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The pear is a candle, btw

Crazy Farm Box is intent on making me like turnips. Or at least choke those boogers down. In a previous entry I talked a lot about sex and mentioned my conundrum with turnips, so we all then talked a LOT about just only turnips in the comments, which is why I love us. GO, TEAM SUBLIMATE!

I asked you for something to do with Turnips that makes them edible and yet doesn’t involve heavy cream or a stick of butter. I learned from Paula Dean that a good stick of butter will make any vegetable taste good. (Except radishes, which are really only good for puking up in fields right before taking blood oaths that, as God is your witness, you will never ingest radishes again.) Fran said HIDE THEM IN STEW, which seems wise. They might come across as potato bits, if one cubed them small enough.

Brilliant married-to-each-other writers and known foodies Susan Rebecca White and Alan Deutschman had another idea. Let me tell you about them and food. I was stuck in Atlanta one late afternoon, when the drive home would have taken me a good two hours. Susan said to come to her house for a casual, thrown together kind of supper instead, thus giving traffic time to die down.

Their idea of a casual, thrown together little meal? She pulled lettuce from her garden and tossed it with apples and roasted nuts and shaved cheese and a vinaigrette she whipped together, along with a soup her husband began HOURS before, roasting squashes and sweet potatoes and then pureeing them in a Cuisinart with chicken stock and onions and spices. Add a crusty French bread with Brie instead of butter and an Oregon Pinot, and there you are. Then, before I could leave, Susan asked me a question. “Oh, I have these little half baked chocolate soufflés I keep in the freezer—-it will take ten minutes to bake them off. Do you have time?”

Reader? I married them.

Okay, maybe not that, but LORD. The soufflés puffed up in their little ramekins, all faintly crisp outsides and molten-fluff insides, with a crescent of Haagen-Dazs coffee ice cream melting into the middle of each. Nomnomnom.

Pls note my cunning olive oil juglet

SO when Susan and Alan said they knew what to do with Turnips, I listened. You know how Paula says a stick of butter fixes just about anything? S and A introduced me to Barbara Kafka, who in her book Roasting: A Simple Art applies her butter-free philosophy to turnips and a hundred other veggies and all manner of meats. Olive oil, kosher salt, and a 500 degree oven feature greatly…

Basically you slice 12 ounces of turnips into wedges, coat in 2 TBS olive oil, roast at 500 degrees for 15 minutes, then pour a mix of ½ cup honey, a TBS of hot water, and pinches of nutmeg, cinnamon and kosher salt, toss, and roast more, until they are soft in the middle and crispy-ish outside.

SO we tried it. I have now upgraded Turnips to Un-Repulsive. They were almost good, and I ate my whole share. Scott gave them a more enthusiastic thumbs up than I did, but he came to the table with a higher turnip-tolerance to begin with. He thinks we needed to let them roast a little longer in phase two, and I agree. We will do that next time—and believe me, there will be a next time. The Crazy Farm Box People had an ABUNDANT turnip crop, I hear.

Sam LOVED them. Ate all his with gusto and polished off his sister’s too. Maisy was told they were turnips (mistake) and even though I told her I put in “POUNDS of honey!!!!” she nibbled a molecule off of one wedge and made her patented puke face. It is a lip-curled, nostril-flared, panick-eyed face which I think would translate into words as, “You seem to have fed me on a vegetable.” So.

Your mileage may vary, but if you have turnips, Kafka has a Good Idea. I ordered the book and plan to roast more nasty things into edible submission.

10 comments to Returnipped

  • edj

    I ate lunch at an Indian buffet the other day and they had a ROCKING turnip curry. Naturally I thought of you. In case you get sick of roasted turnips (which sound really good to me, actually), maybe you should try cubing your turnips and cooking them long and slow in a curry sauce.

  • I love veggies but have still yet to try turnips. 2/3 of my kids make faces that sounds a lot like your Maisy’s and the only veggie hubby will eat is raw broccoli with dip. BUT, if I haven’t eaten a turnip, I’d bet the house that none of them have. Maybe we’ll give this a shot! (It cannot be any more traumatic than when I’ve attempted to serve/sneak brussels sprouts!)
    (Thanks for the pic!) 😉

  • Haley

    I only like radishes the French way, raw and sliced paper thin and put on top of a slice of generously-buttered and -salted baguette. When cooked in chunks or whole form, they have a weird texture. Actually they are just weird cooked, I think.

    Did Maisy always hate vegetables or was she conditioned to by friends or something? I find that some children do fine eating vegetables from babyhood and don’t detest them, but others hate them even as babies. I guess it just depends on the child. I too find roasting the most palatable way to eat vegetables, but I usually do it on a lower temperature, like 400 or so; I think roasting loses less nutrients than boiling, but I have no scientific evidence for that. I like my broccoli and cauliflower crispy, although others in my household tell my that I burn it.

  • clinewine

    Hi. I’m new to your blog. In fact I’m new to blogging period. I expected to find a discussion about Backseat Saints and I find turnips instead! So I apologize if I’m not following blog protocol but I have to say I just finished BS and not only loved it but have sworn an oath to only LISTEN to your books! Enjoyable as they are to read, they are doubly enjoyable when listened to. You’re the best.

  • Julie

    You were right about “almost good” with this recipe but I would say “almost edible”. The honey only made the underlying baked turnips seem more bitter. It was like honey with an aftertaste of death. I think they taste good in salad raw but baked Yuck!

  • Brigitte

    Ew, Haley, people COOK radishes? That’s never even occurred to me. And yes, they are quite lovely the french way (though the peasant-style, French-Canadian way is on buttered saltine crackers).

    My daughter makes Maisy’s face at basically every food except Cheetos. Though she used to like eating real food when she was two, I don’t know what happened.

    Mmmm, I lurve almost any veggie roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper. I never even thought of fancying them up any!

  • Clinewine — It is never bad protocol to tell a wrirter you enjoyed one of their books. Thank you!

    Oh Lordy Maisy always hated everything. And I did the same first foods intro thing with her that I did with Sam (WHO EATS EVERYTHING!), starting with organic unsweetened yogurt to try and give them a taste for sour things, introing veggies BEFORE fruits. Maisy made awful faces and pushed everything right back out with her tongue. Once she had rice cereal and pears that’s all she wanted to eat, world without end, amen.

    Julie — maybe it was your turnips? Maybe you had very bitter ones? Ours did not turn out bitter a tall….they came out almost…bland. Innocuous.

  • Michelle

    All I have to say is COOKED RADISHES? Good lord.

  • Aimee

    Cooked radishes?! No, that is just wrong. That is in the category of braised cucumbers from Julia Child. It is not correct.

    The roasted turnips sound delish. I love any kind of a roasted root vegetable.

  • Christine in Los Angeles

    Sweetie, if you hate them, why eat the bloody things? If they come in your farm box, just donate them to the local food kitchen. There’s so much good stuff out there, stuff you like, why waste time on the unliked?

    Breathlessly (!!!) awaiting the new book, so stop messing with the turnips, and git ‘er dun.

    God bless,