been made abundantly clear.
So, I made it a point to avoid beets like the plague. I would try them from time to time to see if I still felt the same way about them, but after years of eating the crap from a can, I knew that I could never like them. It was a done deal.
Along comes Michelle. She’s the lady who I might as well be married to who is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay to good for me and still, despite my faults, manages to love me. When I wasn’t looking, Michelle managed to get a bunch of beets into the kitchen. To be honest, I’d never seen beets that didn’t come from a can. As far as I was concerned, beets and peaches came from the same factory downtown, but there they were. Sitting on the table was a bunch of big, red beets. In all the years we’d been together, I can’t think of a time when I’d been more resistant to eating anything. I think it would be safe to say that I would rather cuddle with a snake at that point, but Michelle has a way with words.
We fired up the grill. Charcoal, kids. I don’t mess with that propane. It doesn’t have the taste. Anyway, we fired up the grill. I had some beautiful grass-fed beef hamburgers and Michelle had her portabello burger which I thought we would be putting on, but before we put on any burgers, Michelle had chopped up some beets and laid them on the grill right over the fire. She was ruining dinner on purpose! She had them on the grill for a good 10 minutes before she allowed me to put on the burgers.
So, because I know I know I didn’t want Michelle to think that I was afraid if this red death from the ground, I ate one of the slices of beet. I knew I would hate it. I know that there was a face of sheer terror before I even had the thing to my mouth. I knew it was going to kill me, at the very least, but I ate it.
This is a beet? Where is the bitter slimy bloody red disk? Where was the torture in which I had countless nightmares as a child? When I wasn’t looking, I swear she slipped me a charred bit of mildly sweet and savory heaven.
From that point, I made it a point to try beets any way that I could. I soon discovered that though there might be nothing worse than a caned beet from the store, there is nothing as satisfying as a thoroughly roasted beet lightly drizzled in herbs and olive oil. Over the years, beets have become a major part of our diet. From raw, shredded, and tossed in balsamic vinegar, to roasted with potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and chick peas, there are few things I would rather have growing in my garden.
Beets are as easy to grow as anything out there. It’s seriously as simple as throwing a seed into the ground and letting it grow. They’re okay with weeds, mild drought, cold, heat, or anything else you could throw at them. If given enough room to root, I believe a beet could grow in a carpet. Sure, laugh, but I’ll be the one laughing when harvesting beets from your livingroom carpet.
Every part of the beet is good for eating. What we like to do is eat the bulb and the greens, but then there is the tail and the stalk. Those tend to go into a pot with carrot greens, swiss chard stalks, and all the other veggie scraps we get from the garden or from meal prep. There’s no better way to make a veggie stock. The spent scraps, after a good boiling, are then thrown into the compost where the beet proves its place as the most versatile and sustainable little guy in the garden.