So What the Heck is a Parsnip?

Roasting VeggiesLast night I prepared Roasted Carrot and Parsnip Soup using a recipe I found on Real Simple.  I roasted a pound of carrots, a pound of parsnips, a sweet onion, and three garlic cloves at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes (Real Simple, 2013).  The parsnip rounds look a little bit like banana slices in the picture.  I drizzled olive oil over the vegetables and added salt and pepper.  I transferred the roasted veggies to my food processor and pureed with 3 cups of water (Real Simple, 2013).

The soup has a delightful flavor, and is very satiating.  The high fiber contentHearty Crock 'o Soup in parsnips — 3 grams per half a cup — causes the satiation factor (Thompson, 2011).  Parsnips are also a good source of “vitamin C (17% of RDA), folate (11%), and manganese (11%)” (Thompson, 2011, para. 4).  Of course, this begs the question … what the heck is a parsnip?

The University of Illinois Extension (2013) explained that parsnip is a member of the carrot family.  The parsnip’s flavor does not fully develop until the roots have been exposed to freezing temperatures for at least two weeks (University of Illinois Extension, 2013).  WebMD reported that the freezing process converts the starches to sugar, and parsnips were historically used to sweeten preserves and baked goods (Three ParsnipsThompson, 2011).

A Modern Herbal noted that parsnips grew wild in Europe, and varieties were cultivated to develop specific qualities (Grieve, 1931).  Pliny the Elder claimed that Emperor Tiberius valued parsnips so much, he had them transported to Rome from the Rhine River region (Grieve, 1931).  Irish cottagers brewed parsnip beer by “boiling the roots with water and hops, and afterwards fermenting the liquor” (Grieve, 1931, para. 6).  The versatile parsnip was introduced to North America in the 17th century (Thompson, 2011).

Cultivating the parsnip requires patience and fertile soil (University South End of a Parsnipof Illinois Extension, 2013).  Horticulturists recommend marking the rows with radish plants since the parsnips take so long to germinate (University of Illinois Extension, 2013 ).  Joe and I haven’t decided yet if we will add parsnips to our garden mix.  We have until May, 2014 to decide … so until then, we’ll sip our soup and dream of spring.


Grieve, M. (1931). Parsnip. Retrieved from A Modern Herbal website:

Real Simple. (2013). Roasted carrot and parsnip soup. Retrieved from the Real Simple website:

Thompson, C. (2011). Seven healthy facts about parsnips. Retrieved from the WebMD website:

University of Illinois Extension. (2013). Parsnip. Retrieved from the University of Illinois Extension website:

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Exploring the Relationship Between Education and Incarceration

Exploring the relationship between education and incarceration - graphicThis infographic highlights a few important facts.  I’m not trying to say that a poor education causes incarceration.  But they are linked.


  • Bureau of Justice Statistics, (2006). Federal justice statistics 2006 – Statistical tables NCJ 225711. Washington DC: Author.

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Got Leaves?

Today, Joe and I volunteered at GGrowing Places Indy Signrowing Places Indy.  As explained on their website, “Growing Places Indy is a non-profit organization committed to cultivating the culture of food and urban agriculture in the Indianapolis marketplace”.  They farm several sites in Indianapolis.  We visited the site at the Chase Near Eastside Legacy Center.

Joe and I loved the folks we met today.  They were super friendly, and answered several of our questions about our own garden.  Today’s work consisted of spreading leaves over new garden beds that will be planted next year for the first time.  The farm manager explained that placing leaves directly on the grass, watering them down with a hose, and then covering with compost will break down the grass so that the beds are ready for planting next year.  Joe and I had planned on renting a rototiller to clear the sod for our expanded garden beds.  TheGrowing Places Indy Raised Beds wet leaves and compost method sounds a lot easier and better for the environment since we won’t use any fossil fuel.

I guess we’ll be visiting our neighbors asking if we can help dispose of their leaves.  We’ll make sure we get there after they’ve finished raking and bagging them.

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Sorry, Onions

Several years ago a friend gave me a simple recipe for making homemade vegetable broth.   She said to saute’ garlic, celery, carrots, and onions in olive oil until the vegetables Garlic Celery Carrots Updated - 75 percentwere soft and the onions had caramelized.   Add any spices you like … salt, pepper, cilantro, cumin, basil, thyme, rosemary etc.  It probably makes sense to think about what you’re going to do with the broth before adding too many spices.

My memory is a little fuzzy on the next steps but I believe she said to puree the mix in a blender or food processor.  I’ve started using this as a base for soup.  I add water until I get the consistency I like.  I leave the blended vegetables in the mix — it makes for a thicker, more filling soup.  I was happy to find out that my friend, Blanche Agassy McCord, has written a cookbook — Vegetarian Cooking for Starters.

This recipe is relevant to our spring garden for 2014.  We’ve decided to grow these basic ingredients — garlic, celery, carrots, and onions — since they form a framework that we use frequently for many foods.  The recipe also inspired the name of this blog.

Sorry, onions.

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Next Year’s Garden

We’ve decided to grow the following veggies and herbs in next year’s garden:

  • Garlic
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Sweet onions
  • Black Seed Simpson Lettuce
  • Mild Mesclun Mix
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Bell pepper
  • Zucchini
  • Butternut Squash

I just ordered some organic seeds from Seattle Seed Company.  My favorite veggies are the rainbow carrot blend.

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I Don’t Even Like Radishes

My husband and I started sampling farmers markets in Hendricks and Marion Counties last summer.  We decided our favorite one was the Zionsville Farmers Market on Saturday mornings.  We made friends with a couple farmers who offered gorgeous veggies at their booth each week.  We discovered a burning passion to grow our own food.

It was late July, and a visit to a local garden and landscape store revealed that the only veggies we could plant and harvest before winter were lettuce and radishes.  I don’t even like radishes,radishes but we decided to give it a go.  We planted black-seeded simpson leaf lettuce, mesclun mix, watermelon radishes, mustard greens, and arugula.  We also planted some herbs and vegetables from plants — basil, thyme, cilantro, rosemary, garlic chives, and a pepper plant.

We had mixed results, but the big deal was — we were hooked.  We have decided to expand our garden in 2014, and have been avidly poring over books and magazines from our library.  Gardening seems to combine a lot of the activities we love — spend time outdoors, exercise, eat healthy food, build community, explore science in a fun and engaging manner, and connect with the farming roots of our ancestors.  We don’t know what we’re doing, but we’re having fun doing it.

This blog will document the adventure.

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