Monthly Archives: November 2012

Rutabagas, The Perfect Fall Vegetable

Rutabagas?  Who eats those weird vegetables?  Our grandparents did surely.  If you have a relative that lived through World War II, they often will talk about the shortage of food and the victory gardens that were started to help feed people in cities across America and the rutabaga was one vegetable grown because it kept well.  The Rutabaga was a vegetable that families could rely on well through the winter to keep families fed.  Normally when we think of a favorite vegetable we think of something green, red or orange, but a white vegetable is also part of the rainbow of fruits and vegetables we should eat every day but when we are offered vegetables most of us will choose the colorful veggies.

The rutabaga is often overlooked as a tasteful food.

At farmers markets everywhere you will see a broad range of vegetables to choose from but rutabagas may be less popular because as cooks, we don’t know how to cook and serve them.

They are an inexpensive way to get your Vitamin C and potassium.  They are a great source of fiber, thiamin, vitamin B6 and calcium along with some other very good key nutrients.

Rutabagas will keep for months in a cool dry storage place.  They store well in plastic bags in a refrigerator or cold cellar.

As always, to protect yourself and family from a foodborne illness it is important to wash all fruits and vegetables before preparing your recipes.

You can use Rutabagas in soups or stews.  You can also bake, boil or steam them.  They can be mashed and served as a side dish or you could stir fry them or eat raw in salads.  The Rutabaga is a traditional ingredient in the classic Michigan pasty – along with potatoes, carrots, onion and beef.  Baking rutabagas with carrots and parsnips makes a great inexpensive fall vegetable dish.

Click Here for the food fact sheet on Rutabagas.

For more tips on buying and preparing this and other fruits and vegetables, check out the Michigan Fresh page of the MSU Extension website.  Visitors to the site have an opportunity to complete a survey that is collecting information on future uses of the information and other topics to be developed.

To make a simple Michigan Pasty –

Ingredients:  1# ground beef, 3-4 potatoes chopped small, 3-4 carrots, 1 small rutabaga chopped small, 1 onion diced, S&P to taste and pie pastry.  I do purchase pre-made pie crust which makes this so easy!  You can brown the ground beef with the onion, and even parboil the potatoes, rutabaga and carrots for a couple of minutes.  Take the pastry and roll it out a little bit – if it is in a circle, cut it in half (you can then make four from the two crusts).  You can either layer the meat and vegetables or mix them all together. Place the filling on one end of the crust, fold over the other half and crimp the edges together all the way around – you can do this with a fork and some egg white or a little water on the fork helps to seal the crust together.  You can even get  a little fancier and crimp and braid or whatever suits you!  Then bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes and until the crust is golden brown.  I do brush a little butter on the top.  Now to serve – you could make a gravy from beef broth or my family uses ketchup once we break the pasty open.  Its your call!  Enjoy!


Thanksgiving Feast with Local Food

Fall Vegetables

Local farm stands and farmers markets can help you make sure your Thanksgiving Feast supports local farmers.

The Thanksgiving feast is the perfect time to purchase local food for your dinner table. There are so many fresh vegetables, sguash, pumpkins, potatoes and turkey available locally – you won’t have any problem cooking up that traditional feast with farm fresh food.
Locally, you can find fresh turkeys from RC Organics near Richmond or Falker Family Farms near Romeo. But you need to call them right away to make sure they have enough turkeys on hand.
The Mt. Clemens Farmers Market and others are still open on Friday and Saturdays as is the Detroit Eastern Market, Armada on Sundays, and others you can check out on the Michigan Farm Market Association website to see if they are still open.
For the first time I am trying the blue Hubbard squash. The sheer size has scared me off from trying to cook the thing but then I read “how to” for these giant but flavorful squash. The secret is to dropping them onto your concrete driveway or patio to break them open rather than cutting yourself or losing a finger in the process. Once you have it smashed into smaller pieces, place the broken section after you have cleaned the seeds out onto an oiled baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes at 350-375 degrees. With the Hubbard, I don’t plan to do anything fancy other than baking and adding a little butter, salt and pepper and maybe some brown sugar after I have tasted it to see if it needs it. Not all squash needs to be served “sweet.”
Am I only eating squash for Thanksgiving dinner – no way – but I usually do the squash a couple of days ahead of time so I am not using up my oven space. You can then reheat it in the oven or use your microwave.
Let me go back a minute to the actual planning of the big event. I sit down a couple of weeks before the Holiday to plan out my menu – which can be really hard as I love so many of the traditional foods but just don’t need all of them at the table at the same time. When it comes time to choosing the dessert, I am in big trouble because I want to taste the traditional pumpkin pie, have my mom’s pumpkin roll with the cream cheese filling, have apple pie with a slice of sharp cheddar cheese, and I could go on and on. Then there is the stuffing, the vegetables, the potatoes, and what we will drink. So anyway, write down all of the foods you want to have – then start narrowing it down to a “realistic” menu.
Next, make your grocery list – and the reason to PLAN AHEAD is to take advantage of your local farmers market if it is still open. There is a strong possibility that your local grocery store may be purchasing squash and pumpkins from a local farmer. What a great time to plan a trip to Detroit Eastern Market also – as a day trip, or your first trip now is the time to go and see this historical market!
Next, I make decisions on when or what time I need to be cooking some of the foods. Again, I have real issues with the size of my oven, refrigerator and stove top. So I try to make a couple of things the weekend before like the cranberry relish, squash, pies and appetizers (if needed). This way you are spreading out the baking over several days. Oh and I almost forgot about the sweet potatoes! yum, my kids favorite!
The other thing I do contemplate, is whether I want to try a new recipe. Every couple of years I change up the stuffing – and Yes, I do stuff some stuffing into the bird, but I use a baking dish for more.
So look up the recipes you want to use, find your turkey if you want a fresh turkey and look for the farmers markets to purchase your brussels sprouts, squash, pumpkin, potatoes, onions, rutabagas, and kohlrabi. Yes, try a new vegetable!
Did I mention that also on my food bucket list is to make a pumpkin pie from scratch! So rather than wait until the weekend before, I am going to experiment this weekend with baking the pumpkin and seasoning it for that perfect pumpkin pie. Pictures to come!
What will you try this Thanksgiving? Where can you find local produce in November near your home?