In an effort to learn about other foods, learn kitchen skills, and practice working together, our family has taken on the weekly “Family Produce Project”. Every week we will seek out a new fruit or vegetable that is either completely unfamiliar to us or that we haven’t done much with before. We will scope out the produce sections of our grocery store(s), agree on a new item to try, research how to clean and prepare it, and find a yummy recipe to try our hand at cooking it. Anything goes- from the most obscure to a rather known fruit or veggie, keeping in mind that our goal is to try new things and get out of our food comfort zone.
The first week has been fun. I initially thought we would make a special trip to find the perfect subject to get us out of our box. Week one already proved busy, so in our Wal-mart run for camp things, we decided to check out what the produce department had to offer.
I was actually pretty impressed with the selection and the display. There were rows and rows of every color you could look for. The girls had to determine if they wanted to try a fruit or veggie, decide what color they were looking for, and figure out if they were going for something they sort of knew or something that they had never heard of before.
Not too long in the hunt, they found the rutabaga.
I love how Wal-mart gives the shopper a brief blurb about the produce. High in vitamin C, sort of tastes like a turnip, good to cook stews or soups with, and look for one that is not mushy or decaying. We figured two would feed our family of six in a side dish, so we bagged them up.
This will be our Monday night gig. All the girls have to plan to be home and all have to work together in the kitchen and on the computer (or their phones) to figure out a recipe that sounds good to everyone. They have to determine how you clean and prep the food to eat (skin, de-seed, peel, slice, etc.) and will have to gather all the ingredients and tools to make the dish. After a few hits on Pinterest, it didn’t take long for them to agree on making rutabaga fries. That pretty much meant ketchup, too. I’m sure they saw that as a necessity to trying to eat something that looked like an huge, dirty, rock.
We first had figure out how to cut into the rutabaga. Did it have a seed or pit? Can you eat the skin? They determined it’s best to start by slicing the whole veggie straight down the middle, so you can work then with each half. You lay each half flat-side down, then slice 1/4″ all the way through (much like you would slice a loaf of bread). You then take each half-moon shaped piece, cut the skin off, and slice 1/4″ slices, very much looking just like raw French fry pieces would.
Once both are cut, you simply toss with olive oil and spices, lay out flat in baking pan, and bake. Pretty simple prep for limited cooking abilities in the kitchen. The finished dish smelled yummy and each of the girls seemed genuinely interested to and willing to try it out. When we sat down to eat, we looked up what we could on rutabagas. Did you know that we are the only ones that call them that name? In just about everywhere else in the world they are called Swedish turnips, or Swedes for short. And they are actually a cruciferous vegetable- just like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage to name a few. They are an excellent source of Vitamin C, potassium, and manganese. They have fiber and other vitamins and minerals that promote healthy functions in the body. They are antioxidant and beta-carotene rich and help protect from heart disease and cancer.
So, this will be a goal for summer. Every Monday night is family night, girls night in if Brad has to be gone. We will cook and learn and laugh and hopefully make some healthy memories in the kitchen. Healthy for our bodies and healthy for our souls.
Rutabaga Oven Fries: (adapted from a recipe on cookinglight.com)
2 medium rutabagas
1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons rosemary
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
Slice up the rutabaga into matchstick size pieces, similar to the cut of thin French fries. Either in a baggie or just in the jelly roll pan, toss and coat the fries with the oil and spices covering the pieces evenly. Roast in a 425 degree oven for 12-15 minutes, or until tender and browned.