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Beets

Use both the deep red root and the green tops of this delicious vegetable. Because they have thick skins, beets store well, but they're best harvested when small, because they tend to become coarse and woody when they get large. Refrigerate beets in a vegetable crisper for up to two weeks. Don't forget to use the greens, too -- they have great vitamin content. Can, pickle, or freeze beets for longer-term serving.

A good source of calcium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, vitamins A and C, beets can be grated raw on salads or in slaws, boiled, baked, steamed, fried, grilled, or microwaved. When cooking beets, leave the root and stem end attached, to prevent "bleeding" of the red juices into the water. (Don't poke at the beet during cooking for the same reason.) Six medium or 12 small beets will serve 3 to 4 people. Good spice partners include caraway, celery seed, chervil, chives, cloves, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger, horseradish, orange peel, parsley, savory, sea salt, tarragon, and thyme.

Broccoli

broccoliA good source of vitamins A and C as well as potassium, iron, and calcium, both the stalks and the florets of this member of the cabbage family are edible. Choose from green (not yellowish) broccoli, with compact florets. To store, place unwashed in an airtight container, and refrigerate. It should keep about five days.

Broccoli can be served raw or boiled, steamed, blanched, stir-fried, deep-fried, roasted, sautéed, or microwaved. If the stalks are large, you may want to remove the tough outer skins with a paring knife. Don't overcook, though, or it will become mushy. To quicken cooking time, slit stems. (If necessary, soak in cold salted water about 15 minutes to remove any bugs or cabbage worms in florets before cooking.) Plan on preparing about two pounds to serve 4. Season with lemon, basil, dill, garlic, marjoram, mustard, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper, rosemary, sage, and/or savory.

Brussels Sprouts

Don't be in too much of a hurry to harvest your Brussels sprouts; they like cold temps. In fact, many people believe that they taste best after a light frost or two. Choose firm, compact sprouts, no bigger than an inch in diameter (bigger ones taste more cabbagey.) No matter when you pick them or bring them home from market, try to cook and serve Brussels sprouts just as soon as you can after their arrival in your kitchen (though they will keep for a few days in refrigerator in an airtight container). Simply wash gently in water then steam or sauté.

These quirky looking veggies are great with lemon, chives, garlic, mustard, nutmeg, paprika, pepper, sea salt, sesame seeds. They're a good source of vitamins C and A, and iron. One pound will make 4 servings.

Cabbage

Cabbage is a versatile vegetable and a good source of vitamin C. Because a head of cabbage will lose moisture quickly, it's best to store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator (for up to two weeks or so). Don't wash it before storing, and don't shred or cut it ahead of time, or the increased surface area will cause it to deteriorate more quickly. Serve red and green cabbages raw -- shredded or chopped -- with dressing, for slaws or salads. Or cook it by steaming, stir-frying, braising, or microwaving. (Keep in mind that overcooking will make the taste stronger.) A one-pound cabbage will serve about four people.

Pair cabbages with apples, raisins, pineapples, squash, and potatoes to make colcannon, a traditional Irish dish. Savoy cabbage is especially good for stuffing. Good spices for cabbages include basil, caraway, cardamom, cayenne, celery seed, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger, lemon peel, marjoram, mustard, onion, oregano, parsley, poppy seed, sage, savory, sea salt, tarragon, and thyme.

carrots

Carrots

Look for bright orange carrots when purchasing -- these have the highest carotene content (which helps the body manufacture vitamin A). Remove tops and stems (or carrots will get limp), then store in a cool, moist environment or refrigerate in a container or plastic bag for a week or two. Only peel carrots if they're old and tough, or you'll lose the nutrients (B vitamins and minerals) just below the skin.

Serve carrots raw, steamed, boiled, baked, grilled, stir fried, or microwaved. One pound is enough for about 4 servings. Use in sweet and savory dishes alike, seasoning with allspice, basil, caraway, chervil, chives, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, curry powder, dill, garlic, ginger, horseradish, lemon, marjoram, mint, nutmeg, parsley, pepper, rosemary, sage, savory, sea salt, and/or thyme.

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