foodie challenge!

So I read this awesome site by Clay and Zach, called The Bitten Word.  They are witty, funny, a little bit sassy but all in ALL I love that no matter WHO wrote the recipe or where they found it, these boys will write the most honest assessment of the recipe.

Like, *ahem* the “Best Dish of the Year” – which we ALL know we love Kale, but seriously THAT was the best dish they could come up with??  Or this cake which I JUST need an excuse to make (since it is mentioned more than just once…..)

Towards the end of September, they offered up a challenge which is laid out here to which I immediately jumped on board for.  I mean, cooking, which I LOVE and team work! (Hello?!  Have you met me!  I hate to do ANYTHING alone.)  I commented on the post as soon as I read that I would like to participate, and then PROMPTLY forgot about it.  Cue a week later and I have to admit, felt a little like OMGTHEYPICKEDME when I got an email assigning me a dish.  Now, let’s be just BRUTALLY honest.  Those who wanted to cook a dish GOT to cook a dish.  BUT I LOVE these bloggers so it was a little cooler to me.  In fact, I didn’t even tell ANYONE about it because of COURSE I was blowing it out of proportions.  Who cares.  I was excited and I liked my dish assigned.

The Dish

So I was assigned “Creamy Braised Parsnips with Sage” – totally excited about it because I’ve never cooked with parsnips before.  As in, polled Facebook to see what the best place in Birmingham was to get them.

Side bar:  I should have just asked my two roommates.  I forget that they are like SO eco-friendly and like SO KNOW EVERYTHING about gardens veggies and the like.  The one roommate was writen up in the Birmingham News with her work in the Community Garden, and the other planted a veggie garden last week on the fly and would like to build us a chicken coop.  And me?  Please see the sign that is newly posted above the trash can.  I asked is you could recycle Styrofoam.  I mean, i remembered that it was either WAY YES or WAY NO. Just couldn’t decide which one it was.  Now it is clear.

Back to the dish.

Recipe for the delicious parsnips is below, featured in Everyday Food (October 2012) (and at this point, wishing that I could remember punctuation, citations, and things that avoid plagiarism  WHY can’t I remember things.  Please don’t tell me its the drinking…) (Bet you didn’t know that’s how you spell plagiarism.  Yeah, I know you don’t because I was trying to argue with Chrome that it should NOT be squiggly-lined red.  I was wrong.  Point for Google Chrome)

So.  I made two versions.  I made it EXACTLY the way Martha says to.  And then I made one with my own tweaks and cooking thoughts.  As most of yall know, I cook a LOT by smell and taste.  Pinch, handful, some, more, less.  Not by measurements.  First version I followed the recipe like OMG super compliant.  Have to admit, it was tougher than I thought!  And it was decent.

Cast of Characters – Whole Foods was RIGHT by the Colonnade and my Wednesday night RPM class and my Publix didn’t have Parsnips.  So I just grabbed everything else there.  Ended up being about $14 ($5 for parsnips  $2.50 for cream, $2.00 for chicken broth, and $4.00 for sage.  I didn’t end up NEEDING two containers, but I always get worried about not having enough.  Blame it on my mother.)

I have to tell you – Parsnips are PRETTY. But, no matter how much they look like a carrot, they are IN FACT NOT one.  And quite bitter.  Fun Fact from the roomie – if you let them sit underground under winter, that would not be the case.  The sugars build up and become a REALLY great veggie.  When they are picked in the fall, they are IN FACT QUITE BITTER.


It was ehh, good.  I added EXTRA salt, etc.  And as the recipe suggested would have been VERY good with a salty meat.  BUT I was determined that I want this side dish to stand on its own!


  1. Pulgra (Belgium) salted butter instead of Olive Oil. And where the recipe asked for 2 tsp, I probably put 2 Tablespoons of butter in.  Whatever. Did you WANT a good dish or not.
  2. Garlic – 1 clove
  3. Sauteing – instead of “lightly brown” I let them cook until they were a good caramel brown, closer to chocolate (which, coincidentally is what I had for dinner last night).
  4. I reduced the amount of broth by probably 2 Tablespoons – maybe even 1/4 cup.  What I did is started with 3/4 cup, let it cook out, add a little more, cook out, etc.  Like you do with risotto.
  5. Upped the sage – its SAGE and PARSNIPS.  That IS the recipe….I mean besides the cream.  So why would you not want to taste the sage.
  6. I am PRETTY sure that I upped the cream.  But, I am a cream girl.  And this is almost the same way that I cook Israeli Couscous, except for different spices.

Second one was my FAVORITE. It was good enough to stand on its own two little parsnip feet.  And then, TOTALLY better magic with letting it cool about 5, 6 minutes, and letting the flavors meld…and then I’m pretty sure out of 3 lbs of parsnips, I ate 1.5 lbs.  Yes….

So I guess the question is for you – do you want to just *have* a side dish that is there or do you want something that you can’t keep your spoon out of.  The recipe as is IS GOOD. I mean, quick and tasty. But, it also serves as a REALLY good base for change! I see this with poached eggs (Ok, I KNOW I see everything with poached eggs), and next time I am changing cream up for coconut milk and the butter for coconut oil (then the WHOLE recipe would be Paleo).  That with the sage…maybe a little sausage…Pork tenderloin…Yeah.  It’s good.

What I got out of this:

  1. Cooking outside my normal realm of comfort! Fun for me!
  2. Umm, do I EVER follow a recipe to the tee?  I suppose when I bake cakes…but even cookies (except for soda, flours…) I guestimate vanilla, chocolate chips, add-ins.  MAN. I am not a rule follower am I?
  3. Photos? Yeah, I suck at those.
  4. I still don’t know if I should have thrown away the plastic bags and herb container that I did.  I wonder if one of my roommates will pull them out of the garbage.
  5. I DID however put the peels and remnants of the dish into the compost pile.  The one that kinda freaks me out?  Yeah.  That one.  Did I mention my roommates are SO much more in tune with eco-friendliness?  Yeah.  They are.

{lawdy, I suck at pictures.  Lighting, people.  LIGHTING.}


One thought on “foodie challenge!

  1. I am soooo upset I didn’t know about this. How fun…and right up my alley! Added them to my Reader…they better do it again. Can’t wait to read the posts! Good job!

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