Overlooked Winter Veggies: Rediscover the rutabaga

Image via muffintinmania.comOften mistaken for turnips and outshined by the season’s much sexier squash and cooking greens, the stalwart, purple-topped rutabaga—which is harvested from September through March— is easy to grow, easy to store and even easier to take for granted. No doubt you’ve seen it bobbing in Grandma’s beef stew and chopped with other root veggies in traditional pot roasts, but give it a chance and you’ll learn that this cabbage-turnip hybrid has much more to offer.

Known as Swedish turnips (or swedes) in their native Europe, rutabagas are round with smooth cream-colored skin on the bottom and purple on the top; and their butter-yellow flesh is sweeter and denser than their turnip cousins. Their low moisture content makes them ideal candidates for mashing and roasting, and is probably the reason they are most commonly used in soups, stews and braises. However, the crunchy raw flesh is also delicious in coleslaw and salads (like this Rutabaga Apple Salad, for instance).

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In the Underground: Root vegetables, the perfect crop for kids

sotry by Char Vandermeer When I was a little squirt, my folks always made sure I had a patch of garden all to myself. My specialties were radishes and carrots, but I also have happy memories harvesting potatoes with my dad. What fun it was rooting underneath those big, leafy green plants, looking for hidden treasure—tiny red-skinned new potatoes. Like an Easter egg hunt, but dirtier and less chocolaty. And so much more rewarding than weeding the monster garden my folks planted.
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Food: Winter Greens

In the summer, eating local is easy. Farmers’ markets abound, featuring mounds of beautiful, colorful produce. In the winter, there are potatoes, sweet potatoes, and a rotating cast of root vegetables that require a bit more work than the kiss of the grill and a splash of olive oil. Fortunately, there are a few green things hardy enough for the long slog through winter—kale, collard greens, chard and spinach among them. These winter staples are essential for providing that I’ve-eaten-my-vegetables satisfaction, and are some of the healthiest things around.

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Eat Local: Oley Valley Mushrooms

Joe Evans was a carpenter by trade until his back went out. With some time off, he and his wife Angela, who shared a love of hunting for wild mushrooms, decided to try growing them. The venture was so successful that Joe quit his job and put his carpentry skills to use building customized, fabric-covered grow rooms.
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