Things are starting to run out. The last of the fingerlings from Cape Cod Organics. The green cabbage, then the red. The sweet potatoes, which rotted, and the cranberries from the last farmer's market. All that's left is the garlic from the garden, Tim's butternuts, and the turnips.
I pulled them this morning from beneath their blanket of salt hay and greens. A few leaves had wilted with the snow, but the rest stood steady, tall. I planted late, only one short row, and not every plant threw a bulb. But some did, enough to make a meal. I rinsed the dirt from the roots, trimmed the greens for a sauté. We took a turkey out of the freezer last night, and this morning I made cranberry sauce with the last of the berries and a friend's honey. I baked fresh bread, New England spelt and oats. I chopped up the last green cabbage, an onion, and arranged them in a casserole dish on the stove. I scrubbed the turnips, chopped the bulbs. I took out a quart of chicken stock from the freezer to thaw.
The house it quiet now, and it's all sitting ready on the stove. Sally's asleep. I'm in the office: logging receipts, planning a talk, editing the audio for this week's show. Later I'll fire on the oven, when the sun starts to get low. I'll crank on the gas beneath the burners of the stove. We'll have creamed cabbage, turkey with cranberry sauce, and braised turnips, just plucked from their row.
I always turn to the Joy of Cooking when I want to cook a vegetable simply and know that it will turn out well. This recipe comes from page 434 of the 1997 edition. It's particularly good this time of year when the weather is chilly, and it goes handsomely with a good roast.
1 and 1/2 pounds white turnips, scrubbed and diced
1 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoons butter
sea salt to taste
pepper to taste
Put the turnips in a large, heavy-bottomed pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes. Drain the turnips and set aside. Meanwhile, return the pot to the stove and turn the heat on to high. Add the chicken stock, butter, salt, and pepper. Stir until the butter is melted, then add the turnips. Turn the heat down to low, cover, and simmer until the turnips are tender—about 15 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the turnips to a serving dish. Then turn the heat back up to high and boil the cooking liquid until it reduces to a thin, syrupy glaze. Pour it over the turnips and serve piping hot.