Language is another form of currency. Our ability to use and manipulate words in our native tongue is a skill that we say in our culture — at least to our students — we value. With this in mind, consider the following:
To parse: To analyze, examining individual parts.
To snip: To cut or remove in small bits.
Snippet: A small piece or fragment (no doubt obtained from the aforementioned snip).
Parsnip: The lowly unsung tuber often found in the same stewpot with its flashier rival, the carrot — alike in shape, but not color — and its ugly cousin the turnip, its twin in color but not shape.
Mix these linguistic ingredients together and you have a Parsnippet, a column dedicated to local food and to the people who like to eat it.
Each week I will be strolling through our Cortez Farmer's Market, looking for the ripest and richest of produce our local growers have to offer — perhaps pilfering a recipe or two. Then I'll take it all home, and with as little fuss and adulteration as possible, serve up a platter of homegrown goodness that is fresh, tasty, easy, economical and nourishing (all parsnippial qualities, by the way). And then I will share it with you. And maybe I can also share a story or observation along the way. When enjoyed with friends or family, you will have a currency pulled from our local soil and rich in simple abundance.
For example, on a recent Saturday I thought I'd go downtown to the farmers market and see what kind of early-season offerings there were. It had been such a dreadful spring — windy and cold (did I mention windy?) — that frankly my expectations were pretty low. I was greeted by an aproned hostess from the Live Well Montezuma booth, looking for all the world like June Cleaver, and bearing a plate of radish poppyseed canapes. Radishes! Who, I ask you, ever knows what to do with a bunch of radishes, except slice up one or two in a salad and then have the remaining others sit in the bottom drawer of your fridge until they grow fur? Well, wonder no more. The following recipe is simple and delicious, especially when you use radishes that have been freshly unearthed from local dirt. Here it is — radish poppyseed canapes:
One-quarter cup cream cheese
One-quarter cup thick yogurt
One-half tablespoon poppyseeds
One teaspoon lemon zest
Two teaspoons lemon juice
One-half teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper
Red pepper flakes
One bunch radishes, finely diced (hold back two for garnish)
Combine everything but the radishes with a whisk or fork. Add diced radishes. Serve on tiny slices of thin bread or on crackers. Top each with a thin slice of radish.
And by the way, not wanting to waste a molecule of these homegrown wonders, I washed the radish tops, sauteed the greens lightly in vegetable oil, and added them to a spinach quiche I was preparing for dinner. They lent a zesty bite to an otherwise predictable entree. Combined with a simple salad of mixed greens purchased that same day at the farmer's market, it was a gratifying, wholesome, and oh-so-simple meal.
The Parsnippet hopes to be a slice of life. Real. Nourishing. One hundred percent homegrown.
Wendy Watkins is the owner of S'more Music, a private Suzuki piano studio in Cortez. She can be reached at 565-4129.