Thursday, November 21, 2013

Terrific Turnips!

Turnips are a terrific vegetable to grow locally in the winter.

Okay, really, have you ever heard anyone describe the turnip as "terrific"?  This root vegetable is probably something more of a staple that does well in the ground throughout the winter.  It's ability to provide nourishment when other tastier veggies are absent from the local diet made me interested in tasting it for the first time.  A friend has turnips, and was kind enough to share some with our family.  What to do with them?  For some reason, turnip soup sounded tasty, so I made this recipe.  It was simple, local, and with a grilled cheese made a nice Saturday lunch.

Now, what else to do?  Chris decided to pull out his mandolin to slice up some paper thin turnip pieces.  He then stuck them in the oven at 200 degrees...wallah, turnip chips.    They actually got a little too brown, but they were pretty tasty half way through baking. 

Since then we've had roasted turnip and carrots two nights this week.  While they're not a vegetable I'd run to the grocery store to buy (does the grocery store even sell them?!), I do think they are tasty enough to eat throughout the winter season and there are plenty of recipes to try.  Next, turnip mash...something like mashed potatoes, only using turnips.  New culinary experiences here we come! 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Yeah, it's local...but I just ate WHAT?!

This too is local...

One morning I visited my Mom and Cousin Paige at my grandfather's farm.  Browned cow heart sat in a pan on the stove.  "It tastes just like roast beef," my younger nature-loving cousin said.  Well, I'll take your word for it.  Mom and Paige have been the caregivers for my 97 year old grandfather.  One night in the dark, while he was in the hospital, my Mom went into his room and fell over an extra wheel chair, hitting the side of her face on the way down.  The result:  two black eyes.

I love that Chris and I moved closer to my family because we share dinner together on Tuesday night, taking turns cooking.  The week after watching Paige and my Mom devour the heart, it was their turn to cook the family meal.  Needless to say, I'm cautious when we dine with them.  My Mom made lasagna and Paige prepared a roast beef in the crock pot.  I felt immediately suspicious, "no, really, it's roast beef," Mom insisted.

I cautiously put some on my plate after watching Dad have a second helping and Chris encouraging, "it's really good Paula." Here's my eating experience:  As I eyed the food sitting on my plate, my mind said, "Okay, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, it's roast beef."  Fork-full goes in and as I bite down I think, "this isn't a meat I'm familiar with, I need to spit this out,"  then I thought, "nah, it's just my mind not trusting them and making the tasting experience strange," so I swallowed and immediately dumped the rest on Chris's plate.  I was certain there was a bit of game taste, and I wasn't going back for more.

Later that evening, after dishes were cleared and dessert enjoyed, we again discussed the roast beef with comments of kudos from my Dad and Chris.  My Mom said, "Okay, do you want me to tell you what it was?"  Aha, I knew it wasn't roast beef.  "What, what was it, what?"  "Look at me," she responded.

Coon!  You're kidding, you fed us coon?!  Yep, Paige trapped a raccoon and decided she wanted to serve it up.  According to Paige, you should only eat wild animals after a freeze, which we'd recently had.  So there we were, dining on coon.  She was happy to take us out then to show us the carcass and the fur.  Now, how's that for local flavor?  Anyone want me to add a "coon" section to the Local Producers List?!