Thursday, December 07, 2006

Hail, the Great Parsnip!

I finally have my solarium back. Well, at least a corner of it back. Yesterday, DH and I brought all of our bottles and juice containers to the Return-It depot. We made a grand total of $22.35. Armed with our small fortune, we headed straight across the parking lot to the liquor store. LOL! Well, we have to replenish our empty bottle stash ;)

At the liquor store, I noticed that they’ve brought in Saturna Island wines and even a blackberry port from Thetis Island. Good to see locally grown wines at the government stores. As mentioned before, they also bring in Zanatta’s Damasco wine. They say they can’t bring in most of the local wines since they have to buy in big lots and the wineries can’t make enough to fill their orders. Thank goodness Nanaimo has a smattering of great beer and wine stores that carry most of the local wines and spirits.

I spent the rest of the afternoon working out a parsnip cake recipe. I based it on my carrot cake recipe. Instead of carrots, I used grated parsnips and in the place of crushed pineapples, I used some baked apples I had on hand. I also used spelt flour from True Grains bakery. The spelt gives the cake a lovely, loose crumb and the flavour works well with the spices and parsnips. I also used a dark honey from Jinglepot Apiaries. The dark honey has a very sexy, deep sweetness that makes other bee puke seem thin and bland. Be warned that the cake is delicate when it first comes out of the oven. I found out the hard way and tried to take the cake out of the pan to finish the cooling process. A chunk fell off. The house mice and monkeys finished off the fallen piece in no time ;) It would probably be best to let it cool in the pan before trying to remove it. I will post the recipe later.

I had my piece of parsnip cake with baked apple sorbet I had in the freezer. I made the sorbet from a batch of local elstar and jonagold apples, peeled and cut into chunks. I didn't add any sugar, just some cinnamon, nutmeg and green cardamon and baked the apples at 325F for about 30 minutes. Once cooled, I gave it a whirl with my hand blender, added a spoonful of local wildflower honey for sweetness and a half a bottle of Merridale's Scrumpy Cider. I tossed the lot into my gelato maker. It came out nice and smooth and the bit of alcohol helps keep it from turning into an applesicle.

I love parsnips. They are the most underrated vegetable. Roasting gives them an earthy sweetness that adds character to any dish. I like mashed parsnips with a good shaving of nutmeg or mushed up with some local goat feta. They even make a great creamy soup. Simply boil/steam cubes of parsnip then blend them with enough chicken or veggie stock to make it the right soup consistency. It’s a great base for a myriad of flavours. To it you can add everything from miso to pesto to curry to five-spice or simply a splash of cream or glug of olive oil. Whatever you use carrots in, you can also use parsnips.

As I grated the parsnip for the cake, it’s evocative, earthy fragrance rose from the bowl and brought some light to a grey, rusty day. I got my parsnips at the farmers market. Many stores and farm markets are carrying locally grown parsnips and probably will for much of the winter. They keep for months if stored properly.

Last night, Karin & I went to our monthly Arachne Guild meeting (aka Mid-Island Weavers and Spinners Guild). It was the Christmas potluck last night and so we went armed with locally-grown dishes. Karin had brought an arguta kiwi sorbet and a cranberry sorbet, both made with fruit from down the road. Her sorbets were a big hit! It was so cool to see her enjoy others enjoying her food.

I was so busy with my baking that I had not realized how late it was getting. With about a half an hour to spare, I made a pasta in moose meat & tomato sauce for the potluck and for DH's dinner. It was nothing harder than browning some of ground moose meat that we got from Kev’s uncle and dumping in some frozen tomato sauce and letting it all simmer and meld together as I boiled up some organic rotini. The tomato sauce was from a big cook-up I did a while ago. All the veggies came from farms just down the road. Even the herbs came from Hazelwood Herb farms. It certainly was tastier and cheaper than anything in a jar and just as convenient.

I scooped the pasta and sauce into my best casserole and topped it with a healthy sprinkling of grated cheese. I used Little Qualicum’s Raclette cheese. It’s a mild cheese that melts wonderfully. The piece I had was kinda hard but it melted fine and had a taste quite similar to a parma. I threw that under the broiler and by the time I had changed my clothes and dragged a brush through my hair, the cheese was bubbling and golden.

With a quick kiss for my DH, I was out the door. The potluck was so much fun. Good food and a room full of spirited ladies to share it with. There was also a silent auction. I’m a sucker for silent auctions. A good chunk of my wardrobe is from eBay, the biggest silent auction in the world. At least this silent auction was to help with the guild’s expenses.

This is what I came away with:

My first spinning wheel!!! It's an Ashford wheel and it’s obviously well used and much loved. I’ve been wanting a spinning wheel for ages. I have a small but growing stash of roving next to my not-so-small stash of yarn. My drop spindle skills are getting smoother but spindling doesn’t have the meditative quality that spinning or knitting does. I can still out-knit my spindling speed. I’ve been on the lookout for a wheel all summer. However, even a good used wheels cost between $100 to $250 and a new one would mean I would have to enslave myself to my own sweat factory to justify the costs.

You want to know how much I paid for my wheel?

I got it for…are you for this?

Drum roll please…

A grand sum of $25!!!


I get to give an old wheel a new home for a killer price and I get to take advantage of the great roving and fleece from the local sheep and alpaca farms. The super-sweet cherry on top deal is that the next Arachne meeting is going to be all about spinning. There’s going to be a spinning circle and I will have a roomful of spinners to teach me. I’m such a lucky kid!

Happy Eating!



Gina said...

Hail the parsnip, the turnip and the excellent silent auction!

Mia said...

I love the parsnip cake idea! I would never have thought of using it for baking. Your cake looks lovely.

Congrats on your spinning wheel!

Anonymous said...

I am from Saturna! I used to work at Saturna Island Vineyards. My best friends Michael and Shane are the reps for SIV and have been diligent about getting Saturna wines onto the island. I will pass your comment on. You should come to our island sometime. Great wine and food on Saturna.

Cheers, Beth

Patty said...

I am a huge lover of parsnips and if you want an amazing treat, cut up a parsnip in french fry size and fry them. They are sweet and curnchy all at the same time.
Now for the wheel... I have had an ashford for 15 years or so, mine is a traveller, what a joy it has been to spin with. Have fun creating wonderful yarns. Spinning is such a soothing, de-stressing, creative time.