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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cooking Lessons - Parsnips

I usually try to have some witty story to tell you guys at the start of each post but today I'm not really thinking of anything to share with you.  I'll try to be better about that for next week, I promise.  We had a busy week with Dan playing ice hockey in 3 different leagues between Thursday and Sunday.  I was working on homework, again and on Sunday we took Briscoe (our black lab) and Tucker (our yellow lab) to a fundraiser for Placing Paws (the animal rescue that we volunteer with) in Mundelein.  It was hosted at a doggy day-care and was raising money for both the rescue and for canine cancer research.  It was fun because I saw people that I haven't seen in several months, if not longer, but it also reminds me that I have no idea how to react when people react to how much weight I've lost.  If anyone has any advice on how to do that - let me know.  Clearly I'm flattered but I always feel like I don't know what to say (besides thank you of course).

Now... on to today's cooking lesson.  One of the comments that I got from last week's post was about parsnips.  I hadn't ever had them until we got them in our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box back in the fall of 2010.  I absolutely loved them so much that we decided to plant them this past spring.  As it turns out they are ridiculously easy to grow (plant in the spring, let the grow all summer and harvest in the fall right after the first light frost) so we planted quite a lot of them this year.  However, I'm not necessarily suggesting you plant them but if you can find them in your local market (for those in IL - I know they have them at Caputo's or you can also check another good produce market) you should give them a whirl.  They are a root vegetable and look like a white carrot but taste a little more potato-ey than they look.  I like to peel them (just like a carrot) and cut them into chunks and boil them.  I've boiled them alone or I've boiled them with potatoes and then smashed them and topped them with a little spray butter, salt and pepper.  Delicious.  You'll know they are cooked when they are tender (just like a carrot or potato) so just stick a fork or knife in them to check.  Another way to prepare them would be to slice them thin, toss them with a little olive oil and seasonings, lay them on a pan and bake them into chips.  Time will vary based on how thin/thick they are cut so keep an eye on them.  

Unfortunately, parsnips are not one of the free vegetables.  They are a little starchy so there is a Points+ value to them so keep an eye on the portion size.  I think they are totally worth the Points because they are really satisfying and tremendously delicious.  So, do you think you're up for trying a parsnip?

What other foods do you wonder about cooking?

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