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It Might Be A Megaturnip

I went vegetable picking this weekend, and as I wrestled a 10-pound, dirt-covered bulb out of the ground, I experienced a new kind of buyer’s remorse.  It was a feeling of dread–dread that I’d committed to purchase something that might not be a beet after all.  It might be a megaturnip, I thought.  Or a tree stump.  Or a boot!  I wanted very badly for it to be a boot.  I would march inside with the boot, I decided, and refuse to pay.  The farmer would apologize and give me some beets for free and maybe even throw in some fresh eggs.  I was thinking about how I’d cook the eggs (scrambled, with broccoli and cheese) when the earth gave way and I fell backward with the bulb finally, disgustingly, in my hands.

It was a rutabaga–or so I was told by a woman who came by in a tractor.  She said “It’s a rutabaga!” with lots of energy, as if she were a waitress at the beginning of her shift and I had asked about the soup of the day.  “Great!” I replied, but when she drove off I made a face and tried to cram it back into its hole.

It didn’t fit.  I thought about leaving it on the side of the vegetable patch, but that seemed like the morally bankrupt option, so I put it in my wheelbarrow and paid for it at the farmhouse.

When I got home, Scott took it to the back yard and cleaned it off with a power hose.  He showed it to the dogs, who fell in love with it instantly, like they do with volleyballs and human babies.

rutabagaIt sat on the kitchen counter for two days.  I couldn’t see it from my desk but it distracted me, like Edgar Allen Poe’s tell-tale heart beating under the floorboards.

This morning I could wait no longer; I cooked the sucker.  First I cut the filthy outside off and stuffed it into a pot with some butter, and then I whipped it with sour cream and salt and more butter.

mashed rutabagaIt was okayI mean, it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever had.  If you find yourself on a desert island with nothing but a rutabaga, you won’t die from eating it.  In fact, you probably should eat it.  I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that they come alive at midnight.


Rutabaga Purée
by eggton


One rutabaga






While walking through a cabbage patch at the farm, I had a shocking realization about what Georgia O’Keefe’s work would look like had she been a photographer.


38 Comments Post a comment
  1. Lucinda R #

    That’s no rutabaga. That’s a turnip!

    November 5, 2013
  2. Wendy #

    It’s a rutabaga! I have no idea how to explain to you how many jokes my family has about rutabagas! I don’t think a single one of us knows what it really is, but every joke with the kids has something to do with rutabagas! You want a sandwich? All we have are rutabaga sandwiches. You want some cookies? We made rutabaga cookies! The kids have gotten older and say … Dee Dee, it’s NOT a rutabaga cookie! We say things like, you want candy? We only have rutabaga candy! I can’t make this stuff up. Most of our jokes are centered around rutabagas.

    November 5, 2013
  3. I’m no fan of turnips. Rutabagas, on the other hand, are my new favorite veg: delicate, savory, slightly sweet. No hint of bitter. Your recipe would be simply delicious for rutabagas, too.

    I love that Thunder and Seymour fell in love with a root vegetable.

    November 5, 2013
  4. Oh, I just love your directions! Wish I had the guts to do that with some of my recipes. I mean, after the cooking, the notations, the photography, the effort of thinking up a charming story and then writing out the recipe, who has time for directions? Love this post!

    November 5, 2013
    • Hear hear! (or is it “here here”?) 🙂

      November 5, 2013
      • We really need to sort this hear hear/here here thing out.

        November 6, 2013
      • Sometimes it’s “har har” haha. Lame, I know …

        November 10, 2013
  5. Once upon a time, I cooked mashed turnips. No one ate them and my house smelled horrible. The end.

    November 5, 2013
    • This is the kind of thing we need to be teaching kids in school, Tammie.

      November 5, 2013
  6. Ouida Lampert #

    Next time the Great Turnip visits your life, tame it with bacon. The drippings AND the crumbly bits as topping. Oh – and, the longer you cook him, the sweeter the GT (alias: Rutabaga) gets.

    November 5, 2013
  7. Too funny. Nothing can be all bad with butter and salt, even a turnabega…or whatever it is!

    November 5, 2013
  8. rhema3one7 #

    It’s certainly a rutabaga. I ve seen a couple of times. How terrifying it is to see a mystery vegetable.

    November 5, 2013
  9. R. E. Maley #

    I love the O’Keeffe-esque photo. If only there had been a vegetable garden and not a desert outside her home.

    November 5, 2013
  10. That’s why I haven’t joined a CSA. I’m terrified of opening one up to find nothing but URVs in the box. URV, of course, stands for, “unidentifiable root vegetables”. Or, more accurately, LFHTOURVs – “locally farmed humanely treated organic unidentifiable root vegetables”. Gimme store bought potatoes any day.

    November 6, 2013
  11. There is so much gold in this post, I hardly know where to begin.
    First, that’s a rutabaga. I love them mashed in with potatoes–gives the taters a sweeter, more complicated flavor (Ooo, I sound like a wine guy).

    Second, Gorgeous Cabbage! Do me a favor. Get back out to the farm and do a whole series of vegetable portraits. I’d pay good money (okay, we’d have to talk installment payments) to make my kitchen and Eggton O’Keefe gallery.

    Seymour: Tunder! Tunder! Weez gots a new volleyball baby! Iz smelling its bottoms!
    Thunder: It’s… It’s… mesmerizing.

    November 6, 2013
  12. I love how there is Team Rutabaga and Team Turnip. I am Team Neep even though I get horribly confused by the difference between turnips and swedes cos in Scotland we use the words the opposite way from everyone else.

    Also, I got the Georgia O’Keeffe reference and for that I would like to thank Breaking Bad (which I have not seen the end of yet I’m only up to series three and it has already taught me at least one fact).

    November 6, 2013
  13. olivereads #

    “He showed it to the dogs, who fell in love with it instantly, like they do with volleyballs and human babies.” There are some very cute and funny mental images there.

    At least the rutabega/turnip/whatever turned out to be edible!

    November 6, 2013
  14. ATTENTION: that is a rutabega. for sure. how do i know this? It’s a little-known fact, but my family are rutabega experts. We love them, we care for them, they are essential to our thanksgiving table, every single year, since my mom was a little girl. SO.
    here’s the thing: you have to sugar the water. it brings out their inherent sweetness and squashes that strange bitterness, that’s not really bitterness, but more of a bite. you’d think just butter and cream would smooth it out, but it won’t. to summarize: sugar the water. i’ll ask my mom how much, because it makes all the difference. ALL THE DIFFERENCE.

    November 6, 2013
    • I’m not sure if the Rutabaga Expert title makes me sad or proud. But you know I think sugar should be added to EVERYTHING.

      November 6, 2013
      • Words to live by: Sugar should be added to EVERYTHING. c/o movita

        November 6, 2013
    • Shannon, OF COURSE you come from a family of rutabaga experts. Why on earth wouldn’t you? I think you’ve been remiss in not covering that on your own blog. (Unless, of course, you have, and I’m just showing that I didn’t read that day, for which I am shame-faced.)

      November 6, 2013
  15. Rutabaga is an essential ingredient in Cornish Pasties – well worth another try at one if you decide to make those. Don’t trust recipes that involve ground beef, they are by interlopers; a true pasty should have sliced equal amounts of beef, rutabaga and onion and be seasoned only with salt and pepper. Puff pastry is apparently an acceptable cheat, though I like to use homemade shortcrust…

    November 6, 2013
  16. Amy #

    I’ve never cooked a rutabega! And I prob wouldn’t know what one looked like if I tripped over it. All those root veggies look the same, and it’s very confusing. Obviously I need to be getting a lesson from Shannon about these things 🙂

    November 6, 2013
  17. I have an innate mistrust of root vegetables – not many of them taste good and they require effort to make them palatable – I would have put it back in the hole LOL

    November 6, 2013
  18. I have fallen in love with the jowly, rutabaga-loving dog.

    November 6, 2013
  19. cheryllovesfood #

    That was a funny story. I am pretty sure I peed meself. Thanks. That’s the most fun I’ve had all week! I grew up with rutes and they make the house smell like burnt ass hair. Don’t ask…

    November 6, 2013
  20. krisanngentry #

    “Directions: Nope” was the best thing I’ve read all week.

    November 6, 2013
  21. aliciacooksnbooks #

    I put rutabaga in a root-veggie stew and it’s AMAZING. Goes well with parsnips and sweet potatoes and the like. 🙂

    November 6, 2013
  22. Hahaha, great post! A pumpkin size turnip, what a challenge…

    November 7, 2013
  23. Your gigundo root is indeed a rutabaga: its problem is that it got too big before it was pulled from the ground. Small ones are delicious raw (just peel them) or roasted with other root vegetables such as celeriac, carrots, potatoes. The CSA items that fill my heart with fear are dandelion greens.

    November 7, 2013
  24. Jen #
    We grew up with Cornish pasties from Upper Peninsula MI. Gotta have rutabagas!

    November 7, 2013
  25. aw ive been missing from wordpress for too long….and your blog always makes me laugh and remind me why I love it! thank u. BTW….maybe ive had it wrong, but I thought that was a swede? though in Scotland they are ‘Neeps! I actually think nobody knows what they are!

    November 8, 2013
  26. jenny_o #

    Sure looks like a mega-turnip to me. I grew up eating turnip and we still don’t consider a turkey dinner complete without this vegetable (even at community suppers and the like). I think it’s a bit of an acquired taste, and in general adults appreciate them more than kids do. Something like broccoli and brussel sprouts.

    November 9, 2013
  27. Jen #

    Thunder doesn’t really look that excited to see that in the house. To me her expression is really saying “Is that suppose to be in my castle?”

    The other one, on the other hand, clearly could care a less what it is! HA!

    November 10, 2013

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