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Friday Fun! (Me vs. Turnip Greens)

January 22, 2010 8 comments

Upon the realization that my budget went flying out the window in the last six months of 2009, I decided it was high time to get frugal again.  This of course was spurred on when I got my annual free credit report and saw my student debt all summarized in one place.  Anyway, to this budgeting end, I got two apps for my iTouch–Budget and SpendLite.  I used Budget to outline my monthly budget.  This left me with a set amount for food/necessities and one for fun.  I added those two numbers together, divided by four, and there you have my weekly fun/food/necessities allowance which I plugged into SpendLite.  I can add new expenses right on it as I go without having to save receipts and it automatically subtracts it for me.  A world where I have to do less math is a world I like.

Anyway, so to this end, I realized I need to go back to the creative cooking that I established in my super-poor student days.  I’m also attempting to eat more seasonally, as you guys know, because it’s cheaper and it exposes me to new foods.  This week when I was grocery shopping, I came armed with a list of seasonal veggies–sweet potatoes, turnips, butternut squash, and kale.  I quickly found the sweet potatoes and decided against butternut squash since I still had a backpile of frozen butternut squash ravivolis made last week.  The turnips were disturbingly pre-cut and individually shrink-wrapped. WTF?!  They looked like little deformed heads in shrinkwrap.  Kinda like the heads in Futurama only without all that fun water to bounce around in.

Defeated in the turnip arena, I decided to brave the leafy green land of kale.  One of my best friends loves kale and insists it’s easy enough to stir-fry up, so I approached the leafy green portion of the produce aisle that I usually give the evil eye to as I walk by.  The problem with my grocery store is that it sticks labels of what the leafy greens are on the top in a manner that seems to have zero bearing on the leafy greens down below.  You’d think that the lables would be in the same order as the leafy greens, but apparently not.  After much searching, I decided that I’d probably found the kale.  It was leafy.  It was green.  It looked fresh.  It had a produce number on it, which the signs unfortunately didn’t have, but this meant I could type in the produce number at the self-checkout and be sure.

Upon arrival at the self-checkout, I typed in the produce number, and it informs me that I just bought around $1.50 worth of turnip greens.

Turnip greens?! What the fuck is a turnip green?!

However, the practical and very cheap portion of my mind reminded me that turnips are in season so probably the greens are too, and did I notice that this was only costing me $1.50?  So I bought it.  Plus removing things you’ve already keyed in at self-checkout is just annoying.

Using my mad librarian skizzillz, I discovered that most greens are cooked pretty similarly and that on the bitterness scale (what kind of veggie *needs* a bitterness scale?!) it is more bitter than spinach.  Erm, ok.  The next night, I had already determined to make pizza for dinner.  The only veggies I had to put on it were sweet potatoes, black beans, turnip greens, and red potatoes.  I learned from Vegan with a Vengeance that you can put potato on pizza if you thinly slice it and place give it enough oil to soak up to keep from being crunchy.  I’d done that before, and it was amazing.  Sweet potato, black beans, and cheese does not a filling pizza make, imho, so I pulled up info on cooking turnip greens on the interweb.  Apparently you can make greens less bitter by quickly boiling them for a few minutes prior to cooking them in whatever you want to cook them in.  Using copious amounts of garlic was also recommended.  The number one recommendation though was to add pork grease.  Yeah, that wasn’t going to happen, and I couldn’t help but wonder how bad these greens taste if you have to soak them in what essentially equals bacon grease.  But I soldiered on.

I took the huge leaves, ripped two in half, and put them to boiling.  Guys, turnip greens do not have a pleasant aroma when cooking.  It was like smelling armpits.  I drained them, stuck them on a cutting board, and soaked them with lemon juice.  I read somewhere that putting lemon juice on spinach draws out the iron, and I figured it wouldn’t hurt the turnip greens.  I then stood staring at them trying to determine the best method for the pizza.

Since the sweet potato slices have to be on the bottom of the white pizza to soak up the oil, I decided to do the herbs, garlic, and oil, then sweet potato, then ripped up bits of turnip greens topped with more garlic, followed by black beans and three kinds of cheese.  One thing the interwebs didn’t tell me is that turnip greens are kinda stringy.  I tossed the stems that extend up into the leaves ad infinitum and placed the pieces on the pizza.  I crossed my fingers after assembling and stuck the whole thing in the oven.

Surprise, surprise, the pizza was a success!  It was yummy and garlicky and the greens cooked to perfection sandwiched between sweet potatoes and garlic.  I’m still not sure how I feel about a veggie that smells like armpits when you cook it and that needs to be soaked in other things, like garlic, to taste good.  In any case, I still have about 10 leaves to use up somehow over the next week.

Happy weekend guys!