Harvard Beets

Posted by mrssmythe on May 26, 2015 in Cooking |

I’ve been loosely following the menus listed in The Modern Family Cook Book (1943). You may remember me blogging about that book when I first got it. (And if not, you can read all about it HERE). Initially, the number of recipes featuring organ meats scared me off, but, after a second look, I realized that author Meta Given had done an excellent job planning varied meals that emphasized seasonal produce. I decided to give her another chance. I’ve been following her menus ever since. Which is not to say I haven’t made the occasional substitution. For example, instead of serving “Veal Paprika” tonight, I made “Chicken Paprikash”.

Also on tonight’s menu – next to parsley buttered potatoes and bread and butter – was a dish called “Harvard Beets”, an old New England classic.


There was no way my family was going to eat beets. Even CPT America was going to draw the line, I thought. Still, I was determined to at least try them. Who knew? Maybe after seeing beets on their plates, the kids would stop balking at more pedestrian things like grapefruit and tomatoes.

So, I made Harvard Beets.


And Pepper loved them.

I was shocked. She even dipped her chicken into the beet “gravy”.

“This is delicious!” She gushed.

I thought she was trying to be funny.

Then she downed the single beet slice I’d given her (my expectations were fairly low). “You should make this more often,” she said.

I didn’t know what to say.

Ginger (who watches her older sister carefully) sampled her beet next. “It’s good,” she admitted.

CPT America was not won over (he’s a hard sell on hot pink foods), but, I was surprised at how much I liked these beets. They were tart and a little sweet, they were simple to make, and they brought a lovely bit of color to the meal. I’ll probably make this dish again.

If you would like to make your own batch of “Harvard Beets”, I’ve included the recipe here. I can’t guarantee you’ll like it, but, then again, you might be surprised.

From the dining room table, feeling almost brave enough to try “Baked Turnip Puff” next,

Mrs. Smythe

                          HARVARD BEETS

1 No. 2 tin beets (I used a 14.5 oz. can)     2 TB cider vinegar
2 TB butter                                   1/4 tsp. salt
2 TB flour                                    pepper
1/4 tsp. onion juice (I omitted this)         1 1/2 tsp. sugar

    Drain beets, saving liquid. Melt butter, blend in flour, add beet liquid, and stir constantly over direct heat until sauce boils and thickens. Add remaining ingredients and the beets, and continue heating slowly until beets are hot through. 5 servings
    Cooked fresh beets may be used, substituting water for the beet juice.

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Goat Rock Trail

Posted by mrssmythe on May 24, 2015 in Hiking |

We spent a pleasant afternoon at Hampden Memorial Park today. If you haven’t visited lately, it’s worth a look. The spray park is on and they’ve added a bright new playscape:


Before exploring that, though, we dragged the kids up Goat Rock Trail which starts at one end of the parking lot, right beside the ball field.


It’s amazing how quickly you’re out of the park and into the hills.


This was our first time on the trail and, at the time, I had no idea it connected to Gerrish Park, just over hill. We hiked only to Lookout Point, which took about 15 minutes of steep-ish climbing and offered this fine view:


Along the way, we enjoyed plenty of late-spring beauty. Little wildflowers….


Interesting fungi…(I thought these looked like shells!)


Mossy rocks…


And these fascinating flowers:


They’re Pink Ladies Slippers – a member of the orchid family – also know as the moccasin flower. They’re slow growing and some can live for more than twenty years!


Are you wondering why the trail is called “Goat Rock Trail”? I wondered. At first, I thought it was because you had to be something of a goat, yourself, to make it up the steep bits. But, as it turns out, the trail commemorates a goat who died there in the late 1700’s when it got itself pinned in some rocks. Poor goat. You can still visit the rocks, though we did not because we were on the wrong end of the trail.

From the dining room table, hoping to hike the rest of that trail soon,

Mrs. Smythe



Cows in the Outfield

Posted by mrssmythe on May 23, 2015 in Critters |

Today I saw cows in the outfield. They were grazing on a baseball diamond at the local high school. I spotted them while waiting for the girls’ track and field practice to finish up.


Some quick thinking person had shut the gate behind them, so they were contained – but still! Cows!


Not what I was expecting to see!


At first, they were a little upset about being penned in. Then they started eating.


By the time someone arrived to collect them, they had eaten quite a bit.


Too much, in fact, to be lured by the hay their rescuer brought with him.

(By the way, this man isn’t the cows’ owner, he’s the next door neighbor. And, this was his first time driving cattle. He was only doing it as a favor to the owners, who were away from home when their cows wandered off. What a nice guy!)


He brought his sons along, and, together with the policeman, they managed to persuade the cows to leave the enclosure.


Everyone had to work pretty hard to get those cows to go in the same direction all at once.


Watching them work gave me all new appreciation for cowboys (and made track practice go a heck of lot faster, too!).

From the dining room table, certain there’s going to be a bit of clean-up needed before the baseball players take the field again,

Mrs. Smythe



French Kids Eat Everything

Posted by mrssmythe on May 22, 2015 in Books, Cooking, Family |


I stumbled onto this book at the library last week. Always interested in hearing the experiences of others who’ve moved to foreign countries, I snapped it up. And, it was really an excellent book. The author talks about her year-long sojourn in France, with an emphasis on food. She talks at length about her five-year-old’s school where the lunch menu revolved around things like endive salad and pâté, where there were no alternate menu choices, where the children got two hour lunch breaks and ate at tables with place settings and tablecloths. There were also no snacks. Her daughter howled in protest, then gradually settled in. A year later, the family settled back into life in Vancouver, and the same daughter had trouble adjusting to ten minute North American lunches where the kids wolfed their food and talked with their mouths full. Even if you aren’t interested in altering your family’s eating habits, this is a fascinating look at the culinary habits of another culture.

And that’s how I was reading the book at first. I wasn’t planning on implementing any of the “food rules” I encountered. And then came the day Ginger consumed 1,000 calories in Honey Nut Cheerios alone. That was practically all she ate. Every time she came to the table for an official meal, she picked at her food. She wasn’t hungry. And then, an hour later, she was back at the Cheerios.

Clearly, we had a problem.

So! We became French. (Or, at least strongly influenced by them).

Now, I’m cooking two hefty, well-balanced meals for the family eat day. (Breakfast is still largely serve yourself, though more supervised). We have a nice, sit-down snack in the afternoon. The kids are free to eat fruit and vegetables whenever they choose, but the crackers and the chips and the cereal and the rest of it is off limits unless it’s meal time. Basically, this is how I grew up eating, but somehow I’d drifted.

And, how are the kids taking it?

They are in strong protest mode – so much so, that when I got home from the library yesterday, I found this book in the book bag:


“Someone” had managed to get it through check out without my noticing. I think it’s a hint. France is my children’s least favorite country at the moment.

What interests me most, though, is that their anger is more about control than it is about food. I think they actually like the bigger, more balanced meals. They’re even willing to eat a few bites of the new things I’m pushing – even things as “detestable” as green beans. But, the girls do not like being told when they can eat. Right now, the only French thing that could possibly meet with their approval would be a French Fry.

Oh well, maybe the chocolate mousse I plan to serve tonight will sway them.

From the dining room table (which is seeing a heck of a lot more use these days),

Mrs. Smythe

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Caffeinated Kipper

Posted by mrssmythe on May 18, 2015 in Critters |

Monday morning: Kipper is finishing up the dregs of CPT America’s coffee. Manny looks on in disgust.


Would you like some Manny?


He declines icily.

Kipper, however, has no such compunctions. He picks right up where he left off.




(Don’t worry. There was only a tiny bit of coffee left in the mug.)

From the dining room table, getting ready to watch an old movie from the 1940’s,

Mrs. Smythe

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