Thursday, December 28, 2006

In today's LETTER OF THE DAY, C.L. writes:

"It might interest you to know that one of the local schools serves rutabaga french fries, and that they are the favorite dish in the school cafeteria, much preferred over french fried potatoes. They have a slightly sweeter taste.

"I bake them in an aluminum pie plate, after cutting them to about the same size as normal french fries and spraying them liberally with olive -oil flavored non-stick cooking spray. I cover the plate with aluminum foil, up the temperature to about 400(toaster oven) and check to see if they are baking soft. They do not seem to crisp, no matter what the cooking method; I have tried micro-waving and pan-frying. each of these methods results in burning; baking is the best answer.

"The results are delicious with no salt or pepper required."

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

UPDATE: the Ithaca Journal reports that 100 competitors and 500 spectators attended the Ninth Annual Rutabaga Curling Championships at the Farmer's Market in downtown Ithaca. Before the official results can be confirmed, and to avoid the steroid scandals that have shaken other world-class athletic events, the winners and runner-ups will have to undergo thorough drug testing. Our congratulations to High Commissioner Steve Sierigk for organizing another successful event. Stay tuned for further details.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

ARSI applies the soundest principles of agronomy in managing the experimental rutabaga fields near its World Headquarters in Forest Grove, Oregon. In this scenic photo, you can see that a rotated crop of winter wheat was well established before our first snowfall a few weeks ago.

In early November, ARSI Variant 09-4327RV-06 was harvested from these same fields, yielding 27.4 metric tons of rutabaga per acre. The viability of this promising rutabaga strain is currently under study in ARSI's labs.

In nearby fields, other varieties of rutabaga will be grown throughout the year. ARSI President for Life Obie MacAroon is currently on an extended tour of the upper Amazon basin, searching for tropical variations of the rutabaga that may be able to thrive in middle latitudes during the current global warming trend. President MacAroon plans to file a detailed report on his findings via satellite after the New Year. Rest assured that ARSI will always remain on the cutting edge of rutabotany.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

In today's Letter of the Day...

D.G. asks: "Do rutabagas contain sufficient gadolinium that their consumption might replace the costly injection of this strongly paramagnetic element prior to MRI imaging? And is it retained in fermented derivative products? There may be a new industry here."

This area of ARSI research is highly classified at present, but I can report that we will soon be applying to the Food and Drug Administration for approval as an MRI contrast agent for exactly the reasons you mention. The rutabaga contains only trace quantities of gadolinium. However, when properly refined, rutabaga extract is as ferromagnetic as gadolinium. The major advantage is price: gadolinium, which must be extracted at great cost from minerals such as monazite and bastnasite, currently sells for $485 per kilogram on the world market. The average price of rutabaga extract is currently less than $2 per kilogram. We will keep our fellow bloggers advised about new developments in this exciting area of rutastudies.

[Photo: Mt. Hood from ARSI's World Headquarters in Forest Grove, Oregon USA]

Saturday, December 02, 2006

By popular demand, I now explain the two comments and responses in French and German to the December 1st posting below:

  • The comment from Karine, in French, states that she is expecting guests from diverse cultures "at our manor" over the holidays and doesn't know which wine would "best exhibit the tendencies" of the rutabaga. In my response, I recommend the 1979 Château de Corton-André (Côte de Beaune), with its "supple, round and velvety flavor." I also "dare to recommend a Polish rutabaga vodka, if you can find one (even in Poland).
  • Our German friend states, approximately, that "it is a long-established fact that rutabaga powder, when spread under the arms and in the navel, disinfects these microbe-prone areas and makes them smell fresher." I thanked him for the "fascinating information, which my navel and underarms (and spouse!)" would appreciate.
Thanks to visitors from all over the world for their contributions to The Rutabagan.

C.B. asks: Can an uncooked rutabaga serve as a heavy, blunt instrument?

The simple answer is: Yes. The use of rutabagas as "projectiles" or for "the Diffusion of Asphyxiating or Deleterious Gases" was specifically prohibited by the Hague Convention of 1899. I'd certainly be careful in handling uncooked rutabagas, and keep them away from children unless they're thoroughly mashed.

Under Oregon law, at least, an uncooked rutabaga could be certainly be defined as a "dangerous weapon," which means "any weapon, device, instrument, material or substance which under the circumstances in which it is used, attempted to be used or threatened to be used, is readily capable of causing death or serious physical injury" [ORS 161.015(2)].

The only real danger from rutabagas, however, arises during the process of preparation. Chopping the rutabaga for boiling is a special challenge that requires a sturdy helmet, thick goggles and (if available) body armor. ARSI recommends securing the peeled rutabaga in a firm vise and carefully applying a sharpened industrial-grade chainsaw. Pile drivers and pneumatic drills have been also used with some success, though the cost may be prohibitive. The key to success is: exercise great caution at all times!

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Rutablogger

Welcome to the new and improved Rutabagan, sponsored by the Advanced Rutabaga Studies Institute in Forest Grove, Oregon, Rutabaga Capital of the World since 1951. Please be sure to visit and comment upon our popular website, where you'll learn that December, 2006, has been declared National Rutabaga Month!

To get things started, here's our Letter of the Day:

C.J.: "My mother-in-law refers to rutabagas as "rutabagie" (or "rutabaggie," "rutabagy," or "rutabaggy"; I've never asked her to spell it). At first, this just made me bite my tongue and chuckle quietly inside at family gatherings. But after some research, making rutabaga plural by adding a "y" or "ie" ending seems to have come from northern
Europe somewhere. There is a reference to it in "The Roxburghshire Word-Book" by George Watson, but one needs a membership to JSTOR ( to look at this online. Any idea where this all started?"

Thanks for your interesting query, C.J. The ultimate source on such etymological questions is the indefatigable Finnish rutascholar Hannu Ahok, who claims that the rutabaga resulted from the hybridization of turnips and cabbages by Finnish farmers. He states that Finnish immigrants "probably brought rutabagas to
Sweden" after 1530. One of the three Finnish names for the rutabaga was raatikka, but the singular noun rotabagge first appeared in 1766 in the local dialect of West Gothia, Sweden. Rota means "root" and bagge means "ram" (as in "driven into the land" or possibly "ram's testicle"). So your mother-in-law's pronunciation may have evolved directly from the Swedish bagge, in which the final "e" could be rendered as the English -ie or -y. (Does she have any Swedish ancestry?)

Finnish immigrants to
New Sweden (now Delaware) evidently brought the rutabaga to North America in the 17th century, when it was also introduced in western Europe and Siberia.

Source: On the Evolution, Spread and Names of Rutabaga, by Hannu Ahokas, Interdisciplnary Biology, Agriculture, Linguistics and Antiquities 1:1-32 (2004).

[Please note that many ARSI rutabotanists are now convinced that the turnip and cabbage are hybridized variations of the rutabaga, rather than the reverse.]