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Did you know that horseradish is not in the radish family but actually in the family of cabbage and broccoli? It belongs to the family “Brassicaceae.” It is a native plant to Europe and Western Asia. It is a root plant that can achieve a height of about five feet!

Horseradish - Photo from the Botanic Garden in Utrecht, Netherlands

The root itself has little aroma, but when the root is grated or cut, that grate or cut damages the cells in the root causing the release of an oil in the plant that causes an irritation to the nose, eyes and the mouth. This is what we would also call the heat in the vegetable. Consider a hot mustard…same thing.

It is a perennial plant in zones 2 – 9, and can be grown outside of these areas as an annual. It is the main root that is harvested in the fall and the secondary roots, also removed from the ground, can then be replanted, and will remain in a dormant state until the following spring. It can also be an invasive plant by sending the offshoots of the root to the area surrounding it.

The root - Photo by Anna - Vienna, Austria

How did this vegetable get its name? Well as is usual on the internet there are all kinds of stories. One tells a story of a sick horse that they thought was not going to make it, so its owners let it eat whatever it wanted. It went to a weed that they thought was poisonous, and the horse miraculously survived! So they tried the plant themselves and found it delicious. The problem with this story is the horse ate the greens not the root. Another story is that the word is derived from the German word for the plant, which is “meerrettich.” It is believed that English speakers could not properly pronounce the “meer” part of the word. They would say “mare” which then they turned to horse. Another story indicates that the plant is a radish, and it was given this name to mean that the vegetable was “as strong as a horse.” So which is the right story? Who knows, so pick the one you like best!

The horseradish that we using in the kitchen is actually a combination of the root plus a bit of vinegar and cream. The most popular meat that this is served with is beef. But it can be used as a spread on a sandwich. And there is actually a cheddar made using horseradish that is wonderful on a roast beef sandwich. It is also added to the ever popular Bloody Mary beverage.  Try grating a bit of this root into your mashed potatoes for a bit of a zing!

It has medicinal properties as well. In years gone by it was used to help cure the common cold. It has also been used as a diuretic. It is also being used in the studies of cancer. It has been known to kill certain bacterial strains.

So next time you are at a dinner table where horseradish is being served, you can impart a bit of interesting facts about this incredible root!

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With cooler temperatures now at night, comfort food starts to rear its head more often. So, last night’s menu was Chicken Fried Steak with Bacon Sausage Gravy, mashed potatoes and steamed peas. Total comfort food! Photos will be inserted as soon as my new computer arrives! Enjoy the recipe!

Ingredients:

Steaks:
2 #’s round steak or cube steak, thin sliced and tenderized with a mallet
1 cup of flour
4 shakes of garlic powder
2 shakes of Hungarian paprika
3 shakes of onion powder
2 shakes of Spike
4 twists of fresh ground pepper
2 eggs beaten with a good splash of milk
Vegetable oil for frying

Gravy:
3/4 # New York Style sausage
6 slices of peppered bacon
1/4 cup of flour
2 1/2 cups of hot milk

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the sausage in a baking pan sprayed with non stick spray. Bake for 15 minutes and turn. Bake until cooked through. Cut the sausage into 1/3 inch slices. Set aside. Save the fat drippings.

Fry up the peppered bacon until crispy. When cooled, crumble and add to the sausage. Take the bacon drippings and add to the sausage drippings to make 1/4 cup of drippings.

Bacon & Sausage Ready for the Gravy

In a bowl beat the eggs with the splash of milk. Take a cooling rack and a piece of foil. Lay the foil under the rack. In a gallon size plastic bag combine the flour with all the seasonings. Shake the bag and you are now good to go. Take a piece of the steak and shake it in the flour. Next dip it in the egg mixture, then back into the flour bag to coat a second time. Set the coated piece on the rack to dry. Repeat this with all the meat.

Steak is Ready to Fry!

In a frying pan, heat oil over medium high heat enough vegetable to coat the pan. When the oil is hot fry the meat two pieces at a time until browned on both sides.

Steak is Cooking. Can You Smell It?

Drain on paper towel and place in a warmed oven.

With the meat all cooked, in a pan add the sausage/bacon drippings. Heat over medium heat and slowly add the flour. Gradually add the hot milk a bit at a time stirring constantly until thickened and bubbly. Add the sausage and bacon bits. Serve over the steak along with mashed potatoes and steamed peas.

Now Grab a Glass of Wine and Enjoy!

Serve Merlot with this recipe!

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