Monday, September 30, 2013
This recipe stems from the root veggie parade that wraps up the growing season. Never a fan of roots in the past, with a little practice they have slipped their way up as some of my very favorite foods, parsnip chips ranking near the top.
[RIGHT ON PAR]
If you've never had a parsnip you really are in for a treat. Parsnips look like their carrot cousin but are a bit more mature, hosting a sweeter, nuttier flavor. And they come at just the right time. The most effective way to warm the body is from the inside out, something these and other root vegetables are amazingly good at. As the air gets cooler and damper, the warming properties of parsnips help resolve these conditions in our bodies. They're a good source of calcium, vitamin A and C, and potassium and are relatively high in silicon and fiber [the insoluble kind].
So, get these in the oven, grab a cup of tea and a really good book or the family, some friends, and a picnic basket, and take in every single ounce of this season. Play outside as much as possible. Try your hand at apple or pear sauce [it's too easy not to!], eat a salad [like twice a day because soon you'll salivate at the thought of fresh greens], and carve a pumpkin. Walk through the woods or around the block. Sit by a campfire. Light your favorite fall-scented candle. Decorate with mums and gourds and corn and hay. Most of all forget that winter is around the corner and simply enjoy what is right now - beauty everywhere.
3 - 4 large parsnips, scrubbed and cut into very thin slices*
extra virgin olive oil
spice blend of choice [I really like equal parts black pepper, onion powder, paprika; 1/2 parts garlic powder and turmeric; and a dash or so ground rosemary, ground thyme, ground basil]
Place cut parsnips on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Drizzle a couple tablespoons worth of olive oil over the parsnips and sprinkle a teaspoon or so of salt and a teaspoon or so of spice blend. Toss well until parsnips are thoroughly coated, adding more oil, salt, and spice as needed. Test a chip and adjust flavors accordingly.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place baking sheet in oven and bake for anywhere from 15 - 30 minutes. You'll want to watch them closely because baking time will vary depending on parsnip slice thickness.
When they are golden brown [not dark brown or black] and crispy, remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes.
Enjoy plain or with your dip!
*When I purchase organically I tend to not peel parsnips, carrots, beets, etc. and opt to scrub them really well instead. Many essential nutrients lie just beneath the peel and most peelers remove those nutrients with the peel.
Monday, September 9, 2013
When I think of September my first inclination is to let my thoughts go immediately to, what else, apples! Apple cider, apple sauce, apple crisp, apple pie, apple picking, apples, apples, apples!
This year however, we have pears.
I'm sure our trees are making up for last year's poor performance because this season they're loaded. The thing about gardening is we never really know what we'll get. We put in the work and hours and anxiety and care but, at the end of each day, nature must take over and we walk away with a feeling of well, it is what it is. Last year's fruit crop [or not-so-fruit crop] is fine evidence of this. If you suffered through no apples, pears, or peaches [at least organically grown, local ones] you know what I mean.
Which leads me to a confession.
I'm quite the glutton. In fact, I may just turn into a peach or pear or watermelon or maybe all three.
If you've fasted from anything before you may be able to relate. Or if you try to stick to local foods and follow seasonal eating patterns you definitely get it. Our mantra around here is: eat it while it's good and fresh and juicy and bright and delicious and eat a lot. Oh, and freeze or can everything else.
And so we're doing just that. We're eating and snacking and canning and freezing.
Which leads me to a recipe. A really, really simple recipe.
Spiced pear sauce.
A few weeks ago we picked our first pears and then a small cool snap got me thinking - apples make wonderful sauces, what about pears?
You may want to sit down for this.
Pear sauce is even better.
May you fully embrace the last days of summer - eat outside, swim, climb trees, walk in the park, swing. May you can or freeze some food [and be really proud when you do]. May you bite into a crunchy apple and juicy pear and be reminded to fully live in the present knowing what is this year may not come around next season. And may you make lots and lots of sauce.
Quick disclaimer: this is about as loose as recipes get. I've provided basic recipe guidelines but everything will be adjusted to your own taste preferences.
Fresh picked, organic pears
Fresh or ground dried ginger
Food mill, blender, or food processor
Prepare pears by washing [really important if you aren't using organic pears]. Halve and then quarter the pears and remove core or simply cut around the core. Place pears quarters in a large stainless steel pot and add water to within one inch of the bottom [a few cups should do the trick]. If you are using fresh ginger, peel and cut the ginger into 1/4" chunks [a couple chunks work well]. Place in the pot with the pears. Cover the pot and bring water to boil. Once the water boils, turn the heat down just a bit to a hard simmer. Cook the pears until they are really soft [anywhere from 30 - 60 minutes].
If you are using a food mill or have a glass blender you can proceed right away. If you have a plastic blender or food processor you'll want to allow the pears to cool to warm before you blend.
Place the pears in a food mill, blender, or food processor and mill to your desired consistency. Once all of the pears have been ground into sauce, add powdered ginger [if you are not using fresh add anywhere from 1/4 tsp - 1 tsp depending on the taste you desire] and a small pinch of cardamom. Start really small with the spices and add more as you go. Cinnamon is also a really nice addition but again, start small.
You can either can [follow your canner's instructions], freeze [allow to cool before placing in freezer], or eat your sauce.