Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Baga Lady

     I can never forget the "Baga Lady" at this time of year. When I started my first little garden venture here on the farm, I had a small farm stand along the road. I sold all kinds of produce from it, as well as little quilts and handmade candles and other farm related products. It was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun.
One day a lady showed up and was amazed that I had rutabaga for sale. She loved the stuff and told me they ate it all the time when she was growing up. She raved about it and told wonderful stories of how her mom fixed the "bagas" for them. It was really fun to talk to her about something so endearing in her childhood, something that seemed very strange and unique to me and also very everyday. There was quite a connection for her, and then to me...and food had done it!
     The next year I decided not to have the little stand as we were taking produce into Dave's Supermarket in Fairbury, IL. Dave's is a fantastic place, family owned and very community friendly. (check them out at davessupermarket.com). I took in some rutabaga and thought nothing of it. Next thing I know I'm getting fan mail! Someone sent a nice postcard saying how much they love the fact that our rutabaga didn't have wax on it. Wow...I never thought about it before! But, you pretty much can't find rutabaga in the grocery store without a wax covering. A few days after that I saw the "Baga Lady" in Dave's and she told me how happy she was that I brought the "bagas" in so she could still get them from someone she knew.
     I happen to love rutabaga cooked in the oven like home fries (although I don't like them raw). Here's how we do it...slice off the outer hard layer, then slice the softer inner section into pieces about 1/4" thick. I like to slice them to look like home fries, kind of wedge shape. Then we put them in a bowl with a little olive oil, just enough to coat them, and stir them around until they are well coated. Put them on a cookie sheet and then place them in the oven at about 400 degrees. When they start to brown a little, we turn them over. I just keep an eye on them until they are soft and cooked, but also a little crisp around the edges. Yummy!
     This is the best time of year for the rutabaga harvesting. We have harvested a couple of hundred pounds this season and should've planted more. The cold frosty weather in the fall causes the sugars to concentrate in the root part of the plant and they become sweeter (most root crops are like this). So...if you can find Bagas from a friendly farmer, or a friendly grocery store...enjoy!!

P.S. Here is a picture of our hoophouses (without the doors on yet). We were able to purchase them through a USDA program/grant. They are unheated and the ends can be taken off or rolled up in the hot weather. Inside we have mustard and other greens, cilantro, beets, carrots, turnips, garlic, and onions. We'll be able to grow some crops in them all winter and during the rest of the year create a longer heat season for our heat loving peppers.


  1. Thanks for the recipe. I've had them only mashed with butter. But now I'll try them as fries from the oven.

  2. I'm curious about something. Where does the wax come from for supermarket rutabagas? Is it sprayed on at some point of the process, and if so, where?