Let’s Stop Beeting Around The Bush Here

I’ve been surprised more than once by quite ‘aged’ postcards which give off a close parody, if not a definite resemblance, to what we call ‘pop art’. The ‘Beet It’ card above was one of those surprises.

Here we have Master Somebody-or-Other, a little man-boy set in the center of two beets (woooof that would be strange to have happen to one!) being urged to ‘Beet It’. He does not seem overly concerned, even though his pants are short and even though his boots seem to resemble bent Tootsie-Rolls. Maybe it is because his collar is so tight – could it be giving a Botox-like assistance to the muscles of his face? And in the manner of so many of Henry James’ male romantic protagonists, his hands have been shoved into his pockets.

That one movement says it all, to me. There must be a girl around. A girl he likes. Because this is what Henry James’ romantic male protagonists do when faced with this strange thing . . . they stick their hands in their pockets.

Why, exactly, they do this is up for debate. I can think of a few reasons, myself, but who really cares. They are in a book, not in real life. And besides, we are here to talk about food, not about little boys stuck inbetween the two large purple vegetables of their imaginations, trying to figure out how they can win a way out of this incredible situation.

Beets, to me, are an all-year long vegetable. You can eat the roots, the leaves, both together – you can pickle them or do just about a million things to them if you happen to like them. I do.

It surprised me a bit to discover they are in the amaranth family. But even that doesn’t scare me off. There is always something new to do with beets, aside from confusing them with imaginary barriers to life unfolding. I may just try some of these recipes. If you like beets, you might like to, too!

I, Too, Always Head to the Mutton Cooling Room On My Vacation

mutton final one

mutton back final one

My dear sister – Will leave here in about 2 hr am having a good time was to a show last night. Will get to Denver at 6 PM Fri. C.V.G. Was here Thur. saw P.Felix and Wm. F. Will send you card from Denver.

You have to wonder if her fingers were a bit frozen while writing this note to dear sister Verdie in March of 1909. The postcard is a lovely rendering in pen and ink of ‘The Mutton Cooling Room‘ at Swift and Co. in Chicago.

Mutton, of course, is sheep. And a sheep is a lamb which has grown up. The flavor of mutton is stronger and gamier (and fattier) than the lamb we are accustomed to in the US, but in times past it was enjoyed here.

From the Steamship Menu Collection

This is a lunch menu from the Steamship Haverford of the American Line. The voyage of 16 days made for an extremely long transatlantic journey for these passengers. The Gjenvick-Gjønvik Archives has the Passenger List for this voyage.

* Scotch Broth

* Curried Lamb a la Madras

* Stewed Rump Steak

* Button Onions

* Spaghetti in Cream

* Roast Jacket Potatoes

COLD

* Sardines on Toast

* Roast Beef

* Roast Mutton

* Ox Tongue

* Leicester Brawn

* Bologna Sausage.

* Pickled Pigs Feet

* Tomato Salad

* Cocoanut, Custard Tart

* Small Pastry

* Cheese

* Boston Crackers

* Soda & Oaten Biscuits

* Tea

* Coffee

Having been a chef in charge of production cooking myself, I suspect that the ‘Cold Roast Mutton’ was part of the same animal which also yielded the ‘Scotch Broth’ and the more gently named and Frenchified ‘Curried Lamb a la Madras’.

Mutton can actually be made edible in ways beyond stewing it with masses of spices but it still has a name problem. It’s mutton, you see. And who wants mutton. In this recipe from New Zealand they got around that problem nicely by calling it ‘Colonial Goose’.

I’m packing now, to head out for my own vacation hoping to take a visit to the Mutton Cooling Room. But before I go, let me leave you with a clip from Seinfeld called ‘Thanks for Mutton’.