Sweet Winter Parsnips
Now that the ground has softened up, we can get to our parsnips again:
They are still alive and perfectly well under the straw mulch. After frost and freezing, they are much sweeter, so if you can wait — and don't mind working in the cold and chipping through some semi-frozen ground at times — it's worth it. Fall crops like kale, arugula, turnips, and parsnips create a lot of sugar when the temperatures drop because sugars keeps the plants from freezing — and therefore from dying. Think of how juice just gets slushy when you put it in the freezer, and you have an idea of how this works as a natural protection. All of that extra sugar makes these crops worth waiting for, especially if you protect them further in a cold frame, tunnel, or under mulch. Nothing from a store tastes like these:
If you've never had one, parsnips taste kind of like a cross between a sweet potato (ours do anyway — that's how sweet they've gotten), but with the texture and aroma of a carrot. They're really good, and they provide a nice bit of variety in the winter, when our veggie choices are more limited. We've been out of potatoes for some time now, so for dinner we had mashed parsnips instead:
To make them, Kirk boiled the parsnips until the were tender, then added butter, milk, salt, and pepper and smashed them up — just like you would to make mashed potatoes. Also on the plate are steamed green beans (from our stock of frozen beans from the summer) and a rosemary-crusted roast beef with mushroom gravy. The mushroom gravy is rich and salty, which made it great with the sweet mashed parsnips.
We're pretty deep into winter now, but the No Buying Veggies Challenge is still on, and Sunday dinner hasn't suffered for it!