A few months ago, on a snowy night, we took my kids to see Hidden Figures, which tells the story of three absolutely brilliant African-American mathematicians at NASA in the 1960s, who all happened to be female. Based on a true story, the film (and the book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly) revealed the critical contributions those and other African-American women made to the space program. I knew it would be a good film to see — one that stoked my son’s interest in space travel and also one that would share a message of empowerment for my daughter, while teaching each of them a little about how our country has changed over the last 50+ years.
But I didn’t anticipate just how eye-opening and thought provoking the film would be.
Honestly, growing up in a family with deep ties to IBM’s global headquarters, I knew much about mainframe computers, computer programming and engineering. I understood how they’d revolutionized business. And although I had thought about what business might have been like before computers existed to do complex computing, I’d never drawn the connection between that and the space program.
Heck, I hadn’t given the data aspect of space travel any consideration at all. Moreover, I didn’t realize that computers were once human … and how critical and yet mistreated those of African-American descent were.
The film opened up so many great conversations with my kids — ones about equality and civil rights and perseverance. And as they both sit now, reading the young readers edition of Hidden Figures, I’m glad to see that this film has been more than a passing interest for them.
If you haven’t seen the movie and/or read the book, this is your call to action. Do it. It’s a stark look at where our country was just over a half century ago, and how far we’ve come. That’s progress I would hate to see lost.
I love sharing experiences like that with my kids — ones that open our eyes, encourage conversation and allow us all to learn.
Cooking can be like that. There’s something so special about teaching your kids to cook — and so many lessons that can be shared. My daughter Paige, who’s 9, and I recently got into the kitchen to make these glazed beets, which are based on a recipe I shared eons ago on Sarah’s Cucina Bella. This updated version has a more detailed cooking method and a better glaze.
Paige and I recently made a cooking video together while we were making these beets. Rewatching it during the editing process, I was surprised how many little lessons could be imparted in a short time. It’s kind of awesome.
A few notes on this recipe …
I should have called these sauced beets instead of glazed. The sweet tart combination, while plenty tasty, coats and soaks into them, providing a flavorful side dish perfect for summer meals. But it doesn’t quite thicken up like a glaze. (I know, you’re probably wondering why I didn’t just change the name … I was nearing completion of the video when I realized sauced would have been better. No going back now.)
Also, this recipe is pretty easy to make. Always a good thing.
- 4 beets, sliced into ¼-inch slices
- 2 tbsp cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp raspberry jam
- 1 tsp lime zest
- ½ tsp salt
- Place the beets in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until tender. Drain well.
- In a small saucepan, combine cider vinegar, raspberry jam, lime zest and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking until the jam dissolves. Continue cooking 2-3 minutes, until it thickens slightly.
- Add the beets to the pan with the glaze and stir to combine. Cook for an additional 5-6 minutes, or until the glaze reduces more. It will still be liquidy.
- Remove from heat and let sit for a few minutes and then stir again. Transfer to a serving bowl, pouring the glaze over. Stir a few more times while it sits. Cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.