Archives for posts with tag: parsnips

It’s time to shut down the garden and reflect on six lessons learned in 2013.

1. Only buy locally grown tomato plants. The fancy twice-the-price superman plants we imported from Oregon actually underperformed the local yokels. I think they just couldn’t cope with a Washington summer that saw a long drought followed by monsoon rains, interspersed with the usual hot and humid weather. CRR ordered some of the grafted tomatoes for his parents, and their plants thrived in the cooler South Dakota climate. We rather enviously helped his mother harvest the last of her tomatoes in mid-October.

2. Studiously ignore the parsnip section of the seed catalogs. I thought I loved parsnips, but it turns out I like parsnips in small doses. Like buying half a dozen at a time at the farmers market. We had two full rows of parsnips, and simply grew tired of the few preparations we concocted. There is still a bag full of them in the back of the spare refrigerator. I hope they don’t multiply in there.

3. In fact, studiously ignore the seed catalogs altogether until spring is just around the corner. Otherwise, we cave to winter cravings rather than stick to the tried-and-true.

4. Thin the ridiculous mint and horseradish. Let me repeat in harsher terms: Ruthlessly hack back the mint and horseradish, which both grow like the invasive species they are. A flame-thrower might be in order. (Hint: Christmas gift?)

5. Call my brother in Minneapolis for instructions on when to plant the fall crop. He had a huge late October harvest, including a massive haul of green beans, by planting in mid-August. We put our fall seeds into the ground too late. #EpicFail.fall-leaves-autumn-graphy-views_356851

6. Show no mercy to volunteer plants that sprout amid our carefully plotted rows. We wound up with a stupid curved squash whose vines menaced a terrified Brandywine tomato. And a pumpkin vine that crept around two sides of the garden and produced exactly 1.5 pumpkins.

Enough venting. Just remind me to re-read this list when spring rolls around.

Sandy Johnson is a journalist and a gardener, equally passionate about both. She lives in Alexandria, VA.  Visit her on her blog, Grassroots & Gardening

We planted parsnips for the first time this year, on the theory that we had known success with every other root vegetable. The parsnips are a happy sight, their greens growing tall (greens are toxic, sadly) and flourishing beneath the soil as well.

They’re not an uber vegetable, like kale – one blogger called parsnips “an ingenue waiting to be discovered in this country” — but they’re a good source of potassium, vitamin C and fiber. Our crop is the varietal Harris Model, from Jung.

I love parsnips as a component of a roasted vegetable medley: beets, carrots, onions, sweet potatoes, and parsnips. Roasted slowly, the natural sugars come out and create a multi-colored dish that I can make an entire meal of.

But that’s a little johnny-one-note, and we’ve already had several rounds of roasted veg this summer. So I started looking around for other parsnip recipes. My mom used to cut them in half and sauté them in butter until they were crisp around the edges, sprinkled with a little salt and pepper. A yummy memory from my childhood. If you have a favorite parsnip recipe, send it along!

I found several parsnip soup recipes that looked appealing. Parsnips were the dominant item, but some called for a potato, a sweet potato, carrots or leeks. I decided to go the potato route to preserve the bright white color.

parsnips

parsnips

Parsnip Soup

Several large parsnips, peeled, cut into 1” chunks

One potato, peeled, cut into 1” chunks

Chicken/veg stock

Water

1 onion, roughly chopped

1-3 cloves garlic

Saute the onion in a little knob of butter, 1-2 Tablespoons, in your soup pot. When it’s softened, add the garlic and sauté for another minute or two. Then add the parsnips and potatoes, and a mixture of chicken stock and water, just enough to cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer til tender, 25-30 minutes. Puree the mixture in batches in a food processor, or use your immersion blender in the pot. Puree until very smooth (this will diminish any fibrous bits of parsnip). Add ½ c half-and-half or milk for creaminess. If it’s still too thick, add a little more stock.  Season with salt, pepper and a dash of cayenne. Reheat to desired temp. Serve in bowls, topped with a sprinkle of minced chives. Or a scattering of bacon bits, for a slightly heartier dish. Serves 2 as a meal, 4 as an appetizer.

Sandy Johnson is a journalist and a gardener, equally passionate about both. She lives in Alexandria, VA.  Visit her on her blog, Grassroots & Gardening.