Monday, August 5, 2013

Holy Macaroni!

Or to be more correct . . . Holy Purple Top Turnips!  I was checking in the garden yesterday for kohlrabi big enough to harvest.  They're planted in a raised bed right next to some turnips which I had no idea would be as large as they are.


Yikes!  Before you think I must be blind as a bat not to see these beautiful purple and white orbs popping up out of the soil, it's because I plant very intensively in my raised beds and the greens from the turnips totally obscured what was growing beneath them.

So . . . surprise, surprise!  (What was it I said recently about this being, at least, a good year for root crops?)

We usually eat turnips raw cut in slices or sticks with dip.  But I didn't have any dip hanging around in the fridge so I decided to prepare one of the turnips to have as a cooked veggie with dinner last night.

I cubed it, boiled it in water, drained it, sprinkled on some chopped chives just to add a little color interest to the white cubes, buttered it and added salt and pepper.

While dinner was cooking, I took a tour of the Internet thinking I might discover a delectable way to cook turnips.  (I have a feeling we're going to have quite a few.)  Besides noting some interesting sounding recipes, I learned that if you boil turnips you should change the cooking water a couple of times to get rid of any strong flavor the turnips may have which becomes prominent when cooked.  (Drop everything, run out to the kitchen, change cooking water.  Twice.)

I also learned that maximum size before the turnip turns woody and develops a bitter taste is about 3" across.  Ooops, these two I found yesterday were a bit bigger.

Served at dinner the turnips were flavorful and yet did have enough of a bitter finish (do you suppose turnips can have a "finish" like wine does?) that I found them, frankly, objectionable.

As my dear hubby said, "Well, we know we like them raw.  And raw foods are better for us anyway.  So why cook them?"

Alrighty then.  On the agenda for today:  Make some dip.  Arrange a plate of raw turnips, kohlrabi, zucchini, baby carrots and sprigs of curly kale . . . and enjoy.  (And check the turnip patch and harvest any that are already between 2" and 3".)

P.S.  I served several slices of raw turnip on our breakfast plates this morning (no dip made yet), and they were just fine -- no bitter taste.

23 comments:

  1. I grated some last year and lacto-fermented them and it came out better than sauerkraut.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Actually some veggies are better for us cooked a bit. Maybe not better for you so much as easier to digest and get the full goodness from them. Carrots are one of them that are absorbed and digested better if they are cooked a bit. I'm sure there are more but I'd have to do some research and I have to make supper now so I'll look another time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sparkless - It's probably a toss up between cooked and uncooked. I can believe what you say, but lots of healthy-for-us enzymes are destroyed by cooking, too.

      Delete
    2. It really depends on the veggie. Some are easier for us to break down if the process is started by cooking. You don't have to cook carrots long. Personally I don't like cooked carrots at all, I just chew them lots and hope for the best.

      Delete
    3. Sparkless - I don't like cooked carrots either! I've cut down on the amount I grow in the garden because since my husband's been retired we don't go through nearly as many. (I always packed his lunch each day and put in an amount of raw carrot sticks.)

      I had to laugh at your " . . . I just chew them lots and hope for the best." That's all we can do (hope for the best) on a lot of things!

      Delete
  3. As I read this post I couldn't help but notice the difference in how we approach turnips. All my life growing up in the South, I had never eaten a turnip bulb part of the plant until I was an adult - of which by the way I find delicious - only the greens were ever eaten. And my Alabama great-grandmother had access to homegrown turnips, so clearly the whole plant would've been available. And now I learn the bulb part can be eaten raw and is delicious that way too!
    PS well just as I went to hit the publish button, I read this to my also southern-brought-up husband, and he said his mom always fixed their greens with the turnip cut up and cubed in with it. He didn't mention if he ever just had the bulb without the greens though?! Thanks again Mama Pea for another thought provoking topic!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I fix the greens with some root chopped up and sometimes cook just the root with butter but to me they are better if you quarter the root and also cook with some quartered potatoes and butter salt and pepper. Substitute a wok for boiling and add garlic/ginger/soy sauce and you get a whole different taste.

      Delete
    2. Lisa - Of course, I've always heard of turnip greens . . . but never had any! We do eat beet greens though. The idea of some of the turnip bulb mixed in with the greens appeals to me. I know cubed turnips are suggested in many soup and stew recipes. Foods and food preferences certainly do differ in the different sections of our country, don't they? So interesting!

      Sunnybrook Farm - I've boiled them half and half with potatoes, mashed the whole batch and we like that. It's hard to tell the mixture from straight mashed potatoes to my mind. I like the sound of your wok recipe. Thanks for sharing.

      Delete
  4. I like them sliced raw with a little salt, like green onions!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Little Homestead - Yes, we always put salt on our raw slices, too.

      Delete
  5. Wow... look so wonderful! It's so difficult to plant turnip in Indonesia.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Replies
    1. Stephanie - I'm not sure how much I had to do with the turnips . . . they just appeared like magic!

      Delete
  7. WOW~ Those are some healthy looking root vegetables! I've only had them cooked with (tons of) butter. I will have to try them raw. I am so impressed that you can get them to grow that size with intensive planting. Mine tend to be smaller rather than larger.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Susan - When I thin the sprouts, I judge in my mind's eye how big they could grow by the space I leave between them. I put the rows only 6" apart. That would give the turnip bulb three inches to grow out on each side . . . which would be much bigger than they should be allowed to grow!

      Delete
  8. See there was an advantage to all that rain.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tombstone Livestock - You're so right! It kept the soil moist and friable . . . and the root crops tender.

      Delete
  9. I had never had a raw turnip til last summer and they are much better raw in my opinion!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jen - I'm with you there on that one, Kiddo!

      Delete
  10. Here in southeast Texas we eat a lot of cooked greens. We're not fond of turnip greens so we eat the turnips with mustard greens. We cook them with a little pork for seasoning, cut the turnips up a little and serve with a piece of buttered cornbread on the side. The old timers always had a bottle of chili's they grew covered in vinegar. When they ate greens they sprinkled the vinegar over the bowl of greens. We're still eating greens/turnips that my husband canned 2 yrs ago. Ironically, there is no meat flavoring in the canned version but they taste exactly like the fresh cooked.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. D - Welcome and thanks for commenting.

      When I read descriptions like yours of cooking that I didn't grow up with and am not familiar with, I wish there was some way those "recipes" could be shared. You know, REAL cooking, not necessarily something you'd find in a cook book. Boy, when you can open a home canned product and have it taste as good as fresh . . . now that can't be beat!

      Delete
    2. You know that would be awesome to have one place to go and we could share our "real cooking" recipes and where they came from. I am amazed at how much food northerners can put up in such a short growing season. We are definitely spoiled here because we have close to 3 growing seasons. We do have droughts, rainy seasons, wearing shorts one day, ice on the roof the next day. Yeah, that's Texas.
      A weird thing to me. You would think I could buy okra at a reasonable price since we live in the south. Nope. A little plastic container of raggedy looking okra is almost $5.00 dollars in the grocery stores. That's life. I really enjoy your blog. Thanks for sharing.

      Delete
    3. D - I think sharing "real" recipes is one of the best things about blogging. Folks tend to be honest and kindly share their actual cooking experiences.

      Maybe those of us living where we have short growing seasons know we have to be a little more intense about it and have figured out what works to that end. When we first moved up here, I sure learned a lot from the old-timers who had gardened for years . . . often when it was food that had to get them through the winter!

      Your comment about okra being so expensive in your area where one would think it would be easy to grow makes me think of raspberries or blueberries here. Both grow wild for the picking and it's not hard to grow domestic plants in a garden. Yet the prices they go for in the grocery store . . . ridiculous!

      Thank you for the nice words. I appreciate your kindness.

      Delete