FOR AS LONG AS I CAN REMEMBER, THERE WERE TURNIPS IN MY LIFE. Lets hear it for long term memory. It helped that I grew up in a gardening community in the sunny firtile south. Greens were a staple in our diet. Turnips, mustard and collards were the central trinity of the leafy green stuff.

I have missed turnips on my diet since moving to Maine over 30 years ago. I can’t explain it. I’ve grown a lot of things to eat but until this year never a turnip.

I need to make something clear. When talking about the lowly turnip there are the green tops and the rather zippy tasting root bulb. In the markets you can on occasion find the root in the vegetable bin. I have never seen turnip greens in a market in New England. But of course, there are many markets into which I have never stepped.

Growing turnips involves about 40 to 50 days for mature plants. They are cool weather plants permitting an early crop and a late one as well if timed right.
Turnips are very low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Vitamin B6, Calcium, Phosphorus and Manganese, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C and Potassium. Wow! This is a real power food.

So, to be clear, I grow them for the tops. I eat the roots but its the leafy tops that are the prize. I wash them well and pinch the leaves into bits about and inch or two across. Wash them very well. Even clean the leaves will seem to be rough with grime but it’s just the nature of the plant.

Traditionalists will begin with a slice of salt pork in the pot and that makes for a wonderful flavor but it isn’t necessary to do that. I do sauté some garlic in OVOO and then lay in about half a nice sized sweet onion sliced or chopped, then pile on the greens with the pealed and quartered roots. About an inch or two of water or stock in the pot should do it. Add a dash of sugar – not too much, about half a teaspoon should work. Add some salt and pepper. I also love some heat which is provided with some flacked dried red peppers or Cajun seasoning. You’ll figure it out. Any kind of pepper sauce or Tabasco on the table, of course, is recommended.

These tender greens are a great accompaniment to anything and can, with a wedge of hot cornbread, verily make the heart sing. Though I have no specific data to support it, I am sure that combination covers all the basic food groups.


I say “enjoyed” loosely as there were precious few chances to actually observe the reportedly spectacular display. CA’s brother-in-law – I’ll call him Dick – and I decided to take lawn chairs out into the back yard at the appropriate hour and await the show. There were clouds. Yet, there were holes in the cloud cover and a “hole” seemed to hover over Dick’s back yard conveniently for most of the evening.

As we were setting up the chairs and facing the correct direction, northeast, I looked up and saw a meteor streak across the sky – actually the the hole in the cloud cover – and cried out, “There’s one!”. But, of course it was gone in a twinkling of an eye.

It was a cool evening. I had to resort to a sweatshirt to find a level of comfort that was doable. Waiting for shooting stars, as I have always known the phenomenon, is an activity that borders on the edges of boredom.

Dick and I would occasionally engage in a form of sophisticated humor – at least we thought of it that way, being a couple of post High School Scholars – and say things like, “I think I saw a glimmer over toward Cassiopeia. Did you see that?” Then Dick would say, “I might have. Where is Cassiopeia?”

The neighbor guy came over shortly and stood gazing upward with us and offered a helpful comment now and then. After a while he said good night and left us to our quest. It was getting colder. Dew was collecting on us but we persisted in our search.

After one space of about five or six minutes of silence – men can do that, women can not – Dick said, “This is kind of like fishing, isn’t it?” I agree as I laughed along with him. Here we are waiting for a bite. We saw five or six unremarkable streaking meteors. Nothing like the one a minute the prognosticators promised.

There were clouds. There was reflected light in the sky. We would have been blinded by streaking meteors under optimum conditions, of course. However we did not have those conditions. We did have good beer.