Friday, November 16, 2007

Yet another LAF

The Lazy-Assed Finns (LAF) Association recently expanded its membership by 20% with the birth of Elsa Matilda Ackley-oo (pictured left with sister Ida, also known as The Dudette).

Elsa was born on November 5, 2007. She weighed in at a robust 3,490 grams and extended a full 50 cm. Though Elsa was born at 0700 FPDT (Finnish Perpetual Darkness Time), it is reported that she slept until noon.

We here at ARSI extend hearty congratulations to her proud parents and grandparents, all of whom are charter members of LAF.

With the addition of Elsa to the Finnish population, that country has virtually doubled its birth rate for 2007. Considering that Finns are among the laziest people who infest the planet, this is an especially impressive feat on the part of the parents. The production of children, after all, can require significant efforts from conception through birth and far beyond. Sadly, few modern Finns are prepared to expend that much energy.

Fortunately for Elsa, as well as her sister Ida and her mother Hanna, the new arrival bears no resemblance to Immu Ackely-oo, her simian father (left).

courtesy Immu and Hanna Ackley-oo.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

ARSI's First HQ: National Historic Monument?

The Board of Directors of the Advanced Rutabaga Studies Institute is pleased to announce that our first corporate headquarters near Forest Grove will soon be nominated for the National Register of Historic Places. This designation will mark the beginning of a $1.2 million fundraising drive to purchase and renovate this historic property, which has been sadly neglected since it was partly consumed by a fire of suspicious origins back in 1977.

ARSI's headquarters was originally homesteaded by Aloysius P. Weatherspoon, Founder Obie MacAroon's great-grandfather, in 1878. MacAroon relocated to the farm and founded ARSI in 1954 after soil analysis revealed that the Forest Grove location offered ideal conditions for rutabaga cultivation.

As stated on Our Founder's home page:
"MacAroon was born on June 16, 1904, at the family homestead near Trout Lake, Washington. As a child of five, he began to explore the intricate world of horticulture in the rutabaga patch adjoining his humble one-room cabin. Entirely self-educated, he went on to conduct experiments in rutabaga hybridization that attracted the attention of several neighboring farmers.

"After an unsuccessful attempt to persuade the Pentagon to add rutabagas to C-Rations during World War II, he moved to Forest Grove, Oregon, and planted his first commercial rutabaga crop in 1951. After three years of successful harvests, he founded the Advanced Rutabaga Studies Institute in 1954."

Though the arsonists who set fire to the farmhouse were never charged, investigators suspected that the turnipite cabal was directly involved. Our Founder turned necessity to advantage when ARSI's state-of-the-art laboratory complex opened in 1986.

Major gifting opportunities will soon be available for wealthy benefactors who wish to support ARSI's purchase and renovation of the historic Weatherspoon homestead. As the top photos (click to enlarge) reveal, the structure was extensively damaged and will require major repairs. The $1.2 million campaign will also enable ARSI to purchase the adjacent 360 acres (left) and dedicate them to rutabaga cultivation once again.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Mashed rutabagas: Good for a LAF

Last week the international Lazy-Assed Finns (LAF) Fest (formerly "Festival") came to Portland for its annual meeting. ARSI is pleased to announce that LAF has declared mashed rutabagas its "Recipe of the Year" because, in the words of LAF President for Life Immu (formerly "Ilmari") Ackley-oo, "you don't have to chew it."

Attendance at the conference was limited to three LAF's, probably due to the distance from Finland and the inherent slothfulness of the membership. "At first we were planning to go to Los Angeles," said Ackley-oo, "but we decided it was way too far for our members. We're a bit disappointed, but luckily we know a lot of kindred spirits in Oregon."

Hanna Ackley-oo, Vice President for Life, announced that next year's LAF Fest will be held in the lobby of the Helsinki airport terminal so the LAF's won't have to walk unreasonable distances from their flights. She's confident that attendance will improve.

For Ida Ackley-oo, President of LAF's growing Youth Affiliate, it was her first visit to the USA. Ida was originally named "Private Idaho" Ackley-oo, after the Gus Van Sant film, but it was shortened to "Ida" by her parents because her full name was "three syllables too long" to easily pronounce.

In that spirit, Ida called one of her Oregonian hosts "Dude!" even though his full nickname is "El Duderino." In the grand tradition of LAF, Ida is definitely into the brevity thing. She found Portland's freedom fries, and especially the vintage ketchup offerings, to be "world class."

LAF members travelled to Mt. Hood's Timberline Lodge and sat in their room for two days, followed by several days in a Portland hotel room. Then they went to Gearhart on the Oregon coast and lounged in another room, staring at the wind. For the final days of their trip, they sat in a hotel room in Tigard.

As the LAF Fest neared its end, Vice President Hanna Ackley-oo was pleased to announce that she and her LAF companions recorded an average of just 200 calories per day of effort "beyond basic metabolism," well below their goal of 300 calories. However, President Immu Ackley-oo noted that the mysterious El Duderino logged a mere 50 calories of nonmetabolic effort each day during the LAF Fest. Immu described his friend, with a hint of envy, as "quite possibly the laziest man in Oregon, which puts him in the running for the laziest worldwide."

To all LAF members, who will be enjoying regular servings of mashed rutabagas during the coming year, we wish you "Bon Appétit!"


PHOTO #1 (top): LAF President for Life Immu Ackley-oo after being told that he would have to walk nearly 100 meters to his car.

PHOTO #2 (middle): LAF Youth Affiliate President Ida Ackley-oo wondering why adults aren't pushed around in strollers like she is.

PHOTO #3 (bottom): A rare photo of LAF Vice President for Life Hanna Ackley-oo caught in the process of actually moving.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Pureed rutabaga additive for pet foods (experimental)

Due to mounting concerns about the quality of pet food in the U.S., ARSI has been developing an experimental recipe for pureed rutabagas that can be safely added to any pet-food blends that remain on the market. ARSI hopes that these experiments will eventually open vast new markets for rutabaga farmers.

In our experiments to date, rutabagas must be pureed because laboratory trials suggest that dogs and cats find traditional mashed rutabagas too coarse for their taste. However, the extreme macromolecular density of rutabagas presents serious challenges to creating purees. The following experimental recipe has shown some promise in reducing preparation times for a pureed rutabaga additive to pet food.

Pureed Rutabaga Pet Food Additive
Experimental recipe #ARSI-9 - 26Z48
[Not suitable for human or animal consumption.]

Important: Increase cooking times by 30% at altitudes over 3,000 feet. As a precaution, safety goggles and body armor are highly recommended during every phase of preparation.

[Note: Mixed with gray food coloring, pureed rutabagas also serve
as a reliable substitute for mortar in various masonry applications.]

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Caterpillar devours rutabaga greens

Caterpillars also have a genetic craving for rutabagas, as demonstrated by this experiment. Note the accumulation of feces on the bottom of the jar.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Genetic appetite for rutabagas

Is there a gene that creates a craving for rutabagas in humans? A major study on the rutabaga gene in fruit flies (Drosophila pax) suggests that may indeed be the case:

"[R]utabaga encodes a calmodulin dependent adenyl cyclase that converts ATP to cyclic AMP. cAMP is a major signal transducer of the cell, and its creation and destruction is involved in just about every response of the cell to environmental changes. Calmodulin is a protein that binds the Ca++ ion, sensing its cellular concentration and interacting with the rutabaga encoded adenyl cyclase to activate adenyl cyclase mediated enzymatic conversion of ATP into cAMP." From The Interactive Fly © 1995, 1996 Thomas B. Brody, Ph.D.

Rutabaga-encoded adenyle cyclase has also been mapped in the human genome, so the same lust for rutabagas may occur in people, as suggested by ARSI's empirical data. Stay tuned for more information from our labs about this exciting area of scientific inquiry, which led to a Nobel Prize in 1995.

PHOTO: A fruit fly sips rutabaga nectar in an ARSI experiment.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Rotmos recipe - Swedish mashed rutabagas

With a special tip of the hat to our friend Inger, a rutabagan from Sweden.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Tuo on paskapuhette

In the "Finnish Journal of Ethnobotanical Studies" for April, University of Jyväskylä Professor Vittu Perkele Jumalauta suggests that preliterate rutabaga cults may have contributed significantly to early oral versions of "The Kalevala," the Finnish national epic poem (first published in 1835).

Professor Jumalauta provocatively concludes: "Tuo on paskapuhette! Seuraavan tulosopimuksen tekoon potkaistiin varovasti alkuvauhtia maanantaina, kun hallitus ja työmarkkinoiden keskusjärjestöt sopivat aloittavansa yhteisen pohjustavan valmistelutyön sopimusta varten. Työmarkkinajohtajien ja pääministeri Paavo Lipposen (sd) tapaamisessa ei selvinnyt, ovatko järjestöt valmiit käymään sopimusneuvottelut hyvissä ajoin ennen vuodenvaihdetta" [pp. 514-15]

Hannu Ahokas, the great Finnish ethnobotanist, elaborates: "
Tutkimusassistenttina ja vanhempana tutkijana sekä kasvigenetiikan dosenttina vuodesta alkaen. Nykyisin hän toimii kasvinjalostustutkimuksessa Maa- ja elintarviketalouden tutkimuskeskuksessa Jokioisissa. Viimeisimmistä julkaisuista esimerkkeinä proteiinikemian metodinen julkaisu sekä monitieteelliset artikkelit, jotka käsittelevät muinaissuomalaisten kansojen kasvinviljelyä ja Kymijoen vesien purkautumisen historiaa Salpausselän yli."

GRAPHIC: Ilmari (or "Ilmarinen"), a character from the Kalevala, sowing rutabaga seeds.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The nutritional leader

The busy laboratories of the American Root Farmers Federation (ARFF) have confirmed the findings on the nutritional content of certain root vegetables previously reported in The Complete Book of Vitamins and Minerals for Health, published by Prevention magazine. And once again, the rutabaga triumphs easily over its competitors. The specifics follow:
VITAMIN C [mg. per 1/2-oz. serving]:
18.60 - Rutabaga
06.45 - potato
04.68 - beet
09.05 - turnip

CALCIUM [mg. per 1/2 oz. serving]
36.00 - Rutabaga
27.00 - potato
09.00 - beet
17.15 - turnip
ARSI studies have also found that the rutabaga is rich in a multitude of trace elements that don't naturally occur among its competitors, including: proactinium, osmium, unilloctium, strontium, dysprosium, antimony, praseodymium, gadolinium and yterrbium. The lanthanide and actinide series are abundantly represented as well
DISCLAIMER: ARSI neither warrants nor implies any health benefits arising from the presence of trace elements, actinides or lanthanides in rutabaga.
Here's some additional nutritional data for 100 grams or 3.5 oz. of rutabaga, as compiled by the good folks at Vegetarians in Paradise in their article Rutabagas - An Uncommon Treat:

Nutrient Cooked Raw
Calories 39 36
Protein 1.3 g 1.2 g
Total Fat .6 g .6 g
% Calories from fat 5.1% 5.0%
Carbohydrates 8.7 g 8.1 g
Fiber 1.8 g 2.5 g

Sunday, March 04, 2007

A cutting issue

Vexing technical problems continue to hamper efforts to increase the appeal and marketability of the rutabaga. As every recipe demonstrates, the extreme macromolecular densities and mass of the rutabaga guarantee excessive and impractical cooking times for all but the most dedicated rutabagans. However, ARSI's laboratories have taken an innovative look at the problem, resulting in several potential solutions:

  • A 24,000-watt microwave oven may reduce cooking times to 96 hours for a 2-pound rutabaga;
  • An ionic oven, under development at CalTech, could reduce baking time to 16.8 hours;
  • Trial "cooking" sessions using the neutron accelerator at Karnac, Illinois, have miraculously reduced cooking times to 8.4 hours.

The latter method, while most efficient, consumes vast amounts of electricity and can produce catastrophic submolecular degradation [i.e., an explosion] if slight "overcooking" occurs. It therefore seems unlikely to produce a short-term solution.

Extended cooking times are only one of many factors which inhibit consumer acceptance of the rutabaga. ARSI studies have shown that cooking times can be reduced (up to 25%) by cutting rutabagas into very small pieces. However, the extreme hardness of the product renders the process of slicing and dicing very laborious and frustrating. With this in mind, ARSI continues its laboratory trials with industrial-grade wood chippers, whose conventional grinding gears are worn out far too quickly to provide a practical means of preparing rutabagas for cooking. A stainless-steel gear with diamond-studded teeth and a titanium core has been fairly effective, but the cost remains prohibitively high. Researchers are now evaluating miniaturized versions of Boreregard, the rock boring machine recently used to construct a light-rail tunnel in Oregon

PHOTO: A modified Hiroller 1250 wood chipper with diamond-studded teeth and a titanium core, approved by ARSI in 2006 for use in cutting rutabagas. A much smaller and more economical version, suitable for use in kitchens, is currently under development.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Marketing the Rutabaga

ARSI President Obie MacAroon III has directed your organization to prepare a major spring drive to promote rutabaga consumption.

ARSI's most recent market survey discloses that, despite the strong nutritional values of our product, the American public remains woefully unaware of the true virtues of the rutabaga. The latest statistics for market share (January, 2007) of the Big Five reveal the following:

  • Percentage of U.S. Market - Big Five root vegetables/tubers

    Potato.......................99.94843 %
    Sweet potato.................00.00766

  • Miscellaneous roots and tubers (beetroots, yams, parsnips, celeriacs, kohlrabi, salsify, scorzonera, skirret, chervils, rampions and scolymus) occupy the remainder of the root market. [Note: The carrot and radish were excluded because they fill a different market niche.]

The Sad Reality: The market share of rutabagas, after reaching a historic peak in 1933, is lower than at any time in modern history. This crisis will be addressed aggressively by your organization with a consumer-education strategy. Its first goal is to implement the "Bury the Turnip" campaign, now under development. This program will allow the rutabaga to finally overtake and eliminate the turnip, our traditional rival. Stay tuned for further details as this exciting campaign gets underway.

Monday, February 19, 2007

UPDATE: Asteroid Apophis approaches

As noted in The Rutabagan just two days ago, a draft UN treaty has been completed to facilitate contingency planning for potential asteroid collisions with the earth. Today, ABC News reports that a likely candidate, asteroid Apophis, will pass very close to the earth in 2029 and again, even more closely, in 2036. Here are some excerpts from ABC's story :
"Circle your calendar. April 13th, 2036 could be a really, really bad day on planet Earth...

"Dr. Dan Barry, a retired astronaut, told ABC News, 'Even if the probability is low of an asteroid hitting Earth, if it has the potential to have a significant impact, then it has to be looked at. It is the absolutely responsible thing to do. In fact, it would be irresponsible not to do so.'

"Barry said more research is needed so that when a potentially dangerous asteroid is found, there is a plan in place. He said it is therefore important to start the search for asteroids now, to allow enough time to effectively deal with them.

"Scientists believe that if advance warnings of dangerous asteroids like Apophis can be made decades in advance, there will be enough time to try and knock them off course.

"Nobody knows for sure what it would take to push a massive asteroid off its course, but the theoretical possibilities include detonating weapons on an asteroid's surface or using gravitational pull to alter a possible collision course. But it could also break an asteroid into many pieces, all still headed toward Earth.

"Some scientists say a better option could be to launch a large satellite to rendezvous with an asteroid. The mass of the satellite alone could produce enough gravitational pull to change the asteroid's course. [ARSI's emphasis.] Another suggestion is to crash a spacecraft into an asteroid in the hopes of changing its direction.

"'Done far enough away, only a small deflection would be needed and it is kept in one piece,' said Barry...

"So, while astronauts blowing up an asteroid may be movie fiction for now, scientists are already thinking about how to save Earth from a massive asteroid possibly on its way."

Scientists estimate that there are 200,000 to 400,000 large "celestial objects" that could "come within range of our home planet."

As reported here on Saturday, ARSI physicists are already creating a plan to launch a giant rutabaga whose gravity could deflect an asteroid's course. Alternatively, the rutabaga could be used as a missile to obliterate the asteroid.

Another intriguing alternative involves assembling a "cluster" of 100,000 ordinary rutabagas, with a total mass of 150 tons (140,000 kg), in lunar orbit. The rutabagas would be tightly held together by a giant fishing net, then launched toward asteroid Apophis. This interplanetary "barge" could be towed into close proximity of the asteroid, where it would be able to exert enough gravitational tug to deflect its course.

Numerous questions still have to be resolved. For example, physicists are now trying to determine whether such a large mass of rutabagas in lunar orbit would pose any risk of deforming the moon's course around the earth.

Maybe it's time for a Department of Home Planet Security.


Saturday, February 17, 2007

Interplanetary mission for rutabagas

The BBC reports that a "draft UN treaty" will prepare the way for a contingency plan to deal with potential collisions between the earth and giant asteroids. As required by Congress some years ago, NASA has been monitoring 127 "near-earth objects" that pose a risk of entering the earth's atmosphere. The final treaty should be ready for approval by 2009. The draft treaty is the result of intense lobbying by the Association of Space Explorers.

ARSI is already preparing to bid on the lucrative government contracts that the treaty will inevitably produce. So far, ARSI physicists have found two possible applications of the rutabaga to the asteroid defense program:

  • The extreme macromolecular densities of conventional rutabagas—not to mention genetically-modified hybrids—could offer a major advantage in the intense competition that is sure to come. ARSI physicists estimate that a single rutabaga weighing 1,200 kg/2,640 lbs could generate enough gravitational force (as documented on our website) to deflect an asteroid from a collision course, especially if the rutabaga interception occurs far from earth.
  • Used as a projectile, a genetically-modified rutabaga could disintegrate an asteroid up to 4 cubic km. in size. A large rutabaga launched at a speed of 25 km or 15 miles per second could generate forces equal to a 1 megaton nuclear explosion.
International recognition of the asteroid threat is long overdue. According to the BBC, NASA "estimates that there are about 20,000 potentially threatening asteroids yet to be discovered. 'This has gone from being an esoteric statistical argument to talking about real events,' added Dr David Morrison, an astronomer at the Nasa's Ames Research Center."

Rest assured that your organization is poised to exploit this opportunity to serve humankind in an unprecedented international endeavor.

GRAPHIC: Don Davis, NASA [Note: The object hitting the earth is an asteroid, not a giant rutabaga.]

Around the web

The Los Angeles Times reports that a 75.75 pound Alaskan rutabaga has taken the title of the world's largest rutabaga in the "Heaviest Fruit and Vegetables" category of the Guinness World Records book. [NOTE: Last year, in a controversial decision, the Guiness judges refused to accept a 378.22 pound rutabaga grown in ARSI's experimental labs on the ground that it was "genetically engineered."]

Staff writer Walter Nicholls of the Washington Post, in an article headlined Chefs Transform the Unlovable Rutabaga, notes that "the rutabaga is having a moment in the spotlight." Upscale restaurants are now serving rutabagas with lobster, shrimp stew and "creamy rutabaga soup laced with maple syrup and seasoned with cayenne pepper." Nicholls mentions ARSI's sustained efforts to rehabilitate the rutabaga, but only in passing.

Meanwhile, North Dakota Public Radio's Plains Folk, raises doubts about the credibility of Forest Grove's claim to be the "Rutabaga Capital of the World Since 1951." A hint of envy here, perhaps?

GRAPHIC: John Evans of Palmer, Alaska, with one of his giant rutabagas. He and Mary Evans, his spouse, have accumulated a vast number of prizes for the quantity and quality of their giant vegetable crops.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Nanotechnology discovers the rutabaga

Can you imagine a car composed of 25% rutabaga fiber? This prospect is the subject of serious research in nanotechnology at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Forestry. In an interview in the Toronto Daily Mail, Professor Mohini Sain states that "biocomposites" from processed plant fibers may be used in many industrial applications, including auto manufacturing, within five years. Sain states:
"When I put natural fibre in, I take out glass fibre and synthetic plastics. It reduces the consumption of crude oil... In another very exciting area of nanotechnology, we are working on developing commercially viable technology to obtain nano-cellulose fibres from wood fibre, agro-fibre and root fibres (such as rutabaga). We have already demonstrated the excellent performance of these fibres when they are added in a plastic as reinforcement."

Cruciferian Website of the Day

Thanks to our friends at Endless Harvestan organic food delivery service in Ymir, British Columbiafor devoting much of their latest newsletter to the noble rutabaga. They were also kind enough to spread the word about ARSI's internationally-famous recipe for mashed rutabagas. EH's website offers a number of useful links for producers and consumers of organic vegetables, including recommendations on storage. It's gratifying to see that EH and its customers in the stunning Kootenay country are on the cutting edge, so to speak, of the contemporary cruciferian lifestyle.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A response from Mr. Keillor

ARSI staff was pleased, and a bit surprised, to receive an immediate response to our invitation to Garrison Keillor and Prairie Home Companion to visit our headquarters in Forest Grove. Here, verbatim, is a portion of the email that we received last night:

"Thanks for your interest in a touring broadcast of A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION.

"When A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION goes on tour, we usually do so in partnership with the local public radio station that carries our show, at their invitation. We only do a few tour dates each season, and we have over 580 public radio stations that carry the program. Competition for a spot on our touring calendar is very keen. It is likely that your public radio station is aware of this, and has already made an application for a tour visit. We receive many applications each year.

"There are some important responsibilities that are assigned to the station that invites us to their community: they must rent an appropriate theater and its equipment; they must cover local stagehand costs, provide local accommodations for our company (up to 75 room nights), and provide local transportation and catering. Due to the expenses incurred on both sides, and also to provide enough seats people to see the show, we recommend a hall that seats a minimum of 2500 people. We find that, even with that size hall, stations must carefully analyze the expenses and their ability to undertake an event of this size. Because the costs for these local expenses (theater rental, stagehands, and hotel rooms) vary from location to location, there is no set fee that we can quote for an appearance. We arrange a formula to share the ticket sale income with the sponsoring station, and we do find that the event sells out in every community that we visit.

"If you would like to pursue this further, or are a part of an organization that might like to underwrite a tour visit, please be in touch with your local public radio station. Thanks again for your interest in A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION. Thanks and keep listening."

No doubt a personal message from Mr. Keillor to President Obie MacAroon is soon to follow. We're already looking forward to working with Oregon Public Broadcasting to arrange PHC's inevitable visit to ARSI.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Quote of the Month

"The meaning of life is a rutabaga..."
Garrison Keillor, Prairie Home Companion (February 3, 2007)
In an earlier show (December 31, 2005), Mr. Keillor showed an appreciation of the rutabaga that we at ARSI deeply appreciated (especially his dissing of the turnip), but he also referred to a shadowy organization that either never existed, unfortunately, or has ceased to exist. Here is the text of his comments:
"Garrison Keillor: ...brought to you by RCA, the Rutabaga Council of America, representing America's most under-appreciated vegetable, rutabagas.

"So many people confuse rutabagas with turnips. They're not alike at all. Rutabagas have a pleasant yellow-orange color, large friendly-looking leaves, and a smooth dense texture. Turnips are fish-belly white and purple on top like a bad bruise and have hairy leaves and taste brackish, like swamp water. Rutabagas are the root crop that any sensible person would prefer.

"Rutabaga — it's suitable for any occasion. Rutabagas' firm yet impetuous flavor go well with Bordeauxs, Chablis, or even champagne. Use julienned rutabagas to clear the palate before dessert. Stir-fried rutabagas can bulk up any Chinese dish. Or how about rutabaga ratatouille. And instead of an olive in your Martini, why not try a rutabaga wedge.

"Rutabaga— it's America's under-utilized vegetable."
Nicely stated! As for the mysterious RCA, its leadership never contacted Obie MacAroon or anyone at ARSI, so we harbor a certain skepticism about its very existence.


Recognizing a fellow rutabagan when he sees one, President Obie MacAroon III authorized the following invitation to Mr. Keillor and Prairie Home Companion:
Your devoted fans at the Advanced Rutabaga Studies Institute (ARSI) noted with great pleasure your recent declaration that "life is a rutabaga," and we couldn't agree more. In that spirit, we are delighted to inform you that February has been declared "National Rutabaga Month."

To promote deeper public appreciation of the rutabaga, we invite you to bring your show to Forest Grove, Oregon, the Rutabaga Capital of the World since 1951. ARSI's International Headquarters is located just 22 miles west of Portland in one of the oldest and grandest towns in Oregon. Forest Grove is also the home of Pacific University, the oldest university west of the Mississippi.

Our growing staff of ARSI rutabagans and rutabotanists has been delighted by your continuing efforts to raise awareness of this lowly root vegetable--and to expose the many deficiencies of the turnip, its rival for market share.

In your show on December 31, 2005, you piqued our interest with some astute comments on the virtues of the rutabaga and a reference to the "Rutabaga Council of America."

So whatever became of the RCA? Its leadership never contacted President Obie MacAroon III or anyone else at ARSI, nor did they apply for one of our generous Founder's Grants. Efforts by our researchers to locate the RCA have, so far, been fruitless. We would appreciate any leads that you or your staff may be able to provide.

I hope you will respond favorably to our invitation to come to Forest Grove. We would be honored to give you a tour of ARSI's vast laboratory complex and experimental rutabaga fields during your next visit to Oregon
Stay tuned for details on PHC's visit. Our staff will work closely with Mr. Keillor to arrange a memorable show in Forest Grove.

GRAPHIC "Rutabaga Mama," from Carruth Studios, the fine sculpture gallery of George Carruth

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Pushing the edge

Last November, with little fanfare, ARSI acquired 263 acres of logged-over land (left) in the foothills of the Coast Range near our headquarters in Forest Grove. In May, we'll be planting several experimental rutabaga varieties that we expect to thrive in northern latitudes under a global-warming regime. The conditions in our new fields will approximate those of northern Labrador or Quebec in about fifty years. ARSI rutabotanists project that a hundred million acres of cultivable lands will become available worldwide during that time. By developing new varieties of seed for planting in such once-marginal regions, we expect that the rutabaga will be poised to greatly increase its share of the global market for root vegetables.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Sláinte Mhath! Happy Burns Night!

On January 25th the Celtic tribes of Scotland celebrate Burns Night by gathering for the Burns Supper, all in honor of the 248th anniversary of the birth of the great Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759–1796). Burns distinguished himself not only by the quality of his work, but also by his willingness to write in the Scottish dialect. He preserved and disseminated a number of ancient Scottish and Celtic songs, including Auld Lang Syne, and played a major role in the preservation and expansion of that ancient culture.

The traditional Burns Supper consists of haggas, the Scottish national dish, and "bashed neeps" (mashed rutabagas) combined with a copious flow of whiskey and recitals of the master's poetry. The Selkirk Poem is the centerpiece of the readings, and especially these lines:
"Some hae meat and cannot eat.
Some cannot eat that want it:
But we hae meat and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit."
The recipe for mashed rutabagas is, of course, wildly popular and requires no elaboration (see below). Neeps have deep roots (no pun intended) in the Burns Supper tradition:
"NEEPS - or turnips, swedes or rutabaga, depending on where you are when you read this - is one of the traditional accompaniments to haggis on Burns Night.

"The neeps are normally served mashed - but on their own, not mashed in with the tatties. While most folk will simply mash the neeps unadorned, some will add butter or even some herbs.

"The story goes that neeps - or Brassica rapa - were introduced to Scotland by Patrick Miller, an entrepreneur and director of the Bank of Scotland, and the man who brought the threshing mill and drill plough to Scotland...

"King Gustav of Sweden supposedly sent the neep seeds to Miller: hence turnips are called "swedes" south of the Border." [The Scotsman, 1/25/07]

As for haggis:
"A haggis is actually a large spherical sausage made of the liver, heart, and lungs of a sheep, all chopped and mixed with beef or mutton suet and oatmeal and seasoned with onion, cayenne pepper, and other spices. The mixture is packed into a sheep's stomach and boiled. Haggis is usually accompanied by turnips [sic.] and mashed potatoes; Scotch whisky is customarily drunk with it.." [Note the familiar confusion of "turnips" and "rutabagas."]
No doubt the willingness of Scots to eat haggis is directly proportionate to their consumption of the "Scotch whisky that is customarily drunk with it." For whatever reason, haggis producers are reporting record sales, which we fervently hope will have a coattail effect on the worldwide market for rutabagas.


Friday, January 05, 2007

World's easiest recipe for mashed rutabagas

After six years of meticulous research, and by popular demand, ARSI is proud to present its innovative recipe for mashed rutabagas, a holiday favorite around the world for centuries. Be careful to observe precautions, as noted.

STEP 1: Chop rutabagas.
IMPORTANT PRECAUTIONS: A new or sharpened axe is adequate for this purpose, though (if available) a jackhammer or industrial-grade chainsaw will work best.
For your personal safety, it is advisable to wear a helmet, body armor and goggles as the chopping process can create flying shrapnel that may cause serious injury or property damage.

STEP 2: Boil, then boil some more, until softened.

IMPORTANT PRECAUTIONS: May require extra cooking time at higher altitudes. Add a large pinch of salt to shorten cooking time. In ARSI's experimental labs, some varieties of rutabaga were marinated and cooked up to 28 days in a special blend that included sulphuric acid and potash. Impractical as this sounds, the result was exceptionally tasty.

STEP 3: Mash with milk, then mix in butter and salt to taste. Especially good with cinnamon or nutmeg.
IMPORTANT PRECAUTIONS: To avoid injury or property damage, make sure that the rutabaga is adequately softened before attempting to mash. Use of a blender will impart a smoother texture to the dish, but be sure to have extra blades available due to excessive wear-and-tear during the mixing process.

STEP 4: Serve plain or add a crater for gravy.
NOTE: In the unlikely event of leftovers, fashion into rutaburgers and pan-fry or broil for a splendid treat. Clean dishes and pots immediately to avoid crystallization of rutabaga residues. If disposal of leftovers becomes necessary, contact the Department of Environmental Quality for recommended procedures.

Additional note: Leftover mashed rutabagas have proven useful for various masonry applications. Stay tuned for additional developments in this exciting area of rutastudies.