Beet time!  (2011) by Mary

In my late sixty years, I seem to have a new contentment. My need to experience things does not necessarily require a road trip, or a tour to Europe, but can be something as simple as growing beets. Who would have guessed that beet seeds are different than any other type of seed? When I opened the packet, I found little pitted hard balls; actually a dried fruit, that contains up to eight tiny seeds. So, when I planted one, I got many. I tried something I read, and started them in cardboard egg cartons filled with dirt, and ended up transplanting the extra into more cartons.  

Not caring much for beets, I wanted to grow them for Larry. Our whole married life, he tried and tried, but never found pickled beets "like his mother made." Since he had put so much work in preparing little gardens in our city backyard, my plan was to grow beets, ask his oldest sister for his mom's recipe, and make the best beet pickles possible. Unfortunately, the recipe was lost and I couldn't find one that sounded like he described. 

I did my best with the beets, trying a few recipes I found on line, and much to my surprise, we both found them manageable. I even made a sample of beet pickles which could be labeled, not bad, but of course, not quite like his mother made. I think the most interesting thing I learned was that the leaves are even more nutritious than the beet, so I started picking one or two small leaves from each plant to mix in with the other salad greens.  

This is our third year with our city garden, and since it is beet time again, I am excited to share with you our surprise - the absolutely most delicious mouth watering best tasting moist chocolate cake I've ever tasted, with the hidden nutrition of beets! 

Chocolate Beet Cake:

(Now, if you bake this cake, don't tell anyone that it has beets in it until it is gone.)

*  two cups all-purpose flour
*  one and a half teaspoons soda
*  one half teaspoon salt
*  one and a half cups sugar
*  one half cup cocoa powder
*  three large eggs, beaten
*  one cup plus two tablespoons vegetable oil, Canola or corn oil
*  one and a half cups cooked and then grated beets
*  two teaspoons vanilla
*  powdered sugar, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flour, soda, salt, sugar and cocoa in a bowl; set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs and oil. Beat in vanilla and continue beating until well blended. Slowly beat in dry ingredients until well mixed; stir in beets. Pour into a greased and floured 9x13-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 35 minutes, or until cake bounces back when touched lightly with finger.

Cool in pan on a rack. Frost cooled cake or dust with powdered sugar just before serving. (I did the powdered sugar as it is already rich.)

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