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Can you beet this?

By Penny Stine

Although sometimes I plant something because it's pretty (like the red okra), usually I plant something in my garden because I want to eat it. Up until this year, I never wanted to eat beets.
My mom grew beets in the garden when I was a teenager and then she added even more sugar when she cooked them to create a thick sweet sauce.... aka Harvard beets. I think she also may have pickled them. Although I didn't hate them back then, I don't really want to eat them as an adult and my husband was pretty vocal in his disdain for beets, so I never planted them.
Then I talked to Beth Morris-Feely, who used to be at Redlands Mesa Golf Course and is now the broker at the Bridges in Montrose. She told me she grew lovely beets in her Montrose garden and baked them, wrapped in foil, like a potato.
Seeds are cheap and my gardening buddy, Jan, was willing to split a pack of Chioggia beet seeds, which are kinda cool-looking, with a bulls-eye coloring.
I've cooked them as Beth suggested and have to agree with her. They are wonderfully good with nothing but a little butter, salt and pepper. Even my husband, who insisted he didn't like beets before taking his first bite, like them baked.
In fact, we liked them so much that I bought another pack of beet seeds and planted them in July, hoping for a fall crop. I couldn't find Chioggia seeds, so I planted just plain red ones. 
Being somewhat adventurous and always on the hunt for something I can deep-fry, I decided to make beet chips the other day. Although the recipes said to slice them with a mandolin slicer, I don't have one. So I sliced them with my food processor, as you could see in the photo.
I set my deep-fryer to 375 and fried until I guessed they were done. I thought they were pretty good, but my husband surprisingly said he preferred them baked. He thought they tasted too sweet after I fried them.
I haven't poked around my July-planted beets to see if the beets are developing, but I'm hoping they're happy and still growing. Baked beets in the cooler weather will be lovely.  

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