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Stirring up memories


Family life in the snow
February 27, 2007

When Jeanine Beynon looked out her windows into banks and banks of snow during a South Dakota winter, she wasn't over worried. Yes, she wrapped her children up in layers and layers of warm and woolly wraps.

That's one of the things her youngest daughter, Valerie Beynon (now of Bainbridge) can laugh about now. When I asked Valerie what she remembered about living in South Dakota she didn't pause for a second.

"How long it takes to get dressed."

Jeanine wrapped up the three children and set them out the door, maybe to go skating on the nearby field the Park and Recreation Department flooded every year to make a rink for skaters.

After all, what was a little snow? It wasn't nearly as bad, Jeanine told Valerie, as when they lived in Goosebay, Labrador, and they had to dig tunnels through the snow just to get to the mailbox. This was a piece of cake—or maybe a bowl of popcorn.

"Thank heavens for Jiffy Pop!" says Valerie.

A true military family, the Beynons hailed from all over. Mother Jeanine was born in France, Dad Richard came from Ohio. The two welcomed Sandra in San Antonio when Richard was stationed at Lackland Air Force Base. Bruce joined the family while they tunneled around in Labrador.

Valerie surprised them all several years later in Mitchell, S.D.

"You were a Catholic 'oops'!" Jeanine told her.

When Valerie was 2, the family decided that after 24 years, the time had come for Richard to retire from the Air Force. Mitchell became their permanent home, and Richard entered the real estate business. He specialized in helping families locate and afford livable first homes. They loved him for it. Valerie recalls that Richard frequently arrived home with a gift from one of his happy clients. Many of them hunted as a pastime and happily shared their game. Other times buffalo meat made up the offering. (How appropriate for South Dakota.) Whatever appeared. Jeanine cooked it up for the family table. (All of today's recipes are from the Beynon family collection.)

Baked Pheasant
1 can (10.75-ounce) cream of chicken soup
½ cup apple cider
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¾ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 clove (small) garlic, minced
1 can (4-ounce) sliced mushrooms, drained
2 pheasants

Blend all ingredients except pheasants and paprika. Pour over pheasants and sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 350 degrees, covered, for 1½ to 2 hours. Remove cover the last 30 minutes of cooking. After 1 hour, sprinkle again with paprika.

Buffalo Meatloaf
2 pounds ground buffalo (available at Publix and New Leaf Market in Tallahassee)
1½ packages soda crackers, finely chopped
1 egg
½ cup milk
½ medium onions, chopped
½ medium green pepper, chopped
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
salt, pepper, garlic salt

Mix all the ingredients together and form into loaf. Bake at 275-300 degrees for approximately 1 hour. Serve on a platter with desired garnishes.

The Beynons settled into a grand homestead. In the early part of the 20th century it had been a guest house—sort of a bed and breakfast—for visiting Easterners. Teddy Roosevelt himself spent a few nights. He was probably hunting buffalo, moose or some of those delicious pheasants. The house had a working pump for water, hitching posts for visiting horses, big trees, and, like all South Dakota dwellings—a mud room for those messy days of Spring Thaw.

"Every mud room had dark linoleum so it didn't show the mess," Valerie remembers.

The gardens held Jeanine's special love—and attention. A fine English flower garden provided her summer focus. The vegetable garden provided a bounty during the short growing season. Jeanine loved to use fresh, local products for her family's meals.

Curried Pumpkin Soup
½ stick butter
1 onion sliced
1 16-ounce can pumpkin or 1 fresh pumpkin finely diced
4 cups chicken stock or broth
1 bay leaf (optional)
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ to ½ teaspoon curry powder
1/8 to ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups milk

Sauté onion in butter over medium heat until brown. Stir in pumpkin, stock, bay leaf, sugar, curry, nutmeg and milk. Heat until ready to boil, then reduce heat and let simmer, stirring occasionally. Remove the bay leaf. Puree, if desired. Serve hot or cold.

Rhubarb Pie
8-inch double pie crust (see recipe below)
4 cups rhubarb, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 1/3 cups sugar
6 tablespoons flour
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons butter

Combine rhubarb, sugar, flour and egg. Stir to mix well. Pour into pie crust and dot with butter. Cover with top crust. Crimp edges and make slits in top. Bake 15 minutes at 400 degrees, reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 35 minutes more. Note: If using frozen rhubarb, mix with other ingredients without thawing.

Pie Crust for Rhubarb Pie
2 cups shortening
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons vinegar

Blend shortening, flour, baking powder and salt. Add egg to 1 cup measuring cup, add vinegar and fill with cold water to the ¾-cup level. Sprinkle over flour mixture and toss with fork. Divide into six portions.

Note: Use now or wrap in waxed paper and freeze. Thaw before using. This crust has a tendency to slip down the sides of the pie tin if baked unfilled. Best used with pies or quiches baked in the crust.

After many years of loving the state, Richard realized that there is "only so much snow that you can shovel." The family said good-bye to their much-loved home and headed to the greener grass and real estate markets of Florida. They packed up their furnishings and clothing, but they also took along many happy memories. I asked Valerie for one final winter memory.

She told me how they usually drove a big heavy car and then loaded the trunk with rock salt so that the driver would have plenty of traction if the car plowed into a snow bank.

Once, though, Jeanine chose to drive a sporty little Volkswagen. As luck would have it, she slid right off the road into a snow bank and was going nowhere. All of a sudden a pickup pulled up and four burly guys hopped out. Each headed for a corner of the VW. One, two, three—Lift! And they put Jeanine and her car back on the road.

The winter rule of the cold, snowy country is you never, never leave anyone by the side of the road. You stop and help!

"You know," Jeanine told her family, "if I'd been driving the Buick, this wouldn't have happened."

Valerie went on, "She was kinda glad it did, and drove that VW 'til it died."

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Trilla Pando is a member of the Southern Foodways Alliance & the Story Circle Network