Talk Dirt to Me

Wasted Effort

I snuck some beets into pizza sauce. Hidden under toppings and cheese they slipped under the beetdar. A week later I served the same sauce as topping for pasta and the eldest indigene caught on: “this is blood red and sweet.” He set down his fork; this would not be eaten with his mouth. I blatantly lied, “it’s just normal tomato sauce, eat up.” I almost said, “come-on, that’s more of a beet red.”

The gig would’ve been up (the other one would have stopped eating). Child number one didn’t touch dinner that night. The boss thinks he might be a “super-taster.” I think he’s probably a normal taster who just never actually gets hungry enough to try new things. There will always be breakfast, and there will always be grandma. I don’t think hungry people turn down food, though I must admit I would probably turn down mackerel; what I’ve smelled doesn’t smell like food.

Nevertheless, I’ve been sneaking beets into all sorts of things, when they’re finely chopped and the ratio of beet to other isn’t too high, they just add flavor and a sweet touch. But the color can send up red flags, so to speak. I actually withheld beets that I wished to add to a potato/cabbage/leek soup. The children weren’t going to eat it no matter what I did, but it has a subtle flavor and the beets might have over powered it. The indigent boarders missed out, it was delicious.

I’d already selected and slaughtered the beet I had intended to use. It was chopped and bleeding on the cutting board like one of Dexter’s victims. I’ll have to work its bits into something later. This particular beet was a part of a late season harvest of cabbage and leeks. I’m always stunned by how long these plants hold on in the garden.

I’d harvested the majority of the beets several weeks ago and have been keeping them in the basement along with the winter squash, potatoes and sweet potatoes. When fetching one the other day I was surprised to see leaves. These weren’t leaves I’d neglected to cut off, but new pale yellow leaves on sickly white stems. Beets rising form the dead: zombie beets.

So why aren’t those leaves green? Plants don’t make chlorophyll, the main pigment that harvests light, until they are actually exposed to light. So plants remain sickly yellow until they get a good strong dose of light. Upon exposure they “de-etiolate” that is, they start making more healthy green leaves. Sadly, without soil around to hold those sick stems, these beets probably wouldn’t make it in the basement. I don’t trust zombies, so they’re compost: I’m convinced that cold should kill zombies.

© 2014 The Valley Advocate