Strawberries and Beets

I’ve faced two of my culinary fears recently – beets and jam. I’ve always been hesitant to use beets because of their ability to stain and also I used to think they tasted like dirt. And with the jam, I was afraid of hurting myself or others during the heating of jars and also jam making seemed to be a long difficult process with many steps. I was wrong about everything above, except for staining beets. They do stain.
Last week, I took the boys along with a neighbor and her son to strawberry patch. I love the idea of picking your food right from the source. Growing up in rural Illinois, most people had gardens. During the summer, we would can green beans, tomatoes, pickled beets, salsa, jam, and pickles and freeze corn and tomatoes. I have many memories helping in the process and can remember hearing my mom say, “Girls, if you have time to argue, you have time to pick beans.” We would each receive a gallon-sized bucket and were expected to fill those buckets and then snap the beans. Even though it was torture to pick those beans, I look back at this time fondly. All this to say, I guess I’m trying to give my boys my childhood and an appreciation for food. Okay, back to the strawberries. When we got to the patch, Silas luckily had started his morning nap and slept until we got back into the car to go home.
Brooks was a bit hesitant but after a few minutes he figured it out. 

And a few might have ended up in his mouth.

I mentioned a few posts back about a new vehicle. We bought a Mazada 5 because of the three rows of seats and the sliding doors, but its not quite a mini van. Its like a mini mini-van. We were able to fit two adults, 3 kids, a stroller, and a large basket of strawberries. As I got into the car, after our fun morning, I was feeling pretty good. Silas got his morning nap, I was able to spend some quality time with Brooks, and I got enough strawberries to make plenty of jam. And then I ran over a cement block that punctured the radiator. After a $1000 repair, its back to working great. Oooops. Those were some expensive strawberries.

Brooks helping with the jam making.
I over did it with the strawberries. I picked so many that I made three batches of jam (strawberry, strawberry mint, and strawberry peach mint), a strawberry cake, and gave four bowls away to neighbors. The jam was a cinch. I made all three batches and cleaned up my whole kitchen in about 2 1/2 hours. I used the freezer jam recipe on the back of the gelatin box. I had asked my neighbor who had given us an amazing jar of jam a couple of years ago what her recipe was and she responded with, “its on the box.” 
If I haven’t mentioned it already, this is the best strawberry cake I have ever had in my life. So delicious!
Onto the beets . . .
Beets are fabulous. I wish I would’ve eaten them earlier. They were always on the table growing up but I thought they looked gross so I never ate them. Now I can’t get enough (and apparently Silas feels the same).   And I love their bright color. They are so simple to make. 
Roasted Beets:
1 bunch of beets (about three small)
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Heat the oven to 400. Rinse the beets and place in foil. Drizzle with the oil and salt and pepper. Wrap and bake for an hour. After removing them from the oven, let them cool and peel off skin. Squeeze with lemon. You could also drizzle with some honey and eat as is or slice and add to a salad with feta or goat cheese. 

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