“My kitchen garden should begin to produce vegetables soon, Susan said helpfully. “Enough to feed us, and maybe a bit extra we could sell or barter in the village.”
Jane started to squirm on Elizabeth’s lap. “Please tell me you didn’t plant more turnips. I hate turnips.”
“We all hate turnips,” Susan replied. “But they’re so easy to grow.”
“Not so easy to eat,” Lucas grumbled.
Like the Hotchkiss clan of Julia Quinn’s How to Marry a Marquis, I am suffering from a surfeit of turnips. Not because I am enduring a life of genteel poverty and must make do with my kitchen garden (if I did, I would be eating nothing but jalapeños, which are more delicious but also more conducive to heartburn), but because I keep getting them in my CSA.
Because I have read HTMAM approximately 3 dozen times (my review is here), the last time I unpacked these terrible tubers from my box, Lucas Hotchkiss and his wise pronouncement that turnips are not so easy to eat came immediately to mind.
Sometimes, life imitates smut, just not in the ways you expect.
Oh, he was definitely bamming her. He certainly hadn’t known her long enough to form an opinion on her intellect. Her eyes narrowed. He wanted to know about her pursuits, did he? Well, then, she’d tell him.
“What I really like to do,” she said with wide, bright eyes, “is work in my kitchen garden.”
“Your kitchen garden?” he choked.
“Oh, yes. Our primary crop this year is turnips. Lots of turnips. Do you like turnips?”
“Turnips?” he echoed.
She nodded emphatically. “Turnips. Some find them dull, rather bland, really, but a more fascinating tuber you’ll never find.”
James glanced right and left, looking for a means of escape. What the devil was this girl talking about?
“Have you ever grown turnips?”
“Ah…no, I haven’t.”
“That’s a pity,” she said with great feeling. “One can learn quite a lot about life from a turnip.”
James’s head fell a little forward in disbelief. This he had to hear. “Really? And what, pray tell, can one learn?”
He knew it. She was bamming him. What was she up to? He smiled innocently. “You were saying?”
“Diligence!” she blurted out. “One can learn a great deal about diligence.”
Obviously, Elizabeth is messing with James here (he deserves it, trust me). But she’s also right: you can learn a great deal about diligence from turnips.
Specifically, I have learned about diligence in trying to find a way to prepare them so my family actually eats them. This has been a challenging process, as my husband likes to state that the best place for turnips is straight into the compost bin. When it comes to turnips, he’s worse than our toddler.
But back to the diligence.
I tried roasting them. Yuck – they just got more bitter. And shriveled. I tried boiling them. Meh – they will never be a replacement for mashed potatoes. Obviously, I was going to have to up my game. I tried this recipe because throwing a bunch of ginger and coconut milk on turnips would DEFINITELY make them taste better; I was mostly wrong. The soup was barely edible. Luckily my brother was in town and he gamely slurped it down – after doctoring it so it was approximately 50% hot sauce. I thought about trying this mixed mash version, but chickened out.
Which brings me to today, digging through my cookbooks in search of something to do with the latest batch of turnips. I ask my husband, “Would you rather have Eastern European style turnip soup or Middle Eastern style turnip soup?” He responds, “How about either of those soups, but without the turnips.”
Diligence, I remind myself. Just think of the Hotchkiss family. We settle on a recipe for shchi (Russian style turnip soup, fyi) from Moosewood’s soup and salad book, because we also have a ton of cabbage in the fridge.
Wish me luck.