Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Pictured above are the last remnants of 2009's CSA. If I wasn't so grateful to have vegetables on hand without having to go to the store, I'd be a little ashamed by how long these patient souls waited to be cooked.

I love turnips and as I grow older, I only love them more. They're like potatoes that want to be cabbages, and my only criticism would be that they should learn how to appreciate their difference rather than hiding in the shadows of the root cellar. Did you know that turnips are used in sauerkraut, back in the old country? I have a recipe somewhere, but of course it calls for 5 pounds, which is 4 1/2 more than I ever have on hand. My usual preparation for turnips is glazed--sauteed lightly with butter, then doused in some stock with pinch of sugar. Heat and time take care of the rest.

Cabbage doesn't suffer the same maligning of turnips, but nobody is going to nominate it for sexiest vegetable of 2009. Though it's stalwart for so many cultures, cabbage always seems in need of a makeover. What I love most about it is its versatility. It can be crisp and crunchy in a slaw. Or silky and unctuous in a braise, or vibrantly pickled, or subtly sweet and earthy, stuffed or turned to stuffing. It does it all, and takes one for the team holding the bag, as it were when it comes to gaseous notoriety.

So, what are two vegetables I love and whose honor I will defend doing languishing in the crisper a month and a half after they first came home with me? Good question. I'm not sure. My winter cooking has barely begun. It seems like one second I was trying to finish off the rest of the zucchini and then the next I was pulling together my Thanksgiving menu, and turnips and cabbage did not make it into the equation. Until this week, when sick, and poor, I turned to the rejects left in the vegetable crisper and asked them to come to the front of the class.

Well, it was only soup. With black lentils, pancetta and turkey stock, but the turnips and cabbage made front billing.

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