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Front Porch: Fall veggies (or whatever) hard to beet

Thu., Nov. 3, 2011

I’m in the midst of my annual identity crisis.

Every autumn when area gardens burst with bounty, I toy with the idea of turning in my carnivore card and embracing vegetarianism. Crunchy carrots, tasty tomatoes and succulent squash please my palate. After gorging on garden goodness, I have no room for meatloaf or chicken cacciatore.

My sons, though, tremble at the thought of a vegetarian mother. They tolerate meatless Mondays, but the thought of living without Sunday pot roast, Thanksgiving turkey and birthday beef stroganoff makes them woozy – and whiny.

It’s probably my fault. I frightened them a few times by telling them their enchiladas were stuffed with tofu.

But, what really scares them is my passion for beets. We recently returned from Green Bluff with the usual haul of sugar carrots, acorn squash, sweet onions, Honeycrisp apples and 12 pounds of freshly picked beets.

I love the rich, earthy taste of beets. However, when I posted a picture on Facebook of steaming beets topped with melting butter, I received a torrent of conflicting comments. Beets are a love ’em or hate ’em vegetable, with no room for middle ground. “Beets smell and taste like dirt,” wrote one friend. “What a waste of perfectly good butter.”

While my sons agreed with the beet-haters, I didn’t mind. That just means more for my husband, Derek, and I to enjoy.

A few days later I baked the acorn squash with a dollop of brown sugar and butter. OK, maybe more than a dollop. And maybe I use butter a bit too lavishly, but isn’t everything better with butter?

I posted a picture of the golden goodness on Facebook and was informed by a chef friend that squash is “technically a fruit.”

Good grief! Has the world gone mad? Next thing you know someone will call tomatoes a fruit. How can anything you puree and pour over pasta be a fruit? That’s like serving linguine with orange sauce!

Then someone added that cucumbers are actually a fruit, too. I thought my friends were just messing with my mind. I mean, if tomatoes and cucumbers are fruits, then the whole Veggie Tales franchise is built on a lie!

Who is going to break the news to Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber? Not me.

Feeling overwhelmed, I fixed myself a plate of more Green Bluff delicacies: McCutcheon’s spicy beet balls and Sands Trail Farms pickled garlic.

Fortified by my vegetarian snack, I thought about delving into the Internet to discover the truth about fruits and vegetables, but too much knowledge is a dangerous thing.

I’m not about to tell my sons that technically Veggie Tales is Fruity Tales. I can’t handle that kind of responsibility. So for the purpose of the rest of this column a vegetable is whatever I say it is, which brings me to corn.

I am pro-corn. I love it. We grill corn on the cob and serve it as a side dish several times a month. But I cannot abide corn mixed into things like salsa, soups and casseroles. And creamed corn is an abomination. I have no doubt when God destroyed the earth by flood in the days of Noah; it was because people had begun concocting creamed corn. Corn is a stand-alone vegetable.

Except it’s not.

When I opined about corn on Facebook, I was informed that it’s not a vegetable, it’s a grain. A grain!

My world rocked – and not in a good way. But I’ve learned a valuable lesson. I will not be Facebooking about my love for cabbage, rutabaga or potatoes. I can’t process any more mind-quaking revelations.

I think my identity crisis is over, anyway. The smell of barbecue ribs tickles my nose. Derek has braved the autumn chill to grill a meaty feast. My mouth begins to water.

I’ll keep my carnivore card.

Contact Cindy Hval at Her previous columns are available online at columnists.

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