Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


If you've read much here you may already be aware. Me and my people are wordy. In every sense of the term.

Heck, even our cat uses a dictionary to bird watch through the window.

My wordiness was not entirely by choice. I was raised by a university professor/[unpublished] novelist and a registered nurse. My mother spent only slightly more time reading and working word puzzles than she did writing for various nonprofit venues.My father spent every spare moment in his study, reading and writing to prepare for classes or alternately, working on his version of the great American novel.

I was steeped in reading and writing from the get go. No shock then I grew up a reader. Fascinated by words, when I ran across anything unfamiliar, I would ask whichever parent was close by for help with a definition.

And it never failed.

Me: Mom, what does "ubiquitous" mean?
My Mom: Look it up for yourself. You know where the dictionary is.
Me: Mom, I will. But I'm in the middle of reading something and I don't want to stop. Could you just tell me what it means and I'll look it up later.
My Mom: No you won't.
Me: Mom, I will!
My Mom: OK. Read it to me in the sentence.
I would heave a dramatic sigh, roll my eyes surreptitiously and read her the sentence, only to hear:
My Mom: Good. Now look it up!

Back then "looking it up" meant a trip to the dictionary on my Dad's desk. It was a behemoth, a Webster's unabridged. It had been an anniversary surprise from my Mom to my Dad some years earlier. And that sums it up pretty well I guess, that a huge dictionary was one of my father's most treasured gifts from my mother.

Somehow when I was a parent rather than relieve my own children from the burdens of my obviously tortured beginnings I rather morphed into a version of my own parents. (HOW does that happen!?). Whenever my kids absent mindedly asked my husband or I the meaning of a word (or how to spell it), they would inevitably hear the same reply. "Go look it up for for yourself."

As I grew I developed a reliance on the precision of a dictionary definition to get me properly oriented when considering a topic to write about or simply mulling something over. Without a dictionary to guide me it was disconcerting to discover how often I'd layered a word with unwarranted content in the instances in which I would stubbornly define an unfamiliar term from its context rather than making that quick trip to the reference book.

And now there is the interweb. It has not replaced the dictionary certainly, but it has expanded my tendencies to seek reference materials for any foray into new territory. Which is what happened recently with, of all things, the radish.

Oh the radish. I have a long term happy relationship with this common garden plant. My mother loved radishes and we had them on hand nearly year round. As a child I grew to appreciate their crisp peppery taste, preferring them trimmed and salted.

As a young adult, my father in law grew not only the first, but the best icicle radishes I've ever eaten in his amazing garden. I tried to grow radishes in my own gardens over the years in Utah, California, and finally in Texas, with mixed results.From Webster's New Unabridged Dictionary, Deluxe Second Edition, Dorset and Baber 1979

n,[Fr. radis, from L. radix, a root.]

1. a plant of the genus
Raphanus, particularly Raphanus sativus, a common garden plant with an edible red or white root.

2. the pungent root, eaten raw as a relish or in a salad

Store bought or garden fresh, there was only that one way I'd eaten every single radish in my lifetime. "Raw as a relish or in a salad".

Until last week that is. I'd been reading about roasted radishes and once they caught my interest, as these things go, it seemed recipes for roasted radishes were cropping up everywhere. When I spotted the stacks of organic radishes at Wheatsville Coop recently, I knew it was time to finally expand my radish repertoire.

So I turned to the internet and discovered this great recipe courtesy of Kalyn's Kitchen, for Roasted Radishes with Soy Sauce and Toasted Sesame Seed.

To follow is the the recipe almost as featured on Kalyn's wonderful site, but I urge you to make your own visit to the source. Kalyn's blog is ostensibly about eating well using the South Beach Diet, but you won't need to be on any particular diet to appreciate her recipes. Her photos of the process and finished product will not be improved upon by me certainly, and this great radish recipe is only one of dozens you'll want to try.

Kalyn's Roasted Radishes with Soy Sauce and Toasted Sesame Seed
(Makes 3-4 servings, recipe only slightly adapted from Vegetables Every Day by Jack Bishop.)

20 medium radishes, trimmed and cut into fourths (use all red, or a mixture of red and white) {I used all red}
1 1/2 T roasted peanut oil {I only had grapeseed oil but that has a high temperature tolerance, so worked fine in the oven}
1-2 T soy sauce (I used about 1 1/2 T) {so did I}
2 green onions (scallions) sliced thin
1 T sesame seeds, toasted in a dry pan {I got in a hurry - didn't toast my sesame seeds just sprinkled them on - still delish!}

Preheat oven to 425 F. Wash radishes, trim ends, peel if needed, and cut into same size pieces. I cut the white icicle radishes into diagonal pieces, and the red ones into half or fourths, depending on how big they were. Cut green onions into thin slices.

Toss radishes with peanut oil, then roast about 20 minutes, stirring one or two times. When radishes are tender and starting to brown, remove from oven, toss with soy sauce to coat and mix in green onion slices. Put back in oven and roast about 5 minutes more.

During final five minutes roasting time, put the sesame seed in a dry pan and toast over hot stove for about 2 minutes, or until starting to brown. Remove radishes from oven, place in serving bowl and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Serve hot.

Now consider yourself poked, prodded, encouraged to get out there and try roasted radishes, whether or not you like them raw. Once roasted, eating radishes is a whole other enterprise. Slightly sweet with a great texture totally unlike their raw crispiness, roasted radishes are a wonderful, and for us, novel side dish.

Taking into account their low calorie count and glycemic status, radishes are perhaps just the right accoutrement to those eaters resolved to spend 2010 eating light. And fortunately, they are delicious. Satisfying. And now? Versatile as well.

So there you have it. With roasted radishes tasting this good, it is inevitable. Eventually the dictionary people will have to amend their definition to "often eaten raw, or roasted". You read it here first, folks.

OK now we got the culinary obligations duly disposed of how about a little wordy fun? What is the last word you recall having to look up in a dictionary? Online or in a book, either way. For me it was "pulchritude". It was what I thought it was, but honestly, until I looked it up I couldn't be sure.

Oh wait - you don't know for sure what "pulchritude" means? Well then, LOOK IT UP!


Kathleen Scott said...

Yea! I've been waiting for your next post. I learn something every time. Would never have thought of roasting radishes. Denny won't eat them...but that's raw and maybe he'll eat them roasted, on the same principle as not liking cabbage but loving sauteed cabbage and onions.

Thanks for your comments at Hill Country Mysteries. It's nice to have an almost-neighbor blog-friend. We have so many things in common.

I was sorry to hear about your deer-agapanthus debacle! The references say agapanthus is deer resistant and my six plants haven't been touched. Maybe because of the plants around them?

Look forward to more of your good food.

PS The cat wanted to know about libenthenite???

PassivePastry said...

i enjoyed this post. :)
my boy grew radishes in his garden, only none of us really liked them or knew what to do with them so we ended up just feeding the greens to Ms. Hunny Bunny.

I'm looking up words all the time, but making up werds more of the time.

TexasDeb said...

Kathleen - it has been fun with you as a regular visitor here as well. Thanks for your kind words.

The agapanthus was a singleton experiment but I put it out at a time when there were loads of young deer eating in the area. They will try any/everything I suppose.

Libenthinite? Now I'm heading for the dictionary.

PPastry-Doctors have a diagnostic term for people who make up too many new words... : ) My garden attempts were none too successful - radishes require more water than I'll use I think.

Y'all DO try the radishes roasted on your non-radish appreciators. Whole different radish universe comes into being once roasted.

Kathleen Scott said...

I loved the cat pic & clicked on it to see what the cat was reading...page headed libenthenite. My cats aren't that literate.

TexasDeb said...

KS: Are you so sure about your cats? I'm fairly certain ours have been online ordering stuff when we are out...

And wow - how unobservant of me in terms of my own cat's dictionarial pursuits. Familiarity......

deb said...

Just saying hello, another deb.
I've "seen" you at the Sister Project, and more recently at Kathleen Scott's blog, so I'm just here to look around.
I adore Kathleen , so ....

texasdeb said...

deb: Welcome! I share your admiration of/for both sites - hope you find something you enjoy and that I'll see you back soon.

Kathleen Scott said...

Hi Deb,
Just read your comment about Shrimp Heaven on Hill Country Mysteries. I was tickled about your wine suggestion. Never heard of Txakolina, much less tasted it but it sounds interesting. Where do you go to find it?

TexasDeb said...

KS: We usually get Txakolina from our closest Twin Liquors but I am fairly sure some of the Central Market wine sections carry one. Try one and let me know!

Marion Roach Smith said...

This is one of those rare food things for which I can imagine the taste as I'm reading the recipe, and it seems brilliant and delicious. Thank you. I am totally smitten with the idea and will get some radishes tomorrow and roast on.

TexasDeb said...

Marion, it is an honor to have you drop by. I have no doubts you will never regret the decision to roast those radishes. Fire up the ovens!