This photo was taken about three weeks ago, when the greens, even the hardy greens, had completely frozen. Before December even started, we had a string of days near zero, which makes for great ice skating but pretty much definitively ends eating from the garden.
I harvested the last crop, the parsnips. They take forever to grow, but I got them in much earlier this year and so managed to get some good specimens. They are sweet and go really well in roasted vegetables. Over Thanksgiving weekend I did get a little more kale, already browning on the edges from the freeze/thaw cycle, but that was the end of that.
I felt kind of bereft. No more greens. At all. I had to start buying vegetables again: Brussels sprouts and broccoli and Steve requested lettuce. We only got five butternut squash this year, so I’m doling them out for special occasions, which is crazy because in the past I’ve had to throw some away. They are not my favorite food. I’ve also been cubing up the pumpkin and other squash for roasting and stews.
And then there’s turnips. Oh, the problem of turnips. They grow so fast and are such lovely, perfectly-shaped globes with that tender purple at the rim. And they taste awful! They taint every pan of roasted vegetables. You can’t sneak them into anything. Among my friends, many of whom have CSA shares, everyone is asking what on earth to do with the turnips. If only beets grew as well as turnips! I did find one answer: smother them in butter, gruyere and cream and bake them in a gratin (see below). Not the most healthy recipe, but it takes care of the turnips and it’s delicious. I served it over some leftover turkey.
So we’re having chicken with tomatillo sauce. And I made two other “recipe” things that are canned: spicy Thai tomato soup, and red pepper sauce that goes straight on pasta like tomato sauce. Applesauce! Jam! salsa! Even pickles now and then. I remembered the dried and frozen tomatoes, which are amazing in my black bean soup. The jars of tomatoes can now be used!
I know summer is supposed to be the time of plenty, but this season has its own abundance. I just have to remember and recognize that it is time.
Adapted from Ree Drummond’s recipe: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2008/11/turnip-gratin/
4-6 turnips, peeled and sliced thinly
3 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
2 cups mixed grated gruyere and cheddar cheese
4 Tbs butter (or less)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Melt 2 Tbs of butter in the bottom of an ovenproof skillet. Put down a layer of turnip slices. Sprinkle with some of the garlic and dab with butter (optional). Splash with chicken broth and half-and-half. Top with 1/2 cup of the cheese. Put down another layer of turnip slices and repeat with the garlic, chicken broth and half-and-half. Sprinkle on some salt and pepper and top with 1/2 cup of the cheese. Put down the last layer and top as before, covering the top with an ample amount of cheese.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until turnip slices are soft and the whole thing is bubbling and browned on top.