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The Great Oppression

So, have you ever felt oppressed by vegetables?

Don’t laugh (well, maybe just a chuckle then…).

A few years ago, I signed up for weekly deliveries of organic veg. Great idea. A selection of in-season fruit and veg delivered to the door, locally sourced where possible. Fresh, good quality kitchen materials always on hand. What’s not to love about that?

So, week-in-week-out, the veg arrived on cue and I lunched and dined on the spoils and even made the occasional jar of pickle. Happy days. Sometimes, though, I would struggle to get through my weekly vegetable quota and, if I forgot to cancel subsequent deliveries in time, a certain degree of vegetable stock-piling would ensue. I would always attempt to work through the little vegetable mountain as best I could, given my deep-seated abhorrence of food waste. There were times, though, when it would get the better of me and I would soon start to feel oppressed by its continued presence. The ringleaders of this vegetable-led oppression were cabbage and his buddy turnip.

Turnip and Cabbage

The Chief Oppressors

It’s not that I disliked either of these vegetables but, frankly, I found them a bit of a challenge. Fact was that they often managed to defeat me by virtue of sheer volume. I mean to say, a bloody great big head of red or white cabbage with only one or two of us to do the eating could mean cabbage for several days in a row. Not only that, but who was to say that another cabbage wouldn’t turn up on the doorstep again next week? My cabbage repertoire wasn’t all that extensive and there were only so many days in the week where you’d want mashed turnip. So it was that I began to greet the arrival of the weekly delivery with some trepidation because these two would, at times, feature quite a lot. Being local ‘n’ all.

Now, during this time, I did try to find new ways of dealing with my chief adversaries (like the happy discovery of cabbage stir-fried with caraway seeds and a surprisingly good dish combining turnip with yoghurt, tomato and cumin) but, in the end, I had to admit that I couldn’t keep up with the constant challenge. I scaled back my deliveries to once every two weeks and we have now achieved a nice little equilibrium, my organic vegetables and me.

I was reminded of all of this during the week when family events kept me away from the house for several days longer than planned. Having been gone for the best part of a week, I returned to find a veg delivery that had been languishing unattended by the door for days, to be added to the fairly plentiful stocks already lying unused indoors. Not only that, but local duo cabbage and turnip put in a joint appearance, lending weight to the chorus of veggies murmuring “you really should use me up, y’know”. However, I will be neither oppressed nor defeated this time. I will look to the suggestions from Carmel Somers of The Good Things Café in West Cork on how to spice up these two lowly Irish staples, as heard recently on Newstalk radio’s Foodtalk series. She suggests, among other things, cabbage with juniper and garlic and turnip matched with ginger in either soup, roasted or stewed form. So I reckon I’ll be tackling my excess with the aid of whatever I think my spice cupboard can throw at it, that way I can have my seasonal vegetables and eat them.

21 Comments

  1. The Duo Dishes

    Mashed potatoes and turnips with fried cabbage strips?
    Twice baked potatoes stuffed with turnips and cabbage?
    Turnip custard?
    Potato and turnip gratin?
    Potato, turnip and cabbage soup?
    Spicy roasted turnips, potatoes and cabbage?

    We don’t cook much with either, so whatever you whip up will be interesting!

  2. Natasha - 5 Star Foodie

    I don’t really use turnips much but love cabbage. I was able to re-create my grandmother’s signature recipe for stewed cabbage which I will share someday on my blog. I use for various russian pastry fillings.

  3. Tangled Noodle

    I’ve hesitated to sign up for CSA’s (community-supported agriculture) because I fear that I will fall short of total veggie devotion. Nothing worse than being held hostage by cabbage and turnip, neither of which my tastebuds are terribly in love with. Fight the power, Spud!

  4. SippitySup

    I say jump in with both feet. Try something crazy and new. What will you lose? You have too many veggies and you gotta eat. There you go. GREG

  5. Navita

    theres a good thing about cabbage…cabbage soup makes u lose weight…and its self tested! aren’t u happy!

  6. Daily Spud

    Duo Dishes: lots for me to chew on there!

    Natasha: I’ll certainly keep an eye out for your grandmother’s stewed cabbage recipe

    Tangled Noodle: Never fear, I’m going to square up to those two!

    Greg: yessir, nothing to lose at all!

    Navita: aha, good point…

  7. Marc @ NoRecipes

    Call me crazy, but I sometimes just shred and eat raw cabbage as a salad with a light vinaigrette. A good way to go through a lot of cabbage is to just caramelize it with some salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar. I could eat bowls of it with some bratwurst. Also great to use in potstickers or cabbage rolls.

  8. Berna

    Coincidence or what? I had turnips for dinner this evening and made a mental note to ask Spud to mention them at some stage. Lo and behold, I log on…et voila…turnips are the topic. Turnips are underrated. Steamed until tender, then mashed…with oodles of cream added and a little bit of nutmeg. We had them with roast, stuffed pork fillet. I recommend.

  9. zerrin

    Cabbage, another delicious and healthy veg. Generally I make its salad. How? In fact, I’m planning to give the recipe in my blog, but I thin I can mention it here. So simple… Boil the cabbage until tender. chop it into big pieces. Add 1/2 lemon juice, salt and red pepper flakes and little olive oil. It’s one of my favorites.

  10. gastroanthropologist

    Oh Daily Spud I feel your oppression! The Duo Dishes suggestion of turnip custard is quite intriguing…

    When its too much I usually break down the veggies and freeze them. Not ideal but great in soups when we’ll be oppressed by other things when the seasons change!

  11. Lori

    I want to get a service like this when we move back to the States, but I fear the same thing. First, we travel so much that it might get complicated. Second, am I creative enough? The cabbage I can handle. I’ve got coleslaw recipes galore. :) The turnips, however, aren’t my cup of tea.

  12. Jenni

    I see another American, Lori, mentioned cole slaw. If you haven’t had this, there are about a kajillion recipes for it. It usually involved shredded or finely chopped cabbage w/anything from a mayonnaise to a vinegar-type dressing. Very good on the very Southern US pulled pork sandwich:)

    My first thought was egg rolls. Egg rolls are the only way I really like cabbage, I am a bit ashamed to say. You could also make your own fresh sauerkraut. That stuff keeps forever in healthful, fermented glory. There are some good sites out there that teach you how to make your own without inviting any deadly bacteria to dinner. If you’re feeling intrepid, that might be a good road to go.

    As for turnips, I am not a fan. I cannot help you with the turnip issue. Whatever you choose to do with your veggies, I know that you will prevail!

  13. megan (brooklyn farmhouse)

    I LOVE cabbage and really love cabbage and caraway together – yum yum. I’ve got a bunch of turnips in my fridge right now and I was thinking about doing a creamy turnip soup with bacon or crispy turnip and onion pancakes, maybe with bacon too. :)

  14. Daily Spud

    Marc: caramelised cabbage with balsamic, I like the sound of that :)

    Berna: I think perhaps turnips need a makeover, lets start with the cream and nutmeg, shall we

    gastroanthropologist: thanks goodness for freezers, eh?

    zerrin: thanks so much for the recipe!

    Lori: I guess it’s one of the challenges of trying to eat local and seasonal

    Jenni: oh, we’re familar with coleslaw over here, but it’s usually drowned in mayonnaise (course I could do a not-so-drowned homemade version); glad you mentioned sauerkraut, never tried to make it but I have been meaning to, maybe even some version of kimchi too…

    Megan: Welcome! Crispy turnip and onion pancakes? Now that sounds intriguing…

  15. nil zed

    For the cabbage: slice really slivery thin shreds. Cut onion similarly. Saute black cumin seeds in oil, then turmeric, then onion & cabbage. cook til you think it’s done. Add in some finely shredded unsweetened coconut (Or rinse the sugared kind a bit if thats all you can get), stir it all up well and serve.

    My husband learned this from a (oh gosh I forget, not Indian, not Pakistan, but there-ish) housemate in college. Now, even his Mum from Braemar makes it.

    As for the turnips, I got nothing.

  16. Daily Spud

    Hi Nil Zed, thanks for stopping by. I really like the sound of that cabbage. I have, in times past, made Indian-style cabbage stir-fry recipes involving cocount, which I have to admit, wasn’t a combination that immediately sprang to mind, but which was really good. I will definitely give this one a shot, thanks!

  17. deirdre

    If anyone you know has an awful cough I have a good recipe for cough mixture using turnips

  18. Maggie

    Turnips I have only a few uses for but cabbage I could probably eat every day for a month. Cabbage and noodles, spicy cabbage soup, mushroom and cabbage soup, cabbage and sausage, cabbage bread, cabbage rolls… My mother’s family is Slovak and cabbage is a whole food group to them.

  19. Daily Spud

    deirdre: cough mixture using turnips? do tell, I’m intrigued…

    Maggie: I guess there are indeed many ways with cabbage, though I think I can safely say I’ve never had cabbage bread!

  20. Caroline@Bibliocook

    That cough mixture sounds like a kill or cure concoction! I still haven’t tried Carmel’s recommendations from Foodtalk but I did land some turnip into a Lamb Shank and Root Vegetable Stew recently – my first time cooking with them! – and it turned out really well. That recipe is here.

  21. Daily Spud

    Thanks for the link Caroline – had spotted your post already. I think I still approach turnip in stews with caution. My sister reminded me lately that turnip was something we avoided putting into my Dad’s stews at home years ago because its flavour would tend to dominate and it also didn’t hold up well on second-day reheats. Still more work to be done on turnip I feel… :)

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