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Last night, I reached for the bag of parsnips that were sitting in my refrigerator and decided to turn them into something soothing and comforting for dinner but without all the fat and calories. I had such good luck with Martha's Cauliflower Soup so I figured why not apply the same technique to the parsnips and make a soup. I cut the parsnips into a fine dice so they would cook quickly and sauteed them with onions along with a tiny amount of olive oil in a nonstick pan. After the parsnips were soft, I added chicken stock and adjusted the seasonings with salt and pepper. I covered the pot and let the mixture cook on medium heat until the parsnips were uber soft (about 15 minutes). This mixture was then transferred to a deep bowl to be pureed with an immersion blender. I prefer a thicker soup but you can always add more chicken stock if you prefer a more soupy texture.
I have always been fascinated by my sense of taste and according to my mother, my love affair with food goes back to even before I was born. She claims she never ate so much as when she was pregnant with me. As an infant, I would voraciously consume bottle after bottle of milk. At age two, I would climb on top of the kitchen counter in order to steal the bowl of sugar. This was also around the time I got into a fist fight with my cousin over a bunch of grapes. When I was three, I was mesmerized by the cookies featured on a TV commercial and I became angry after I couldn't get them out of the TV console. During family gatherings, I was the first to line up at the buffet to get served. When most children watched cartoons, I watched cooking shows on PBS. Instead of playing house, I would pretend to have my own restaurant. If I needed to be bribed or compensated for doing a good job in school, my parents would take me out to dinner. When I was sixteen, I didn't speak to my brother for one month after I found out he ate my slice of carrot cake. When my mother asked me what I wanted for my 21st birthday, I requested a spice rack. Even today, my husband knows that perfume and accessories don't cut it with me - the magic password is All Clad. It's really no surprise that I ended up with a career in food and wine. I was born to this job.
I was put on my first diet when I was ten. My mother would concoct all sorts of weird food schematics for me to stick to. When I 12, there was the grapefruit juice diet which inadvertantly led to the first time I became intoxicated. It was at a religious function where drinking was not allowed but that didn't stop my aunt from spiking the carton of grapefruit juice she found in the refrigerator with vodka. Little did she know that her secret stash belonged to me. I drank a good portion of the carton and since grapefruit juice already tasted bitter to me I couldn't tell that it had been altered. My family couldn't figure out why I kept crying but they finally realized that is was because my juice had been contaminated and I was drunk. My mother would go on to other diet plans with shakes, powders and what not. She even enlisted the help of outside sources, Ms. Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers and Herbalife. I would lose a few pounds but then the siren of good things to eat would call me back. This cycle would repeat itself in various reincarnations well into my adulthood.
Despite all of this, I have been fairly content and comfortable in my skin. It's a little frustrating when you pick out things to try on at a clothing store and they don't fit the way you imagined in your head but you work with it. And sometimes you get those unflattering photos of yourself but everyone has those. I was ready to make peace with my physique until I heard the news that my beloved Uncle had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. This would make him the fourth person in my immediate family who would now have to live with this awful disease. I remember my grandmother having to prick her finger to test her blood for sugar and even though she said it didn't hurt, it was really painful to watch some you love go through that.
Hearing about my Uncle is enough of an incentive for me to get healthier. With the help of my doctor, I'm focused on getting in shape, eating better and working on dropping some pounds. Of course, I still want to enjoy good food and you can certainly do so by getting creative in the kitchen.
Over the next few months, I will let you know how I'm doing and post any recipes that I find to be extremely tasty along with wine pairings. Being surrounded by food and wine all day makes this challenge an uphill battle but the payoff will be a healthier me.