I grew up familiar with the smell of Turnips and Turnip Greens simmering away in a big pot with a chunk of salt pork adding its porcine punch. I've helped pull those purple topped roots out of the ground, washed them off, peeled and chopped them. I've helped scrub the leaves which hold on to the nourishing grit of the soil unless they get dunked and swished with a heavy hand. And I hated them. Knowing there are so many foods I didn't enjoy as a child, and then fell in love with as an adult gives me comfort. When my kids used to turn up their noses to healthy vegetables, and I became an expert in negotiating for a balanced diet, I tried to remember my own culinary journey. I've tried to not get stressed about my teenager not liking pickled things, or cole slaw, or egg plant. I left all those same foods on my plate, too. Today? My plate hardly needs washing because there is never anything left on it. I think curiosity, education and exposure has made an enormous difference. It astounds me there are so many adults who have allowed themselves to be trapped in a food box of meat and potatoes with a feeling of "if I don't eat it already, I don't need to start now" kind of mentality. What a world of tastes and experiences they are missing.
I've watched my adult daughter grow into a good cook, an experimental and curious eater, and she used to snub almost everything green. I believe as long as we keep trying, making good food available, show by example and make food events (whether at the table or out in the world) a fun and stress-free time, our kids will grow into good healthy eaters.
If you haven't ever tried Southern Turnips and Greens or you had them as a kid and couldn't stand them - it's time to give them a try. The iron and minerals in Turnips and Greens are worth the chance that you might fall in love with them, too.
RECIPE: Southern Turnips and Greens
1 bunch Turnip Greens (wash well, strip from stalks and chopped large)
2 Fresh Turnips (wash, peel and cut into cubes)
Small piece of Salt Pork
1/2 onion chopped
1 quart Chicken Stock (or vegetable stock)
1) In a large pot, heat the salt pork and the chopped onions on Low/Med. heat until tender (about 5 minutes.)
2) Pour in the stock, then add the chopped greens, turnip cubes and pepper. Salt to taste, but be careful as the salt pork adds some too.
3) Bring the pot to a boil, then turn the heat down to low/simmer and cover. Cook for about 1 1/2 hours. Stir now and then to keep it even.
These are so good just served alone, but also good over rice or as a side dish with fish, chicken, beef or pork.
The juice left over is called "Pot Liquor" and you can sop this up with a good buttermilk biscuit to put a real smile on your face :D