Tag Archives: vegetables

Another Way to Cook Turnips

Yukon potatoes and purple turnip

When I got inundated with turnips from my winter produce CSA last week (after trading my beets for more turnips), I started thinking of how to get creative with recipes. The first attempt was Bill’s spontaneous root vegetable melange. The next attempt was something you may have had with Thanksgiving dinner: mashed potatoes and turnip puree.

I had one very large purple turnip and only two Yukon potatoes. Ideally, I would have added a couple more potatoes, but it still turned out pretty tasty. All I did was peel and dice both vegetables, making them uniform size. Then I put them in a big pot of water and cooked the vegetables until tender (about 15-20 minutes). This also turned into a science lesson: I learned that turnips are less dense than potatoes and float to the top!

Boiling diced turnips and potatoes

When they were done I simply mashed them and added a little buttermilk leftover from making butter, along with salt and pepper.

Mashed potatoes and turnips with buttermilk

It was a delicious side dish to accompany roast chicken with gravy and oven-roasted carrots.

Roast chicken with carrots, mashed potatoes and turnip puree, and gravy

One Way to Cook Turnips

Diced turnips with sliced carrots and chopped leeks

Remember all the turnips Bill and I got in our CSA share this week? Here’s the first dish we used them in. Bill cooked last night and created a melange of sliced carrots and diced turnips, plus last fall’s chopped leeks from our freezer—all sautéed in olive oil with salt and pepper. Simple and delicious. I like how the leeks balance with the flavor of the turnips.

My Winter CSA: Lakeshore Family Farm

Half share of produce from Lakeshore Family Farm

For a few years now, Bill and I have been getting greens from a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), Mud Lake Farm. I love having fresh greens in the dead of winter, grown in the farm’s greenhouse. But this is the first time we’ve tried a more traditional CSA program–the kind where you sign up and pay for a share or half-share of produce and get a “grab bag” of vegetables for the  week.

One reason we haven’t tried it before is because just two of us live in our household. Even a half share seemed like a lot. Another reason is because I stock up on produce at the Holland Farmers Market straight through December, squirreling away squash and onions and carrots and apples in the fridge or coolers in the garage. We also have a variety of frozen veggies and berries in our freezer from last summer. The third reason is because, frankly, I wanted more control over what veggies I got. (I really hate beets.)

But I kept seeing Lakeshore Family Farm’s posts on Facebook about what was in the CSA share for the week and, even with beets as a potential vegetable, we decided to try it out. I think the clincher was the “trade table.” I’ll explain.

If you haven’t participated in a CSA program before, here’s how it works with Lakeshore Family Farm: You sign up and pay in advance for an eight-week program. For their Winter CSA Program (half-share of produce) it’s $120. That comes out to $15 per week for fresh, local veggies. And all I have to do is drive across town to pick them up at a community location on my pick-up day (Wednesday).

Today was the first day, and what did I find in my share? Beets. Why aren’t there any in the photo? Because there was a bag of turnips on the trade table and you’re allowed to swap one item. I gladly left my bag of beets and took someone else’s turnips. Check out the photo above to see everything we got: apples, onions, celery root, acorn squash, turnips, sweet potatoes, more turnips, and carrots. (Can you buy all that for $15 or less at the grocery store?)


Yes, we have a lot of turnips. So watch my blog to see what we do with them. But, really, isn’t this the way we’re supposed to be eating anyway, in season? It’s like strawberries: When they’re ripe in Michigan I eat them almost everyday. Their season lasts about a month, and then I don’t eat them anymore except for what’s stored in our freezer. But it’s better than consuming produce from thousands of miles away. And what I like about Lakeshore Family Farm is they post produce recipes on their website so you can get inspiration for what to do with all those turnips (or beets!).

It’s Winter, and It’s Farmers Market Season!

Graphic via Grist.org

Graphic via Grist.org

Great news for locavores and anyone else who is trying to buy more fresh, local produce where you live: The number of winter farmers markets–those operating at least once between November and March–has risen by 52% this year!

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the number has increased from 1,225 in 2011 to 1,864 in 2012.

Graphic via Grist.org

Graphic via Grist.org

The graphic shows California, New York, and Florida topping the list, but here are the 2012 top 10 states for winter farmers markets:

1. California with 284

2. New York with 196

3. Florida with 105

4. Maryland with 70

5. Texas with 63

6. North Carolina with 62

7. Massachusetts with 59

8. Pennsylvania with 58

9. Georgia with 55

10. Virginia with 53

It’s great to see a few states in the snowy North making the list!

Flageolet Beans: A Little Bit of French in West Michigan

Flageolet Beans from Shady Side Farm

Flageolet beans are often cited as “the caviar of beans.” One of my favorite recipes for Lamb Shoulder from Chocolate & Zucchini calls for this pretty, pale green, kidney-shaped legume and, since I’d never seen them in West Michigan grocery stores, I have always substituted white canellini beans. Until I spotted them on the shopping list at West Michigan Co-op.

Flageolet Beans from Shady Side FarmTurns out, there’s a farm in Holland, Michigan, called Shady Side Farm that grows flageolet beans, in addition to a variety of heirloom beans. (Up until a year or two ago, I didn’t even know Michigan is one of the top producers of dry beans!) It was nice to see that Shady Side Farm had recently set up a booth at the Kerstmarkt, a Dutch-style open-air holiday market in Holland, Michigan.

I was so excited to make the lamb shoulder recipe again–this time with the flageolet beans. The recipe is easy but it does require planning ahead, as do most recipes that use dry beans, because they need to soak in twice their volume of water overnight.

Flageolet Beans soaking in water

In the morning, rinse and drain the beans. For about a half pound, I sliced one large onion and sautéed it with the beans in olive oil, cooking for 15 minutes, stirring regularly, until the onions were soft.

Sliced onions in olive oil

Flageolet Bean Recipe

Then you pour in cold chicken stock (or cold water plus one bouillon cube) to cover the beans, bring them to a simmer, and cook for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the beans are tender but still holding their shape.

Flageolet Bean Recipe

Season with salt 30 minutes into the cooking, and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper just before serving.

Flageolet Bean Recipe

Pork and Bok Choy Stir-Fry

Pork and Bok Choy Stir-Fry recipe

Every two weeks Bill and I get lettuce greens from our local CSA—all year ’round. Usually the day before delivery our farmer emails our CSA group about any extra produce she has, and we often take her up on it. When bok choy was on the list recently, I knew I had to make a stir-fry. We used the entire head in one meal, and it was so tasty—especially knowing it was freshly grown and harvested about ten miles from where we live.

Local, organic bok choy

To make this recipe, I browned a half pound of ground pork in a wok. (I also put some white rice on the stove to cook so it would be ready when the stir-fry was done.)

Browning ground pork

I removed the meat, then threw some sliced garlic and a 1/2-inch slice of fresh ginger (peeled) into the wok with safflower oil on medium-high heat until fragrant.

Garlic and ginger in oil

Meanwhile, I chopped a bunch of green onions and the bok choy so they were ready to throw in, separating the thicker pieces from the stem of the bok choy.

Sliced green onions

Chopped bok choy

I removed the garlic and ginger and added a pinch of red pepper seeds, then quickly sautéed the bok choy stem pieces for a minute or two.

Green onions

Then I added the green onions and the leafy parts of the bok choy, stir-frying for another minute. I added about a 1/2 cup of chicken stock mixed with a 1/2 teaspoon of arrowroot to thicken it. (Arrowroot is a good substitute for cornstarch if you’re allergic to corn.)

Green onions and bok choy

At the end, I mixed in the pork, then served it over rice. Filling, delicious, and healthy.

Pork and Bok Choy Stir-Fry recipe

For a vegetarian option, omit the pork and add cashews or peanuts at the end and substitute vegetable broth or water for the chicken stock.

Truly Local: Sara Hardy Farmers Market in Traverse City

The Sara Hardy Farmers Market in downtown Traverse City, Michigan, was hopping on a beautiful fall Saturday, the last of September. Also known as the Cherry Capital, Traverse City is the largest city in Northern Lower Michigan and home of the National Cherry Festival. The farmers market is located in a central spot, as Bill is pointing out on the map.

Although the cherries are long gone by September, there’s still plenty of local produce to enjoy in the fall in Michigan. I love seeing how many people come out to support the area’s farmers.

Usually when I visit Northern Lower Michigan I spend my time in the Leelanau Peninsula so I tend to visit the Leelanau County farmers markets. This is the first time I actually stayed in Traverse City. And what a fun weekend it was. The fall produce was amazing….everything from potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and apples to honey, leeks, kale, and pumpkins.

Once you’ve got your produce, it’s a short drive to a number of wineries in the region, such as Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery. Fall is a great time to visit Northern Lower Michigan!