Sunday, October 2, 2011

Rooting Around

So here's my attempt to bridge the gap between the horribly depressing post I wrote last and a new more upbeat one.

Since last we met, I repeated the phrase, "It's all part of the circle of life" several dozen times, put the past behind me, and moved back to school to start my second year at college. A big epiphany hit when I was planting bulbs at my new residence in Corvallis.

I was so excited about the life that each bulb held, the fact that these seemingly ugly little root things would, come spring, grow glorious daffodils, alliums, and grape hyacinths. They were just embryos of life, waiting for some good soil, rain, and sunshine to start growing. I was amazed when my brain made a connection between this instant, and the last time I knelt by a hole in the ground and placed something in it.

I've discovered a few things in this new state of mind.
I've found that, cliche but true, death is just another part of life. And I've come further in accepting that fact.
I've also realized how weird roots are.

(On that note... Mission Control: The gap has been bridged! Here we go...)

Who pulled up a root and thought, "Oooh, check out this nasty looking thing I just dug up! Let's eat it." in the first place?

I've been on a soup streak. Yesterday's variation was a winter root soup, whose modified recipe I will take you through now. This recipe forced me to deal with a bunch of ingredients I've never touched before. Including:

All I knew about parsnips before is from this Home Star Runner video. Clearly, from such an education, I didn't know much. And I was hesitant to use them. They smelled suspiciously like carrots. But white. So basically, they're like albino carrots. Creepy right?

(If the video doesn't work, go here
If you want to know what/who Home Star Runner is, go here.)

Or rutabagas, or whateverthefuck they're really called. I wasn't really aware that there was any other kind of turnip than the classically pictured red ones. But that was incredibly naïve, because there are. Red ones, white one, purpley white ones, et cetera. Nevertheless, they're still pretty boring. 

This word sounds like a disease. Celiac maybe? I don't know, but it sure as hell doesn't sound delicious. Upon discovering that another name for this revolting looking vegetable was "celery root", it managed to maintain its spot on the recipe card, even though it reminded me of the Mandrake roots from Harry Potter...

Butternut Squash (not a root, but still considered "wintery")
I've probably eaten this one before, but I've never dealt with it cooking-wise. It's name is actually kind of confusing. I wasn't sure if I should be expecting something buttery, nutty, or squashy. Or a combination. What I got in the end was none of these, but actually something more pumpkiny. 

Anywhoo, the recipe was those aforementioned vegetables plus sweet potatoes, peeled, chopped, drizzled in EVOO and tossed in an oven approximately the temperature of hell. Every time I opened the oven my eyebrows singed a little. But at least the oven smelled delicious.

Meanwhile... butter, celery, and a sweet onion were having a party on the stove top (I'm glad someone was, because it was Saturday night after all). Then came a quart of chicken broth. Whilst that was sittin' and a-simmerin', the roots and squash in the oven were ready for their debut. The oven veggies were commingled into the pot, and  everybody chilled together while I added some half-and half.

Then I got to take out the tiniest bit of "I can't believe I have a midterm already next week" aggression using the potato masher on the chunky vegetables.

Potato masher, because I don't have an immersion blender. Early Christmas gift to myself...? Maybe.
Although I did just buy myself a Kitchen Aid mixer.

Except the mixer's a little messed up because the box may or may not have fallen out of my car when I first got it. It makes a high pitched squealing noise now, but still mixes things fine. I registered it, so it has a one year warranty. I think it will explode before a year goes by if it has a mind to do so.

The finished product was interesting, like nothing I've had before, but good in its own right. My roomies seemed to like it too.

I've found a cool website that you can enter all the ingredients from a recipe and it'll analyze the vitamins, calories, and other nutritional aspects of that recipe.
Turns out that if one butternut squash, two sweet potatoes, one celery root, two parsnips, three turnips, two stalks of celery, three carrots, one sweet onion, a quart of chicken broth (low sodium of course), three tablespoons of butter, and 1/2 cup of half and half make 12 servings (which it did), then you'll get about 45% of your daily vitamin C, and a shocking 300% of your daily vitamin A.

So yeah, we're pretty much set on that front.
Until the soup is gone...

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