While in Scotland I saw acres of turnip fields with the most beautiful greens I’d ever seen with purple turnips as big as softballs. They told me turnips are raised for animal food only and no one ever cooked the greens to eat. While they were here I cooked some for them which they ate but were not convinced to make it a regular part of their diet.
This is the Christmas letter I sent to them in 2009.
Dorothy Graham Gast
Today I gathered the turnips and greens that survived our too wet fall and prepared turnip greens with roots and ham. I remember the beautiful fields of turnips along the roads near your homes and calculated the hundreds of thousands of American dollars that they would fetch in the supermarkets of small town Alabama.
After the famous Civil War that divided the states and cost more lives than any war Americans ever fought, the women and children, the old and crippled, were left to the ruins of their homes. Whether great plantations or one room cabins, hunger and illness was everywhere.
George Washington Carver, a Black orphan who had become a scientist and come to teach in a Black college in Alabama searched for a way to feed the hungry. Plantation owners had raised turnips and either fed the greens to animals or thrown them away. Carver taught the needy families to raise and eat turnips with their greens, sweet potatoes, and peanut products because of the high nutritional value and low cost of each.
Since then turnip greens have been a comfort food within the reach of the poorest. Never served on fancy occasions, it is a dish reserved for family and those close. With cornbread and the vinegar from pickled hot peppers, it is often followed with baked sweet potatoes and offered to guests and family with great love and respect.
May your holidays be full of the joy and peace that only comes from above.
Love, Dorothy from Alabama
Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) – A novel inspired by the experiences of the Cottingham family who immigrated from the Eastern Shore of Virginia to Bibb County, Alabama
Filled with drama, suspense, humor, and romance, DISCORDANCE continues the family saga from the Tapestry of Love series with the children of Mary Dixon who married Thomas Cottingham.
Inspired by true events and the Cottingham family that resided in 17th century Somerset, Maryland and Delaware, colonial America comes alive with pirate attacks, religious discord, and governmental disagreements in the pre-Revolutionary War days of America.