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HELOISE: Chinese Beets recipe

Dear Heloise: I lost your recipe for Heloise's Chinese Beets. I looked for it, but it doesn't seem to be anywhere. I read your column in The Orange County (Calif.) Register daily. Thank you for all the years of good hints. -- Joan R., via email

Joan, say "hi" to my friends in Orange County! It's been years since this family recipe was printed. It's a good time to run it again. Get together the following:

6 cups, or 3 (16 ounces each) cans, sliced or whole beets

1 cup sugar

1 cup vinegar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

24 whole cloves (less if you don't want a strong taste)

3 tablespoons ketchup

3 tablespoons oil (optional)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Salt to taste

Drain the beets. Set aside 1 1/2 cups of the liquid. In a medium saucepan, place the beets and reserved liquid. Then add all the remaining ingredients. Mix well and cook for 3 minutes over medium heat, or until the mixture thickens. Let cool before storing in the refrigerator. Serve as a side dish or in a salad. These beets can be too tangy for some people's tastes. Adjust the recipe by using fewer cloves, and leave out the vanilla for a different flavor. -- Heloise


Dear Readers: Do you know what hominy is or how to cook with it?

I recently just "rediscovered" it, and I started wondering. I know it's corn, but ...? It is the center of the corn that is left over after the corn kernel is soaked in a solution to bleach it, then washed.

Hominy can be eaten by itself or added to recipes such as soups, stews and casseroles. I sprinkle some on my salad for a nice addition. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: Is blackstrap molasses the same as regular molasses? -- Louise S., via email

No, it is not! Molasses comes from the juice of sugar cane or sugar beets. The juice is boiled to remove the sugar crystals. How many times the juices are boiled determines the "type" of molasses.

Light or regular molasses is made from the first boiling, while dark molasses comes after a second boiling. Blackstrap molasses is what remains after a third boiling, and it has a bitter taste. It's used in slow-cooking recipes, e.g., baked beans or barbecue. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: Cleaning out the pulp and seeds when preparing winter squash using a spoon was difficult. I looked in my utensil drawer and chose the larger end of my melon-ball cutter. The insides of the winter squash come out with very little effort using the melon-ball cutter. Don't turn it; simply pull it along the inside of the squash. The pulp and seeds come out easily. -- W.B. in Texas