Cooking With Love and Parsnips, by Tasha HalpertSnow scene 3

I believe that when you cook with love because you love to cook, the food tastes better. From the time I was small I have enjoyed and appreciated all things to do with cooking. One of my favorite occupations as a child was to arrange the items in the pantry off our kitchen. The wide shelving held all sorts of pots, pans, bowls, and other cooking supplies. In my mind I can still smell the wooden shelves covered with shiny oilcloth. Was it held on with thumbtacks? My memory stops there.

My mother considered food to be for nourishment, not pleasure. She used her food money carefully, and she did not like to spend extra money on the ingredients for desserts, which was all she permitted me to cook. She never ever baked anything, nor did she use much in the way of herbs or spices. My dad never cooked, nor did anyone else in my family. Why I so love to cook is a mystery to me.

Another reason my mother didn’t let me cook was that she considered me careless and irresponsible–perhaps I was, though most children without experience might be considered so. Occasionally I was permitted to make brownies and later, salads. As a young bride I had to teach myself to cook from a cookbook. Today although I have a fine collection of them, I seldom refer to my general cookbooks except for inspiration, unless I am baking. Successful baking generally requires exact measurements.

I also have many small cookbooks in my collection. These include recipes collected for church fund raising, pamphlets featuring commercial ingredients, and others that friends have given me. Most have one or two recipes I refer to on a regular basis that can be found nowhere else. While many of the small collections are for baked goods and casseroles there is one in particular that I have found to be very useful: Marjorie Standish Chowders Soups and Stews.

The recipe in it I have used most is for Parsnip Stew. Being a lover of parsnips for their sweet, meaty taste, I was delighted to come across this recipe. Easy to make and universally popular, I thought my readers would enjoy it. Although the original calls for salt pork, I make it with butter and a touch of olive oil. Ingredients: 2 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 small onion diced, 2 cups peeled, diced potatoes, 2 cups water, salt and pepper to taste, 3 cups cubed parsnips, 1 quart milk–any kind will do; Being somewhat lactose intolerant I use oat milk.

Method: Melt butter and add onion, stir and cook until transparent. Add potatoes and water, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then simmer for 10 minutes. Add parsnips, bring back to a boil, simmer 10 more minutes. Test for doneness and add milk. Heat to serving temperature or pour into a container and store until ready to reheat. Serve with several tablespoons or more of minced parsley.

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