Welcome to Turnip Town

When I first started cooking a lot, especially when I was cooking from vegetarian recipes, I was a bit confounded because many of the recipes include bell peppers. I cannot eat bell peppers of any color; they do not like me, so we have a mutual non-aggression pact (I don’t eat them and they don’t bother me). I could never make those recipes the way the recipe said (yes, I did used to follow recipes more religiously, which is part of how I can disregard them more easily now), and I had the sense that I was making it “wrong,” somehow, that I didn’t know how it was supposed to taste. Eventually, though, I realized that what I was producing tasted quite good, even if it didn’t have an ingredient that the recipe’s creators included, sometimes in large quantities–which meant that I wasn’t making it wrong, after all.

Sometimes, in such recipes, I’ll make up the bulk that the peppers would occupy with more of the recipe’s other ingredients (onions, for example, or one of the other vegetables), but that’s rarely necessary. And, in general, I throw in more onions (and more garlic) than the recipe lists, no matter what the recipe is. But the spices and/or herbs, and the main ingredients themselves are what give the dish its flavor, and the peppers aren’t missed, at least not by me. I’m not going to make something where peppers are a main ingredient–stuffed peppers, for example–but that’s no different from not making any recipe because you don’t care for the main ingredient; the flavor of the main ingredient will overwhelm everything else you throw in, and there’s no rescuing it if you don’t like the main ingredient.

All of which is a preface to the turnip adventure. I finally got around to cooking some of them yesterday–the purple-tops; I left the hakurai for another day–and no matter what you do to them, they’re still turnips. For those of you who are interested in trying this at home, I cut up a lot of onions–three cups, maybe? possibly more–and garlic. I sweated them in a combo of butter, coconut cream (I got some of the box at the bottom of this on sale, and have been experimenting with how to use it), and olive oil–probably a half a tablespoon of each, then threw in the smashed and chopped garlic for awhile.

I added spices: ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, ground coriander, a pinch of cloves, some grated orange peel I had in the fridge that had dried up, some candied lemon peel and orange peel (I had made the first one, but the second was from KAF), and a handful of leftover roasted pineapple. I also had some carrots–I cut them into strips in the food processor. I took the new one for a spin yesterday, and sliced up radishes and watermelon radishes for roasting, the carrots, and all the damn turnips, after I peeled the latter two. I tossed the carrots with a little butter and coconut cream, and some ginger syrup (also made that and had it in the fridge with candied ginger) and roasted them. I would NOT have taken that step if the oven hadn’t already been on for the crackers and the radishes (and, later, the bread), but I figured I’d give it a shot. After they had roasted a bit, I cut them up very small and threw them in with the spices. I threw in the sliced turnips and about a cup (probably a little too much) of chicken stock from the freezer, but you could just as easily use vegetable stock or water.

So how did it come out? Unfortunately, it still tastes overwhelmingly of turnips–that sharp, brassy, brassica taste, the one that I love in broccoli and cauliflower and cabbage, and even in brussels sprouts, if they’re prepared well and not overcooked. I’ll end up eating them, because the only alternative is throwing them out, and I can’t bring myself to do that, but damn, I am tired of dealing with turnips. Yes, they’re very good for you; yes, I’ve managed to add enough stuff to them to complement the flavor a bit (and I’m hoping that improves as they sit in the fridge); but they’re still . . . turnips. I suppose I could have made more of a curry sauce–more coconut milk, for example–but that starts to increase the fat content rather dramatically. I’ll probably eat them with some brown rice or some bread, both of which break up the brassica taste a bit.

I also made some more braised cabbage and venison ring bologna last night, which I ate with some freshly made whole wheat bread, and it was just awesome. That recipe is such a keeper–and handy, as I got three more cabbages in my farm share box this week.

What else came out of the kitchen this weekend? More crackers! I made them with the KAF Harvest Grains again, and I like that version better than the version with sesame seeds, though I’ll probably try a half-and-half version at some point. And some whole wheat bread, except I replaced some of the flour in the soaker with barley flakes and cracked wheat, and I put a little spelt flour in the whole thing when I made the final dough. (We’ll talk about bread in more detail in some future post.) I made two smaller batards rather than one big boule, and I threw one in the freezer. The aforementioned radishes I sliced in the food processor and tossed with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and let them roast in the oven for, oh, 40 minutes or so? I’m not a radish fan, but I find that roasting them makes them a little less biting.

So, all in all, the curried turnips were . . . a success? Sort of? I mean, they’re still TURNIPS, and I couldn’t disguise that fact, but not every one of these projects is going to work as I hope. Which circles us back around to my original disquisition on peppers. On one hand, there are foods I simply wouldn’t buy–peppers are notable in that list–because I cannot eat them. When they show up in the farm share, I give them away, because there’s nothing I can do to them that will make me be able to eat them. There are other foods I wouldn’t buy on my own–and turnips are at the top of that damn list–but that will show up in the farm share over time. In the case of turnips, I can’t even “forget” about them in the fridge and then throw them out when they turn into a science project, because they last forever. (I also don’t like to do that, because it’s just wasteful.) In those cases, my project is to at least make them edible. They’re not likely to become a favorite food, but at least I’m not throwing them out. Obviously, if you don’t have a farm share you’re not going to run into this problem, but farm shares are becoming more popular, and they’re really awesome, so I doubt I’m the only person with an ingredient problem–and, more specifically, a turnip problem.

Now if I could just figure out what to do with all of the Asian greens (bok choy, tatsoi, tokyo bekana, etc.), because they’re all brassicas, too.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tammy
    Jan 21, 2013 @ 17:39:08

    I find the hakurei turnips very mild and easy to work with compared to the purple ones. Deborah Madison has a soup recipe that has been useful for toning down the turnips and I also found a creamed turnip dish from Mr. Neep.

    Reply

  2. yeschef
    Jan 21, 2013 @ 18:02:16

    Thank you! I’ll check them out.

    Reply

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