“You’re going to give those away, right?” L asked as I stood admiring the row of jars, jewels really, still hot from the canner. I had been expecting some resistance to the notion of a crowd of pickled beets lined up in the cold cellar just waiting to sneak themselves onto the menu and into the mouths of my unsuspecting family. But, I hadn’t been prepared for outright rejection.
We generally have an unspoken understanding in our house about what I am allowed to serve to others and what I must eat alone. I am the sole consumer of liver, for example. Over the years I have managed to sneak the odd mushroom on to L’s plate and lamb has made limited dining-room appearances. But, it’s still a tough venue for collard greens.
My 16-year-old has an apparent vegetable allergy, while his sister will only eat the odd sliver of meat (but she loves Lima beans of all things and will eat them by the pound, so I am not worried about her).
Usually, I am allowed to stock a few things that no one else will touch. Pickled herring is one of these. The only total ban I have been put under is on blood pudding, which L is truly revolted by. Frankly, I just don’t like it enough to risk divorce.
Beets, however, are worth fighting for. I should clarify; not all beets, these beets. These beets were the first seeds I planted in my first-ever vegetable garden. I built the raised beds, I hauled in the soil, I smoothed the surface, made the furrows and planted far-too-many rows of beet seeds. I did all that and then I pulled them from the cold November soil and I pickled them. (If I could fit more “I”s in this paragraph, I would.) These are my beets!
I wanted to hold up my red-stained fingers and show L that I had beet blood on my hands and that she needed to appreciate everything I had done to make these delicious and nutritious root vegetables a lasting part of our diet. But, I forgot that I had worn rubber gloves when I peeled them (Princess brand, bright yellow, extra large).
So, instead, I stood there while no words came to me. And… I must admit… I stared long and hard at the row of jars lined up on the counter and asked myself one simple question: What the hell am I going to do with all these beets?