Radishes and Rutabagas

Yes, my friends, I’m still talking about vegetables, even though the gardening season is over.

rutabagas-250pxThanksgiving is coming, and, in my opinion, Thanksgiving isn’t Thanksgiving without rutabaga. Also known as a swede (short for Swedish turnip), yellow turnip, baigie, snagger, or neep, a rutabaga is the result of crossing a turnip with a cabbage. I can’t figure out how that works, but I do know that rutabaga is seriously good.

In my opinion, at least. Not everyone agrees with me. In fact, most people I know have never tasted it, and frequently when I buy them, the person at the check-out asks me what it is.

I’m told that in Germany and France, rutabaga is looked down upon due to its association with the food shortages that followed both World Wars. Most people in my family don’t care for it simply because they don’t like it, not because of unpleasant memories. From what I’ve read, people with a sensitivity to bitter tastes find it quite nasty, though I’ve never noted any bitterness in its flavor.

Though I love rutabaga, and it grows in this climate, we don’t grow it in our garden. We tried it a couple of times, but it never did very well. No, let me amend that: the first time it didn’t do well. The second year, it looked a lot better, but when we went to harvest them, we discovered mice had burrowed into them and were living in them. We didn’t try again after that. static.squarespace.com

(Just now, when I looked for a photo of a mouse in a rutabaga, I actually found one. So apparently it’s not that rare a thing.)

But I buy them from time to time, especially in November. Because Thanksgiving isn’t Thanksgiving without rutabaga.

One thing I don’t buy this time of year is radishes. That’s because, when almost everything in the garden is harvested, we plant tillage radishes as a cover crop. They’re great for the soil, as the taproots grow down several feet, pulling up nutrients and aerating the soil. If you’re interested in reading about some of their amazing properties, check out this website. What isn’t mentioned on the site, though, is our favorite thing about these radishes: They’re delicious to eat.

p-tillage-radish-featuredThe photo to the left, which I borrowed from the website, shows them growing. However, the next photo shows a few I pulled from our own garden a week ago or so. It’s fun to be able to harvest fresh things from the garden in November! Something that isn’t a brussels sprout, that is.

These crunchy radishes are great for salads, snacking, shredding up in coleslaw, adding to kimchi (if you make that sort of thing), and — our personal favorite — 2014-11-12 14.06.25-2sandwiches. Radish sandwiches used to be a particular favorite of ours in the spring, but since we discovered tillage radishes, it’s now an autumn treat as well.

As you can probably see, some of these radishes would have been longer, except that they broke off when I pulled them. But no worries: there’s still plenty to go around!

Ah, yes. Autumn is a great time of year in the garden. (Especially if you’re a mouse.)

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Blogging Around Town

I’ve been a guest on a couple of other writers’ blogs lately. I’ve listed these (and all the occasions I’ve visited other sites) on the Events and Appearances tab above. But in case you didn’t catch them, I thought I’d share links to the most recent posts here.

On November 6, I visited David Bergsland’s blog, Reality Calling, where I talked about hearing and responding to God’s call to write. Not everyone’s a writer, of course. But whatever abilities He’s given you, do you give them back to Him in worship? Check out the post here.

Yesterday, on that same blog, David asked me why Gannah holds such an appeal for Christians. I’m sure there are plenty of Christians who don’t find the planet appealing, but I did my best to answer his question here.

Today, my friend Michelle Griep allows me to blather about writers killing people. But the best part is, she’s doing a giveaway, offering the winner the choice of any of the four books in the Gannah series. So check it out! If you haven’t grabbed up The Last Toqeph yet, here’s your chance to get it free.

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Rambling Contemplations While Rambling

P4010080On Tuesday, a rare blue-sky-and-shirt-sleeves November afternoon, I walked to the library to return a book.

(The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It’s an international best-seller for very good reason. Though I loved it, I took it back to the library because I am not a book thief!)

It’s not much of a walk, a modest two-mile round trip. As I walked, so did my mind. But unlike my feet, which had a destination, my thoughts rambled all over. Such as…

I used to walk to the library when I was a kid. That was a more pleasant trip than this. Here in LaVale, I walk along a major city street, often with no buffer zone between the sidewalk and the road. (There are different names for this: tree lawn, curb strip, devil strip, parking. What do you call it?) Cars pass constantly, quickly, and noisily. I don’t like speed. I don’t like noise. Not a fan of exhaust fumes, either. The quiet residential streets I walked on my way to the library as a kid were more to my liking.

Now that I think of it, though, I usually rode my bike. (The faster to get home and read, perhaps?) I’m not sure how far it was. It wasn’t a straight shot, as it is here, but I’m guessing it was about the same distance. If I took the shortcut, that is—a little-used road (it was gravel in those days) called Lee Court went from Lamson right into the library’s parking lot. Without the shortcut, it would have probably taken me twice as long to get there.

The former Bedford Public Library is not not there anymore. Quite a few years ago, they built a new library (now the Southeastern Branch of the Cuyahoga County Library system) on the site where the junior high used to be before they razed it. My parents went to school in that same building–the old half. They built an addition onto it at some unknown date. (Unknown to me, but I’m sure somebody knows.) When my parents were students there, it housed grades 9 through 12, and they called it Bedford Junior/Senior High School. When I went, it was one of two junior highs in the school district.

I don’t know if they tore down the old library, or if they use the building for something else now. It was next door to the Big Little Store, commonly called The Big & Little. I believe the store is still there.

A walk to the library and back didn’t seem like much then. It shouldn’t seem like much now, but I’m out of shape. It’s unreasonable how much I feel this walk. I definitely need to do this more often. I think I will–and I’ll work my way up to a decent distance. Two miles is a walk for wimps. (Note: I’ve kept that resolution–so far.)

Do I keep wanting to trip because of uneven sidewalks, or because there’s something wrong with me? (Note: In the past two days, I walked a different route, and I didn’t have trouble with wanting to trip. I’ve decided my problem Tuesday was the sidewalk, not me.)

This is a beautiful part of Maryland, and there are a lot of lovely places to walk. The route

Allegany County Public Library, LaVale Branch
Allegany County Public Library, LaVale Branch

between my house and the library is not one of them. I do like having things close by, though. On my way to the library, I pass my bank, my doctor’s office, the dentist’s, and the auto repair shop. Not that I like going to the doctor, dentist, or auto mechanic, but if you have to go, it’s nice to be able to walk. Especially the mechanic. You can drop off the car (or pick it up) without asking someone else to go with you to drive you back.

Despite the fact that it’s a busy road and no fun to walk on, I often see other people out walking too. I guess a lot of folks around here like to walk for exercise. But you know what I never see, anywhere, ever? Kids walking to or from school. Don’t kids do that anymore? Why not?

The library looks nice from the outside, but I was disappointed the first time I went in. It’s nice enough, but very small. The Bedford Library seemed larger, but I don’t think it really was. It’s just that I was smaller.

When I was walking, I thought these contemplations would make an interesting blog post, but now that I write them down (leaving out most of it, because I can’t remember), I realize it’s not interesting at all. But after taking the time (FINALLY! IT TOOK ME THREE DAYS!) to write this, I’m going to post it. Nobody reads my blog anyway, so who cares?

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In Which I Contemplate Love, Thankfulness, and Sin

spaceI thought I remembered writing a post about my thankfulness that God is the God of love. But when I did a search for it, I couldn’t find it. Am I losing my faculties?

Perhaps, but that’s a topic for another post. For our purposes today, I’m happy to report that, after a few puzzled moments, I solved this particular mystery.

I did, in fact, do a post on the topic, but I didn’t publish it here; I wrote it for the Speculative Faith blog, and only published a link to it here. Ah, that makes sense!

I was thinking about that subject the other day as I read the end of the book of Revelation. Check out Revelation 21:27 through 22:3 (emphasis added):

And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.

In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:

Glorious as this promise is, something unsettling occurred to me as I contemplated this passage: that is, as a writer of speculative fiction, it’s easier for me to imagine a world with no love in it than one with no sin.

The first is horrifying, but imaginable. The second is so foreign to my experience—not just to my experience, but to my innermost nature—that I don’t even know how to begin envisioning it.

How about you?

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