The beet goes on — Chef Ike Frazee participates in Tasting Days for the seventh year in a row | TheUnion.com

The beet goes on — Chef Ike Frazee participates in Tasting Days for the seventh year in a row

Amanda Thibodeau
Special to The Union

Chef Ike Frazee likes to cook classic foods using whole, local, seasonal ingredients. And if you've ever been to Ike's Quarter Café in Nevada City, then you know he's really good at it.

His restaurant's sole mission has always been to "bring everyone together to eat in a better and tastier way."

"First, you eat real food, from clean local sources, properly cooked and spiced with love and flavor," Frazee said. "Then 'Magic in the Belly' happens: when the food is so good it turns into more than just nourishment, it changes your whole attitude from the inside and gives you a new, fresh outlook on life."

Frazee has been bringing this special magic out of his restaurant and into the classroom in western Nevada County schools as part of Sierra Harvest's Tasting Days for seven years now. Originally billed as "Tasting Week," this popular part of Farm to School is bringing 19 real life chefs into 29 schools over the month of October.

In past years, all of this happened in one crazy week, but this part of the program has grown to serve so many students (nearly 3,000) that now it's a whole delicious month.

Earlier this month, Ike was a guest chef at Mt. St. Mary's Academy in Grass Valley. There, he highlighted beets as his secret ingredient for eager students. When asked about his strategy for getting kids to eat new veggies, Frazee replied, "I like to make something really familiar and then sneak in the veggies."

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Using this approach with his demo was a hit. He served hot dogs with a beet pickle relish and beet brownies.

Frazee's demo was a feast of the senses; students got the chance to participate in a hands-on way by cutting up cooked beets, and collectively adding an array of spices and vinegar to make the final relish.

The verdict? According to one fourth grader, "I never knew I liked beets until I tried this relish!"

You too can relish the experience of adding beets to your life by trying Ike's easy (kid approved) recipe:

Beet pickle relish

About 2 cups beets (diced small)

2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups white vinegar

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill or 2 tablespoons dried

1 tablespoon dry mustard powder

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon clove

Combine all ingredients into a small pot and bring to a boil. Turn down heat to medium and simmer for about a half an hour. Spoon out a bit to test consistency. It should be firm yet soft to the bite.

Mix it up and add celery or carrots. Eat on your favorite foods!

Amanda Thibodeau was the director of the Farm to School program for six years and now writes the Harvest of the Month article each month for Sierra Harvest.

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