It is the time of turnips, which we are now harvesting by the basketful. I must confess that the bulk of the greens are being offered to the goats.

I’m sure those greens will add a subtle flavor to the cheese made from their milk. That’s the great thing about cheese making. Pasture, feed and fodder all uniquely add their touch to the cheese.

Instead of living in a homogenized world of mass production, the idiosyncrasies of small or craft farming provides flavors and pleasures that are from your place on the Earth and in some ways like no other.

That reminds me:

When a man who “Turnips” cries,

Cries not when his father dies,

‘tis a sign that he would rather

Have a turnip than a father.

That’s one of the early bits of wisdom my wife, Maggie, gave me when we first met — a little poem her father taught her.

Sound like a match made in heaven, ah?

I’ve always been fond of turnips in a culinary sense. So it was nice to know that my future would be spent with someone who took the effort to retain a rhyme, no matter how nonsensical, about them.

No matter how much I like turnips, there is one thing I should have remembered this week. That is, I have not eaten turnips at least since last winter.

On Wednesday evening, I chopped up several big, just harvested turnips, along with a few carrots (some red, some orange, and some yellow) and threw them in a pot of boiling water with some salt added.

Later I drained and mashed them with good butter, or perhaps Maggie did, and I ate a huge portion of them with the chicken I had just barbecued, and a bit of pan-fried onion, just harvested.

That was our supper. Delicious.

The only problem was that at 3 in the morning my intestines awoke me to tell me they were relearning the art of digesting turnip.

I stayed up through the rest of the night being informed of the many steps involved. I didn’t know what those steps were, but, I knew the process was proceeding.

Only as the dawn’s rosy fingers appeared over the horizon did I fall back asleep, which was a great relief to the dog since she felt free to go out for her morning trek with Maggie.

Still, this Thursday morning, I hear rumbling from my innards, but I no longer felt the process.

This indicates to me, that my stomach has figured everything out, and I may resume eating large quantities of mashed turnips and carrot, a staple of the fall season.

It is a staple, unless you are like some who will spare no turnip in their pursuit of that alchemy know as turnip wine.

This was an art still practiced in my youth, at least by old codgers in the Isles, who kept barrels of the stuff in their garden shed. They shared and compared it with the product of their fellow old codgers during long hobnobs.

I hope that’s still a thing, but I don’t know. Most of those old codgers are gone now.

They thought their wives didn’t know what they were up to in those gardens filled with turnips and rutabagas.

Oh, those wives, they don’t let on. It kept the old fellows out of their hair, anyway. Besides they would gather the few turnips needed for the kitchen while the old fellows were busy in the shed.

Forrest Hartley lives in Hadley. You can leave him a message at new_americangothic@yahoo.com.


Load comments