Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Home - made Beet Powder

We spent the weekend in Colorado with our daughter and went shopping, shopping, and shopping some more. Not for clothes, though I did buy a 180 dollar wool coat for 57 dollars. It had been marked down and down and down for good reason. I swear the rack of coats weren't selling because of the big, honking, shiny buttons in a double row down the front which could easily have signaled an air craft carrier to land.

With three more on each sleeve and two more on the back, as I tried it on looking at myself in the mirror, I was nearly blinded by the over head fluorescent light that reflected off the buttons making me feel like a neon sign on the Los Vegas strip. "Look at me, look at me!", they seemed to scream. Okay, maybe it wasn't quite that bad but close.

Needless to say upon purchasing the coat, we went directly to a fabric store where we fastened black button after black button in the button holes down the front of the coat until we found some that were just right. They are plastic but look like black woven leather. A win win situation since wool and leather are two of my favorite things. 

Besides washability, it turned out to be a really good thing that those buttons were not made of leather for many of them are presently sporting chocolate. Yes, dark chocolate but what do you expect when you are shopping on a warm day and you need to go to two stores in two different towns to gather a small matching herd. You think I'm exaggerating but I'm not. I needed fifteen buttons. 

I didn't browse looking at isle, after isle, after isle, of lovely fabric, though it pained me terribly, I knew we'd spent enough time in the button section to wear my husbands patience mighty thin. So when I spied some of his favorite dark chocolate in the checkout isle, I grabbed a handful of the individually wrapped, mouth sized balls. Alas, he didn't eat them fast enough and some of them melted on the buttons in the same bag as we left the car in the sun to browse through a bulk food store looking for food for hunting camp.

We planned a foody trip. Not that we are short on food as I'm sti....ll canning and my kitchen floor has now been officially declared a  disaster area but in Wyoming, the selection is rather boring. So one of our stops was a kitchen store where I bought egg rings for making a nice egg shape that would fit nicely in breakfast sandwiches, and then off to the oil store that imports flavored olive oil and flavored balsamic vinegars from around the world. It is always an adventure to stop there.

And we scouted out two spice stores wetting our appetites and reeling my thoughts down new cooking avenues. One whole new trail is powdered vegetables. I picked up some powdered pumpkin and powdered beets.

Upon purchase, I didn't really know what all I was going to do with them. The long ride home and a brief trip through a few Internet sites ( and I do mean few there were only a few I found) broadened my thinking.  

The pumpkin powder I figured could intensify pumpkin soup, cookies, and might be good in hot cocoa. As for the beet powder, which is quite sweet tasting, I was thinking along the line of using it in noodles.

Though one of the clerks at Celestial Seasonings, where we stocked up the for the year on herbal teas, said she uses it along with Henna and coffee to die her hair red. I'm not hankering to be a red head  so I didn't ask exactly how she did that. Now that it's too late, I wish I'd of asked just to satisfy my curiosity. 

Thinking of dies, I looked up Red Velvet cake as beet powder is used in foods as a natural food dye. My husband loves Red Velevet Cake but has given up on me making one because I refuse to use more than a few drops at a time of food coloring. Several sites mentioned using beet powder as a substitute for the artificial kind. They all mentioned that the standard recipe has to be altered with the change because the leavenings react to the beets and turns the cake brown colored instead of red. BUT, with an addition of natural cocoa and buttermilk (which are both acidic) the ph change makes the use of beet powder plausible and a lovely burgundy color is said to be the result. 

Wanting to make my own beet powder, I of course made a bee line for the garden when we got home to pluck a few small beets that remained. They were an inch to an inch and a half in size. I cleaned off the garden soil and cut off the tops. Then chopped up the larger ones and popped them into the blender, pushed the  Chop button  and spread out the results onto the fruit leather trays of my dehydrator. No, I did not skin the beets. With small beets it isn't necessary as the skins remain tender.  The beets are in the drier right now and when dry, I'm going to grind them into powder. 

I think I'll do some tomatoes for powder to put into noodles, and I want to try some zucchini also. They would all be good in a vegetable stew to intensify the flavors and I'm also thinking noodles. A few years back, I tried some recipes of Martha Stewart's for noodles with green beans and beets. I wasn't impressed. Her beet noodles were an intense red. Mine a sorry pale pink. She didn't mention beet powder but now I'm sure that is what she used and failed to add in the instructions.  My brain is a whirling and I'm thinking what herbs to add to what dried vegetables. Look for fruition of those thoughts in the next few months.

Later when I process pumpkins, I'll dry some of those too. Have any of you journeyed down this road and have advice?   

I'd better quit thinking and get to doing as the grand kids will soon be out of school and I had better mop the kitchen floor before their feet stick fast and they are trapped. Then I have a bucket of apples to slice and peel. I'm thinking of freezing them for apple pies. Plus I've another batch of apple juice to make into jelly. Will this canning ever end?

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