Savoring the Seasons: Rockin' rutabagas
By MARY MCCLINTOCK
No, the title of this column is not the name of a local rock band. It’s the topic of a fun conversation I had with my Conway neighbors Don Walker and Ruth Parnall at the Greenfield Winter Farmers Market on March 1.
Standing next to the displays of root vegetables, Don said, “You know, I’m a member of the Valley Rock Choir and I have a new mission, to introduce my fellow choir members to rutabagas! We have potluck dinners and I am going to bring rutabagas to each potluck. So far, I’ve brought simple mashed and cubed rutabaga dishes, but I’m going to start taking more elaborate dishes.”
I laughed and said that sounded like a great mission. And, I asked how the other rockers enjoyed the rutabagas. Don said, “Well, they didn’t comment much, but they ate them all.”
Now, if anyone else had told me they had a new rutabaga mission, I might have been surprised. But I wrote about Don and Ruth’s love of rutabagas in 2007 soon after I started writing this column. I knew that in Ruth and Don’s family, rutabagas are called Ruthabagas because Ruth loves them so much.
Back in 2007, Don told me that he grew up with rutabagas as a standard holiday dish. Part of the family liked them cubed and boiled, others wanted theirs mashed. So the holiday spread always includes two dishes of rutabagas. Don said he also likes to cook them like hash browns to eat with his breakfast eggs. Ruth likes them as “fries” or braised with thyme (see recipes below).
Ruth and Don said that rutabagas are so versatile they’re considering having a party with a whole meal with rutabagas in every course. They have recipes for rutabaga appetizers, side dishes, and entrees. They have yet to make a rutabaga pie (similar to a pumpkin pie) for a dessert recipe, but Don said they were going to try it.
Perhaps after helping his fellow choir members to enjoy rutabagas, Don and Ruth can host a rutabaga and rock party! Or better yet, perhaps someone can compose a rock song about rutabagas!
For information about the Valley Rock Choir, visit http://valleychoirs.com.
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Maple Day, Saturday, March 22, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Hager’s Farm Market, Route 2, Shelburne.
Old-fashioned boiling demonstrations as well as maple cream and candy making demonstrations. Maple treats will be available, including maple bacon cupcakes, maple candy, and maple cream. Start the day with homemade pancakes, waffles or french toast with Hager’s own pure maple syrup. Maple soft serve ice cream and fried dough with maple cream will be available. For information, visit www.hagersfarmmarket.net.
This week we’re eating…
By Ruth Parnall, Conway
Ruth’s favorite recipe is one she read in an article about someone teaching cooking and nutrition to school kids. The students really liked roasted rutabaga “fries.” Ruth’s recipe is really simple: Cut rutabagas into “french fry” strips, roll them in olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast them, turning once or twice, in 400 degree oven for about a half hour.
Ruth also fixes:
Serves 4 to 6
1 1/2 pounds rutabagas
2 T. butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tsp. chopped thyme leaves
1 C. chicken stock or water (more, if needed)
1 T. minced parsley
Peel the rutabagas. Slice into rounds about 1/4 inch thick, then into matchsticks. Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Add rutabagas, 1/2 tsp. salt, and half the thyme. When warmed, add stock or water and bring to a boil. Cover, simmer until liquid has evaporated and rutabagas are tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Add more liquid during cooking, if necessary. Uncover and continue cooking until vegetables are browned in places. Taste for salt, season with pepper and toss with the reserved thyme and parsley.