Eat Your Beets: Fudgy Chocolate Beet Brownies

Sure beets are delicious on their own, but baking can be a great winter substitute for gardening. When the winter blues have set in and there’s no way you can get out in the garden to do much in this weather, baking up some chocolatey goodness might be the next best thing. These brownies are great because you can use some of last year’s harvest and claim that they’re sort of healthy. They do have vegetables in them!


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup cooked, pureed beets
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

To make the brownies whisk together all of the dry ingredients and then stir in the beets and oil. Pour batter into a well-greased 8×8 baking pan.

Bake at 350°F for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool before icing.


Icing may not be required for brownies but look at how pink and cheerful it is! Let’s not worry about any healthy eating new years resolutions yet and smother these in frosting. At least it’s naturally dyed!

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2-3 TBS beet juice

To make pink icing squeeze a bit of beet juice out of the puree and add a tablespoon at a time to your powdered sugar until you the icing is spreadable but not runny. Spread evenly over brownies once cooled.

Enjoy! My favorite thing is to have them with a cup of coffee or tea on a cold day. This might also be a great recipe to keep around for Valentine’s Day.

2019 Virginia Biological Farming Conference: You Could Win Two Tickets

One of the greatest things about agriculture is that there’s always more to learn. Whether you’re growing organic vegetables, raising heritage livestock, or tending cut-flower gardens they’ll be something new year after year. If you want to get a jump start on your 2019 education you should attend the Virginia Biological Farming Conference. It’s Virginia’s premier organic and sustainable agricultural conference!

Here’s why you need tickets:

  1. Tickets make excellent last-minute gifts for the farmer, gardener, foodie, or homesteader in your life.
  2. The conference is an excellent opportunity to network with other farmers and agricultural businesses. Be sure to pack your business cards!
  3. SESE’s Ira Wallace will be there! Check out her workshop on growing great garlic and perennial onions.
  4. There’s a workshop for everyone. Learn about anything from beekeeping and raising pastured hogs, to fermenting vegetables and cover crops.
  5. It will be tasty! The conference features locally sourced meals.

Featured Speakers:

  • Joe Salatin, Polyface Farms
  • Leah Penniman, Soul Fire Farm
  • Jeff Poppen, The Barefoot Farmer

Along with tons of workshops, there will also be a Taste of Virginia Social & Dance, silent auction, yoga for farmers, and so much more. To see what else the conference includes you can check out the session summaries or full conference schedule.

Want a chance to win two tickets?

Visit the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange Facebook page between now and December 24th at 6 pm EST and tag a friend on the conference post to be entered in a chance to win!

Purchase tickets here:!event-register/2019/1/11/20th-annual-virginia-biological-farming-conference

We can’t wait to see you there!

Cornbread, Black-Eyed Peas and Collard Greens for New Year’s Good Luck

by Ira Wallace

A pot of southern peas (black-eyed peas are only one kind), some greens simmering on the stove and fresh ground cornbread in the oven always takes me back to my grandma’s kitchen. We always ate collards on New Year’s Day along with some black-eyed peas and freshly baked cornbread for good luck in the coming year.

Updated Collards: Young & Tender, Briefly Cooked

As an heirloom gardener I strive to keep up old fashioned food traditions while updating them to be more sustainable and healthy for our lifestyle. Check out all of our collards online. I prefer my collard greens young, tender and quick cooked with garlic or onions and a little vinegar or hot sauce for added zing.

Fresh from the garden is always best as shown the last few years when our heirloom Alabama Blue Collards, closely followed by Carolina heirloom Yellow Cabbage Collard and Shiny Green Glaze Collards are competing with the ever popular kale varieties.

Home-Grown Corn: Fresh Ground Cornmeal for Incredible Flavor

All winter but especially during the holiday season I feel so blessed to live with great cooks who use our homegrown dent, flint and flour corn to make fresh cornbread, grits, tortillas or polenta almost every day throughout the winter.

The only problem is which do I enjoy most – Floriani Red Flint, old fashioned Tennessee Red Cob, Texas Gourdseed, Blue Clarage or Kentucky Rainbow (aka Daymon Morgan’s)? I think of it like having a dozen children, you love them equally for different reasons.

If you are new to growing and using your own home ground dent and flint corn check out Jordan’s blog post Processing Flour Corn at Home and look for more about growing and using corn for as a staple and for special meals soon.

Black-Eyed Peas for New Year’s Luck

Check out my earlier blog post for a little more about why we eat Black-eyed Peas at New Years and look for a delicious Hot Pot recipe before New Year’s Eve.

Until then here is my recipe for quick vegetarian New Year’s Collards if you want to add some good luck to dinner tonight! (This is also good the way my grandma made them, slow-cooked with bacon grease and served with bacon bits on top).

Quick Southern Style Collards

1-2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 sweet onion, diced

1 to 2 bunches tender collard greens, well washed, stems removed and chopped

1/2 cup rich savory broth or ¼ cup vinegar 
(optional 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Coat the bottom of a large cast iron skillet with the olive oil then add the onion and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the chopped collards to the pan along with the broth or vinegar, optional red pepper flakes and some salt and pepper and cook until tender, but still bright green, 4 to 5 minutes. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Serve with bottled hot sauce and vinegar at the table.

Saving the Past for the Future