What’s crazier: to host Thanksgiving dinner for 24 from food sourced within 50 miles or to cook a vegetable you’ve never seen before yesterday? After bringing the turkeys home and settling them into the fridge and freezer, I headed off to the Schenectady Greenmarket, Gade, Honest Weight Coop, and then on to Schoharie Valley Farms. Most of the menu consists of root vegetables in one form or another, gravy, and pie. How hard could that be?
This year I decided to forego my wild rice dressing since I haven’t seen wild rice growing in the marshes around here. But that left us looking for a textural shift from the sweet mushy stuff that passes for Thanksgiving side dishes. We found a roasted vegetable salad that included sunchokes, frisee, and radicchio. It would give a light, bright contrast to the beets and Brussels sprouts. But sadly, we couldn’t find frisee anywhere and the only radicchio we found was at the coop and it had traveled here from Guatamala. Nancy was starting to talk about citrus and I could feel our resolve crumbling.
Schoharie Valley Farms didn’t have much of their own produce, but we added some vegetables we were missing and circled around a display of really big turnips. We were told they were Macomber Turnips, a local specialty, and that some people use them as an alternative to rutabaga. Now this wasn’t much help as a description, since I’ve never cooked a rutabaga! Still, we got two, thinking we could mix them with the mashed potatoes to lighten the meal.
Once we got home and did a little internet research we discovered that our Macomber Turnips are at true find. How many other vegetables have their own historical marker? According to ediblesouthshore.com these gargantuan turnips were developed by the Macomber brothers for the Philadelphia Exposition in 1876 and have been a local legend ever since. And according to Diaryofalocavore.com, they taste good mashed, aerated, roasted, sautéed, or raw in salad. RAW. I'll let you know how it turns out!
The question remains, though: How did they get to Schoharie? More to follow....