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I have to admit that as a child, I barely ate any vegetables. Peas, potatoes and salad veg were about all I would have without a fight and I certainly wouldn’t entertain anything slightly more exotic, like a carrot for example…

Fast forward to many, MANY years later, and yes, I will pretty much eat most vegetables. My taste has matured and I have even been eating broccoli and brussel sprouts for the last eight years or so. I am still however, slightly wary of some vegetables and when I was approached to take on the Think you know Beetroot challenge, I had to be honest and let them know that as a child I absolutely totally DID NOT LIKE beetroot. Since then, I haven’t touched it either, even though my parents are huge advocates of this very dark purple fleshy vegetable!

I took delivery of this stunning box of three different types of beetroot. Cooked natural beetroot, vacuum packed with no added flavours, cooked beetroot in mild vinegar and last but certainly not least, the fiery Sweetfire beetroot, baby beetroot cooked and infused with a marinade of chilli, oil and white wine vinegar! There are plenty of ideas on the LOVE BEETROOT website which show an incredible versatility of this contender.

 

After much deliberation, I decided to give the Beetroot a slight Middle Eastern/Mediterranean kick and used some of my favourite ingredients to mix up with it. I am pleasantly surprised by just exactly what you can prepare with beetroot and even in ancient times, it was used as a medicine to treat conditions such as headaches and toothache – for those of you who know I suffer with toothache constantly, this is a bonus! For the ladies, it is also low in calories and rich in folate!

For my first experiment I added three chopped Sweetfire beetroot to 250g strained greek yogurt, mixed in one tablespoon of honey and topped it with pumpkin seeds and more chopped beetroot. Served with flat bread, this was a tantalising taste on the tongue of the chilli mixed with the honey and the natural sweetness of the beetroot. I thoroughly enjoyed the taste and found I wasn’t shying away from eating more and more of this fresh and tingly dip.

I then decided to use a bit more of the Sweetfire beetroot as it immediately became my favourite, with a homemade chunky hummus.

For this dip you need:

1 tin of cooked chick peas

2 tbsp tahina (sesame seed paste like mix found in most eastern/asian stores)

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

4 whole walnuts, crushed, or a handful of pistachios, shelled and crushed

salt to taste

Blend the above ingredients just enough to leave a few chick pea bits to make the hummus chunky. Add 3 chopped Sweetfire beetroot topped with crushed walnuts or pistachio and serve with crudites or chips.

Finally, to end the insanely hot week of summer at the end of september, I chose to make a salad, using the cooked beetroot in mild vinegar.

For the salad, you need:

A few handfuls of watercress (to line the bottom of the plate)

One small yellow pepper chopped into medium chunks

Half a tin of broad beans, skin on

5 beetroot cooked in mild vinegar

Olive oil

Toss the salad ingredients together, drizzle with olive oil and chill for an hour before serving.

If you want an extra zing for this salad, just add an extra capful of vinegar over it before chilling. I have certainly had fun trying out the Beetroot and have a couple more recipes to share with you in part two coming later in the week. Don’t forget you can go to the website at Love Beetroot and enjoy creating all the fabulous recipes they have there from burgers to cupcakes! You can also follow them on Twitter @LoveBeetroot and make sure you use the hashtag #Thinkyouknowbeetroot to say HI to the gang and spread the word!!

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By now, you will have realised that my best skill is cooking and I like blogging about it too.  I am sure, or at least I hope that at some point, I’ll get to the sewing, knitting and other stuff!  Here is another food one I wrote  in the summer last year but I am now going to use it in a series of *Make your own* posts that I am going to experiment with.  Enjoy.

The fresh ingredients...

My parents have been away for a couple of weeks and I was left with strict instructions to pick the tomatoes from my fathers garden and eat them.  Well, I love tomatoes as much as anyone else but I have to admit, there were quite alot of tomatoes to be contending with and there is only so much salad we can eat!! 

I wanted to do something to test my own skills and so I decided to make a Passata sauce. I have never actually eaten any passata before so was very worried about what I was doing but decided it was all for the name of experimenting!

I found a simple recipe online that called for ingredients that I had in the house already.  Tomatoes, fresh basil, (I have a pot that was given to me on my birthday), garlic and onions – check!

Firstly, I boiled then simmered the tomatoes along with a whole onion and a couple of sprigs of basil for about an hour.  Then I had to strain the mix through a sieve as I don’t have a mouli (a food mill) and this took quite a bit of time and really hurt my arms (cooking is good exercise!) but I was pleased with the end result.

Once you have the sauce ready, you then add a finely chopped onion and several finely chopped cloves of garlic with more basil and salt to taste.  I boiled it down until I thought it was thick enough to be a *sauce*.  The aroma of garlic and basil had engulfed the house making us all hungry.

For my first attempt at making this sauce, I think it went very well indeed.  I was more happy because I used two homegrown ingredients which, even though I didn’t grow at home myself, it still gave me a personal sense of satisfaction!  If you feeling even more adventurous, you can couple the sauce with a homemade pasta and garlic bread too!

 

 

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Yesterday was a busy day for me.  I had the in-laws coming around for tea and cake (like, TOTALLY shop bought) and I had a lot of washing and ironing to do (just call me the last minute homemaker!) On top of this my youngest is sick (we had a throw up festival) and I decided that I was going to completely overhaul and sort out my daughter’s room as well.

I had put out some lamb the night before and the last thing that I really wanted to do was to cook a huge meal and stand over it, stirring and making sure it didn’t stick to the bottom of the pan or burn or anything SO I brought out my trusty three litre slow cooker and here is what I finally decided upon!

 

I had previously bought half a leg of lamb from the butchers, chopped into medium sized casserole pieces INCLUDING the bone.  You can either leave that out and make a soup stock later or cook it in the casserole like I do for added flavour.  I split the half leg of lamb into two as there are two adults and two children, aged 5 and under who don’t eat huge portions. I recommend using fresh ginger and garlic but the *lazy* or ground varieties will work just as well if you can’t get to the shops.

Ingredients

Half a leg of lamb (to serve 4 adults), fat off, chopped into medium sized casserole chunks

1 onion, diced

300g green beans chopped about 1 inch long

2 tbsp cooking oil

1 tin chopped tomatoes

2 tsp finely chopped garlic

2 tsp finely chopped ginger

1/2 tsp turmeric

salt and pepper to taste

Add all the ingredients into the slow cooker and put it on high.  Serve with white fluffy rice and greek yogurt. You can use beef if you don’t like lamb and you can also try the same thing with diced chicken breast as well.

Enjoy!

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