Shop @ Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen"s Amazon Store

Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen Amazon Store

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Nana Cecelia's Harvard Beets

Help! I Have A Fire In My KitchenThis is a new one on me. Barbara over at "Barbara's Tchatzkahs" who recently sent in the recipe Muffin Meatloaf And Potatoes a la Barbara, now gives us a recipe from the "old country" and her grandmother. Here is what she writes:

Today I was digging through more boxes from parents which I had in storage. My mother passed 7 years ago and I knew she had my some of Nana's recipes in her things somewhere. My Nana, of blessed memory, was one of the best cooks I have ever known. The oldest of 13 children and the daughter of 2 immigrants who ran from the Pogroms in Poland, she could make a gourmet meal out of a crust of bread and a carrot! Well, almost.

And I found some of them!! Many of them are for baked goods (will share later) but I found her recipe for Harvard Beets in my Nana's handwriting. While I only like beets in borscht, this was a favorite with most of the rest of my family.

Hope you can use this - I think she'd be amazed her recipes can be immortalized on the Internet now!

O.k. all this is great. But first thing is first. I had to know why they are called "Harvard" Beets, and not just plain beets. So I went over to and this is what I found.
Harvard beets are cooked beets in a sweet and sour sauce of vinegar and sugar (with spices) and sometimes with butter and/or orange juice. Supposedly created by a Harvard student (or a Yale student), there is also a story that they originated in a tavern in England named 'Harwood' and the 'Harvard' is a mispronunciation of the name.
So there ya go. The reason for Harvard in Harvard beets. And now to the recipe!

Nana Cecelia's Harvard Beets

Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen

  1. 2 1/2 cups of diced, cooked beets
  2. 1/2 cup vinegar
  3. 1/2 cup sugar
  4. 1/2 Tablespoon cornstarch
  5. 2 Tablespoon(s) butter
  6. salt to taste
Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen

Utensils You Need:
  1. Pot for Stove Top
Recipe Directions:
  1. Dice and boil beets until the are soft all the way through (test with a knife)
  2. Mix sugar, cornstarch and vinegar.
  3. Bring this to a boil and add beets.
  4. Cover and take off heat and let stand about 20 minutes.
  5. Add salt to taste and butter and return to low heat until beets are warm.
  6. Serve.

Really, is very easy. Though I am not a beet lover. You can add orange juice which is also in most of the recipes I have seen as well. My father loved borscht with sour cream. I never did get a taste for it, but every time beets are served, I am reminded of eating Sunday Morning breakfast in "Steinbergs Restaurant" which was on the east side of Broadway between 83rd and 84th street. Amazing what memories a simple food dish can conjure!

12 Fire Comments - Click To Post A Comment:

Barbara said...

Thank you again Teddy!

My father (of blessed memory) adored beets. This was his favorite recipe. My brother likes it too.

Borscht, btw, can be made a few different ways. I have to ask a friend of mine for his recipe. He's part Polish also and makes it differently than I do. I want to compare the recipes before I share ;)


Anonymous said...

so i'm picky... you have to peel the beets somewhere along the line. i cut tops and roots off, boil them whole(takes about an hour) then the skins slip off easily, and once cooled enough to handle, can then be diced.

i love the old recipes from grand/great grandmothers, but as i've discovered, many don't include specific times or details that "well, of course, everyone knows that"

my own great grandmother (may she rest in peace), cooked by feel... she could judge the temperature of an oven by holding her hand in it, she judged amounts by how thick or thin the mixture was, and oh my! was it ever hard to figure out what "a handful" of something was, when my hands were so much bigger than hers!

Deborah Dowd said...

I love beets cooked and with butter, but the Harvard style beets are all we had growing up and I really like the plain saory version, but thanks for the info!

Anonymous said...

Wow that does look beautiful…I think I will start cooking this now

Anonymous said...

Hi Teddy,

Just stumbled across your blog today and what a lovely and interesting blog you have :) And congratulations for winning the award for the best food blog of 2007.

Erik said...

You have a fun and creative site! Keep on blogging.


Reena Lyon said...

My grandmother would have been extremely pleased to see this recipe being shared. I don't particularly care for it, but it's a holiday tradition in my family to make Harvard beets, and the smell conjures up all sorts of memories for me.

Excellent blog btw!

Anonymous said...

I’ll have to make a new rule for myself. Don’t come to your blog when I am hungry! Everything looks so delicious!

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting recipe. I am not a big fan of beets, but you actually make this sound worth trying. Thanks

Unknown said...

I'm visiting ur blog first time..That Beet root recipe sounds hubby likes it most..i'm gonna make it sure....up here in U.S. i always have a hard time trying to find of my friend introduced me to a great resource and i thought that i pass great along as well.

Doug Barnard said...

Tried making this before but couldn't get the food texture quite right. This recipe worked perfect, thanks!

Suresh Urs said...

Nice recipe thanks fantastic post. Clickfoodsnearme