A few years ago I decided to try rutabags. I had *heard* of rutabagas, but didn’t know what one looked like. So when I encountered a tray of them while shopping with my mom, I said “Hey, Mum, can we try a rutabaga?” And she said “Why not?” And so a rutabaga was purchased and brought home, where I proceeded to look up recipes involving rutabaga.
This is not as easy as it sounds. For one thing, three out of seven people in my family are allergic in a big way to Dairy. This is not just milk from the cow: Margarine has dairy. Ranch Dressing has dairy. As does “Cream Of____” soups, many soups that *aren’t* “Cream of___”, cereals, most breads, piecrusts, RITZ brand crackers, many cereal bars, chocolate chips, and nearly all “convenience” foods, such as cake or biscuit mix, canned frosting, and pudding mixes.
One of those people is also allergic to wheat. Nearly all foods have wheat in them. Salad dressings, microwave food, anything with “Food Starch” is suspect. Even trace amounts of wheat or dairy–such as food that was processed on equipment that processed those foods–can leave this person (who shall remain nameless) in the bathroom doubled over in agony for hours. Because of this, everyone in our family eats the majority of our food wheat and dairy free, made mostly from scratch, using milk substitutes or water, and spelt flour. It’s cheaper than cooking six meals a day.
Nearly all the recipes that called for rutabaga also called for milk, cheese, butter, and canned “Cream of____” soup, in various combinations.
We can substitute to a certain extent, but after a point it’s not even the same recipe. And some of the ingrediants– how does one substitute a “Cream of ____” soup, without making a whole pot of soup? So I didn’t feel secure with any of the recipes.
Moreover, I was beginning to have doubts about the palatability of rutabagas. I didn’t think people would like it. So what I did was cut it up into teeny, tiny pieces–so as no-one would notice– and add it to an existing stew recipe. You know the sort–potatoes, onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes, beef/vineson. My ploy didn’t quite work: people noticed, and *liked* it! It added a little “spice” flavour to the stew, and gave it wonderful complexity.
So yesterday, I did it again.
Well, tried to. You know those comic videos, where some kid is defending the home front against intruders, and throws down a jar of marbles, which the intruder proceeds to slip on? Well, tapioca *TRUMPS* marbles *any* day! It’s so small and grainy, your feet can’t find purchase, and it gets absolutely everywhere. But after that mess was cleaned up, I finished the stew.
Which turned out *Very* well. I think everyone took seconds. The moral here is: Figure out how to like cheap and practical foods, because in these troubled times you’re going to be eating a whole lot of them if you know what’s good for you. BTW, did you know a rutabaga is more commonly known as a swede? Who’d’ve thunk?