How to Mix Turnips, Wine, and Friends

Since I ‘retired’ from Better Homes and Gardens magazine last fall, I’ve been thinking about getting a new blog going. Thinking is about as far as I got while enjoying the holidays, getting our house ready to list, and just plain wallowing in some well-deserved leisure time. During all that thinking, my head filled with enough ideas so that some of them are starting to spill out. Which leads me to my first blog entry. This is what comes from having too much relaxing fun!

First I thought I’d write about the most wonderful carrots I have ever eaten. Then I considered the lovely Scarlet Queen turnips that went into a gratin with the wonderful Bolero carrots, and the great cheddar cheese that became part of the sauce in the gratin. And I know I’ll have to do a post on the Iowa Food Co-op where I purchased my lovely winter vegetables and much more. Eventually it all came together—with wine.

chard tastingI registered for a couple of classes in the enology program at DMACC this month: Vin150 Introduction to Wine and VIN153 Introduction to Wine Regions. They are ‘real’ classes, and will present a fair degree of challenge. The first challenge, which is the most fun and which I can best meet in the company of willing friends, is to taste three examples of a particular grape or style of wine each week. Yes, that’s each week of the whole semester. We started with Chardonnay last week, this week is Riesling, and next is Sauvignon Blanc. First we go through white wines, then red, and end up with port in April. I have to turn in tasting notes on each wine. Tough homework, huh?

So last Saturday night is where the carrots, turnips, cheese and wine came together with friends. My husband Jerry and I invited our friends Dawn and Greg over for dinner. I made a salad of frisee with brie, pears, walnuts and a vinaigrette. Pressed for time, I had to cheat on the bread, buying one of those loaves that you re-bake in the oven, but the butter from Picket Fence Creamery made up for it. I made a simple roasted chicken with sage from my garden, a gratin of carrots, turnips and cheddar, and we passed the gingered bread-and-butter pickles I made last summer. The gratin was a big hit. I adapted this recipe for Cheesey Turnips and Carrots, increasing the vegetables a bit and topping it with buttered crumbs. Who knew turnips could be so good? Dawn contributed a pretty cherry cobbler for dessert.

The Chardonnay tasting included four different wines, two from France, one from Washington, and one from California. Dawn and Greg brought the French Chardonnays—the Louis Jadot Chassagne-Montrachet was my favorite of the bunch. It was interesting to see how different the French wines were from each other, and how they compared to the American wines. I wish I had picked up a locally-produced Chardonnay. Although Chardonnay doesn’t grow well in Iowa, some Midwestern wineries obtain the grapes or juice from California or other areas. (Mental note: look for Midwestern Rieslings for next week.) Curious about my tasting notes? Click here.

Although we’ve had Dawn and Greg over for dinner many times, I have to say that this was a really superb evening. When we finally looked at the clock, it was well after midnight. How the heck did that happen?! I can’t wait for the next ‘homework dinner’!


5 thoughts on “How to Mix Turnips, Wine, and Friends

    1. Thanks for the comments, David and Theresa. I’m really having a good time with the wine and food mix, and hope to include a lot more Midwestern wines. But we’ve been enjoying a lot of Washington and California wines too! Any recommendations from you two are welcome. We had Riesling on Friday, and next Friday night is Sauvignon Blanc.

  1. Susan, I am so excited to start following your blog. You are so inspirational to me. Thanks for mentioning the wine classes at dmacc. Once I get some down time, I would love to take some of those classes to really learn about wine. Signed up for your email newsletter and can’t wait for your next post!


    1. I would love to sit down with you and chat, Diana. And I think it’s you that inspires me! We have very similar approaches to food and healthy eating; I know when I tell you that I cook with schmaltz and lard, you won’t wrinkle your nose at me!

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