It’s Friday

Published 12:30 pm Friday, March 16, 2018

Memories made of radishes from grand’s garden

One of my favorite cross-stitched projects was a sampler entitled “Grandmother’s Soup.” I had it framed and it hung for years in my other house.  It depicted a recipe in the middle with vegetables all around. What I loved the most about it was the bunch of radishes, though not an ingredient in the soup, they just seemed to stand out. The reds and greens of the radishes were so pretty. So far, I’ve not found a wall space to hang my radish sampler in Tennessee.
Another favorite memory is eating radishes straight out of my grandfather’s Holly Springs vegetable garden.  Sometimes I’d have a leftover biscuit to go with them. Those flavors were what memories are made of.  Maybe that’s why I love those stitched radishes.
Radishes are crunchy. My mother once told me I had a healthy “crunch” meaning I was crunching too loudly to be polite, so I learned to tone it down, but not my love for things that go “caa-rrrunch”.  If you’ve been drooling over pictures in seed catalogs and dreaming of warmer days and gardening, you will know that radishes come in many colors… red, purple, white, pale green, watermelon pink, even black; distinct shapes… round or globular, oval, and elongated; a range of sizes… from ½ inch in diameter to a whopping 1 ½ feet in length; and tastes…peppery, sweet, mild, strong, pickled, and hot.  The variety we normally find in the local produce department is the globular, the oval shaped red radish.
Crunch a bunch!  And they’re ready to eat straight out of ground, unless you want to knock the dirt off first. Radish is Latin for “root,” it’s an edible root and comes from the mustard family.  A good soak in ice water will make them even crunchier. The attached greens are edible too, as long as they are nice, green and crisp.  My mother would keep a small bowl of radishes in ice water in her refrigerator for snacking or to eat with a sandwich.  (Nutrition note:  crunching is healthy, it’s more satisfying than eating soft processed foods, because it takes longer to eat raw veggies that need crunching and chewing, helping you to eat less! That’s mindful eating.)
The wonderful radish.  Oh yes, they are pretty sliced and tossed in a leafy green salad or on a vegetable tray as a vehicle for ranch dip.  But even better, they’re pretty on the skinny too… with almost no calories, no fat, a good dose of vitamin C, potassium, folate, and full of hydrating water. And their pretty rich colors indicate that they might just keep you well.   Antioxidants found in intensely colorful foods, like radishes, may help decrease inflammation and help prevent heart disease and some cancers.
And you can cook them too! Cooking softens radishes similar to carrots and turnips and tends to make them sweeter, less spicy, and not so crunchy.  Consider radishes sautéed, steamed, roasted, tossed in stir-fries, even grilled. Think beyond salads, vegetable trays, and garnishes.
You can purchase these beauties fresh year-round.  Pick those that look fresh, firm, and colorful, but not if faded, soft, or cracked.  Keep them in the refrigerator; trim the green tops to about an inch from the stem and don’t wash them until right before using.  And soak them in ice water for extra crispiness.
So if you have a spot, plant some seeds and wait on your own farm fresh harvest of crunch. Just be polite.

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