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The arugula situation and other non-problems

2015 April 30
by Rachel Turiel

5:43 pm: There is one red sock on the kitchen table. A slushy of ripe-smelling liquified elk brains warms in a pot on the stove (I overheard Dan explaining to a friend, cheerily, “Oh, they just tend to rot in the process.” Brains are essential for brain-tanning hides).

I am trying to pretend that the smell of putrefying animal parts isn’t hindering my dinner-making mojo. Col is nearing the final lap of the last Harry Potter book, leaving strange Tourette-like written spoilers around the house like this one I came across on a recent airplane drawing, “Fenrir Greyback is not a death eater.” Rose is DJ-ing via youtube, singing along heartily to Steely Dan’s Dirty Work, making me wonder if we should be encouraging, I don’t know, the Mary Poppins soundtrack.

When you need a bit of lovin’
Cause your man is out of town
That’s the time you get me runnin’
And you know I’ll be around

viola vallicola

Looks muddy because it’s been *raining!*

(Feel free to fall asleep for this paragraph) I stumbled upon an apparently uncommon violet on a hike in my backyard shale hills the other day, by the name of viola vallicola. The ultimate authority on Colorado Western Slope flora doesn’t list it as even being present in our county, and my favorite website for Southwest plants says: “This lovely miniature is not very common at all in the Four Corners area.” So, I’m appropriately nerdily excited and have a renewed belief in keeping ones eyes open for the unexpected. Dan and I have decided that when we retire, we’re devoting ourselves to monitoring various local plant populations. If Col and Rose want to visit, look for the ragged tarp in the arnica fields.

Also, we’re having a bit of an arugula situation.


Which is to say, all those sweet little October cold frame seedlings have become a towering, menacing forest of vitamin A, K and carotenoids, folate, anti-cancer compounds, yadda yadda. When I ask Dan if he’s been doing his part, he’s indoctrinated enough to ask, “How does arugula compare nutritionally to dandelion and lamb’s quarters?” (Also abundant these days).


The kids aren’t expected to eat arugula until they’re eleven, and Dan and I are doing our best. But, I need some help, so I can clear out those beds and put in tomatoes (inside walls of water and under greenhouse plastic because I’m a wild gambler). I’m offering up bags of washed arugula! Will consider any and all trades…watch the kids for an hour, homemade goodies, garden work, original love poems, hang a few flyers for my summer classes, teach Rose some appropriate song lyrics. Or, I don’t know, slap down four bucks. Really, help me out. You know how to get in touch with me.


The daily arugula salad:


Close up:


There’s nothing not to love, really, about all of it: the smell of elk brains, Rosie belting out mature lyrics, Col detonating Harry Potter spoilers, having too much of so many good things.



p.s If you want to see the violet, let me know. Blooming for another week or so.

p.p.s This is happening:


17 Responses leave one →
  1. Ellie permalink
    April 30, 2015

    Thank you for supplying me with my favorite read of the day, Rachel. Wish I could help out with the arugula. Would you consider shipping to the Bay Area? I’ll send you a five-year old belting out Sound of Music lyrics in exchange; you can have her for, say, a month or so.

  2. April 30, 2015

    not for the first time, i wish we lived in durango! rare violets! elk brains! having you teach my kiddos an awesome class!!! sigh. love it all.

  3. Karen permalink
    April 30, 2015

    Rachel, noticed an omission on your flyer — Tuesday class begins on July ?? (should this be 14th?) Not being persnickety at all, just thought you’d want to know!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      April 30, 2015

      Good eye, good eye. Yes, starts on July 14th and without recounting my technology woes, I am stuck with this flyer until a fairygodmother of computer documents rescues me. But I will be at the library on July 14th for the first class of the second session. :)

  4. Brenda permalink
    April 30, 2015

    the salad looks awesome, wish I lived closer….Aztec, not to far away…but! :) love the info about the violets…how beautiful…

  5. Becky permalink
    April 30, 2015

    dumb question of the day – why must you be 11 to eat arugula? it looks really pretty – does it taste bad?

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      April 30, 2015

      It’s very spicy. But Col and Rose’s cousin says he came around to arugula when he was eleven, so we’re hopeful.

  6. Andrea permalink
    April 30, 2015

    Why, exactly, would you give me permission to fall asleep during THE MOST EXCITING paragraph of this post?!

  7. Molly permalink
    May 1, 2015

    Rachel, is it ridiculous to think that you might use Venmo or Google Wallet? I know that’s silly, but thought it was worth a try. I have a poor memory, so paying for things like Arugula is best done in the moment, for me.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      May 1, 2015

      I do have paypal, but not too worried about it. Happy to disperse arugula through town. :)

  8. May 2, 2015

    Would love to trade something for arugula, but just realized I’m heading out of town next week. Dang. What could we trade? We make the same things. Fermented green chili salsa? I have a recipe for fermented sweet/tangy onions–need to make a new batch and then, maybe we can trade for greens. :-*

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      May 2, 2015

      I’m so interested in fermented sweet/tangy onions! Arugula situation will likely be in effect for next week or two. :)

      • May 5, 2015

        I’ll be in touch when I’m back in town and if there is still a plethora of arugula, you’ve got a deal!

  9. Jesse permalink
    May 4, 2015

    Cooking elk brains may seem like the most awful of tasks, but it is all a part of the process in hunting, gathering, and preparation. I have hunted my whole life and its really awesome to see families teaching their kids about the ways of the land and how to use everything around you to your advantage. One day they will be supplying for you, and I commemorate you for doing so. I wont forget the frustration my mom had when i told her I had taken four rabbits and prepared them for cooking. Being the only hunter in the family it made for a laughable yet memorable experience. Keep up the great work

  10. Jessica permalink
    May 5, 2015

    I wish I was close enough to trade for arugula!! I see a lot of arugula pesto in your future. But, I will help you with your document if you need it – no trade necessary. : ) Just send me en email.

    Shoot. Just saw the date of your post. Probably too late to help. : (

  11. carrie-anne permalink
    May 5, 2015

    hi there
    wish i could grab some arugula–would love to sing a few songs with your girlie.
    Question for you
    we are homeschooling our eldest next year.
    have you ever thought of offering this harry potter writing course on line.
    My so would love it.
    this is something we are looking for.
    not sure how you would that
    and i know kinda selfish of me
    but oh how we would love this

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