July 25, 2008

Turnip Town

Good Grief! How did we end up with 25,000 turnips?!! And recently there have been many other questions asked, like - why do have only one little old bell pepper plant, what kind of pepper plant is THAT, weren't we supposed to have Yukon Gold potatoes, what are those giant plants with cabbage looking leaves but no apparent fruit, how many kinds of cucumbers are planted out there, are there any yellow squash planted in there somewhere, what are those nice little plants next to the turnips????? I'm actually banned from asking DH these questions for the remainder of the summer because it's a little like rubbing salt into a wound at this point. He has a very nice map of what is supposed to be where, and at first his answer to my onslaught of questions was, "look at the map" or "we'll have to look at the map when we go back inside", or "the next time we go out we'll take the map with us". But, unfortunately even the map can't save us at this point. There are several mysteries out in that green oasis that just haven't been solved by looking at "THE MAP".

Now in his defense, DH worked really hard at planning the garden, indulging my every whim about what to grow, ordering seeds, starting seedlings, tilling, planting seeds, and putting out transplants. He got new garden toys at Christmas that helped with all of this work and he truly enjoyed it and was very successful in his efforts. He is no slouch. However, the one thing this Renaissance guy doesn't always excel in is the finer points of organization. I've told him that his nickname should be "Details Are Not Us". So somewhere along the line the tagging went astray and that coupled with the awful rains we had at the beginning of the planting season, which literally moved seeds and seedlings to new locations as well as wiping out some of them, you have the result - an ongoing game of twenty questions - and now he's tired of playing! What we've decided to do is institute the buddy system and utilize our paired talents so that maybe the garden will have some of these kinks worked out next year. DH made a gardening joke and said that we would do "companion planting" next year. If you get that joke you're as big a nerd as he is! But that's o.k. since we do love our nerds around here! Google "companion planting" if you're a really curious nerd!

The upside of having 25,000 turnips is that it's stretching our culinary brains and we're learning and experimenting a lot. I'm comfortable with using turnips in the traditional winter recipes like cooking them with a pot roast, or putting them in beef stew. But we decided to go beyond that and try making "mock" mashed potatoes, stir-frying them, and we even came up with what we think is a new relish for brats (we use lower fat turkey links). We grated a large turnip, added a sliced Vidalia onion, some shredded red cabbage and sauteed them for a while, then added a little apple cider vinegar, some honey, pepper and a little salt, and some caraway seeds. It was just fantastic.

Two more ideas we're going to try from The Joy of Gardening Cookbook are steaming the smallest turnips and dressing them with herb butter, and a recipe for turnip turnovers. It has bacon in it so it will automatically be good right?! A lot of our turnips are going to be stored according to the method in this same book. Janet Ballantyne says to store them in your refrigerator in perforated plastic, food-safe bags. This too will be experimental for us but we're interested in trying methods other than just canning or freezing from the garden. Ideally we'd have a root cellar but that may or may not happen for us in this house.

A departure from turnips - last night's dinner of stuffed zucchini - fabulous! This is a shot taken just before they went in the oven. I have an old, many-times-copied collection of recipes for zucchini from the Colorado State University Extension Dept., and the stuffed zucchini has remained a favorite of mine for about 25 years. Jeesh I'm feeling old! My vow this summer was to pick zucchini while still small and not let them get to prize winning size. The funny thing is that we only have one zucchini plant this year and it's not producing all that much zucchini - sounds like it's time to ask another one of those banned questions huh?!!

Well, this is all then.

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