Friday, September 28, 2007

P is for Parsnips and a tale of vegetable crossing


Right now, as I sit at my desk in my bedroom in West London there are 5,578 books released into the wilds of the United Kingdom, waiting to be caught. 16,257 books are lurking hidden in the United States and in Australia there are another 1,779 on walkabout. These books are waiting to be discovered by any one of us, left there by strangers as part of an internet-based phenomenon known as book-crossing. Book-Crossers leave books in strange places, lodge the location on the internet and wait for some unsuspecting member of the public to find them. Freddie and Alex have released books this way and dream of finding one. The website says,
"Leave it on a park bench, at a coffee shop, at a hotel on vacation. Share it with a friend or tuck it onto a bookshelf at the gym -- anywhere it might find a new reader! What happens next is up to fate, and we never know where our books might travel next. Track the book's journey around the world as it is passed on from person to person."

On the weekend I did something very similar with a bag of parsnips. I had coffee in a cafe in Hammersmith and forgot my parsnips. I went back but they had disappeared. I hope that this could be the start of a new internet phenomenon. You leave a vegetable on a park bench, register its location on the internet and then wait for someone to discover it and turn it into some extraordinary dish. At least that is what I hoped happened to my parsnips. I went back to the supermarket to buy more and brought them home to roast with some honey, served with a leg of Welsh Lamb for Sunday Lunch. Freddie gave them 8 out of 10. We only hope that our lost parsnips enjoyed the same fate...

Roasted parsnips with honey
Serves 4
450g parsnips
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp of sesame oil
1 tbsp of sesame seeds
Cut each parsnip lengthways into quarters. If the core looks a little woody, cut it out. Cut each piece in half. Cook them in a pan of boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain well.
Preheat the oven to 200C.
In a bowl, mix together the honey, sesame oil and seeds with the parsnips so they are well coated. Put them in a non-stick roasting tin and roast in the oven for around 25 minutes. They should be tender and golden brown when ready.

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  1. Thanks for stopping by my blog! Love the recipes, these will be great assets to my kitchen-less existence.

  2. Very funny -- we did Book Crossing a few years ago, when we traveled across the US. We tried to leave books in interesting places -- in the visitor centers of National Parks, in a pueblo church in New Mexico. It was great fun to track the books on their journeys.

  3. Hi Charlotte,
    I took one look at your bowl of parsnips and instantly wanted them. The recipe looks superb...I might use rice syrup in place of honey.

    And a great idea about leaving a bag of veggies somewhere!!! Hmmm...I'm going to think on this one.

    I like the idea with books too as I read and accumulate many...

    And very cool that Freddie gave the parsnips an eight!

  4. Is it just me or are you getting even funnier!

  5. Amanda - Dafter probably, rather than funnier....
    Megan and Lydia
    I am seriously thinking that vegetable crossing is the way ahead. Should I set up a blog just for people to register where they leave some cellophaned wrapped vegetables with a label that points to the site and see wht happens...

  6. Parsnips are such lovely vegetables. Some people think that adding honey is overkill on the sweetness, but each to their own. I love them either way, and it helps them caramelise. Glad you like these Freddie!


  7. Hey, that'd be a great way to get people to eat their veggies :)

  8. Just wanted to say that I've joined you in my own Veggie Challenge! In my case it's by having my uni vegetables provided from a local farm, so I only get what's in season. Your blog has been so helpful when veggies turn up and I have no idea what to do with them. Thank you in particular for help with carrots and beetroot!

  9. Okay you had me lost on that site!!! Hmmmm guess I will be doing a bit of hunting here too!!! What a lucky find for someone!! Glad Freddie liked the Parsnips!!

  10. Hehehe. I'd imagine you get quite a karmic charge for giving a bag of parsnips to the universe! The recipe looks fantastic for lamb - a different approach from the norm with the gorgeous sesame note. I can't wait to try this!

  11. Charlotte,
    That would be really FUN. I'm game. Count me in!

  12. Oh that's brilliant. Perhaps you'll find a bunch of Brussel sprouts hanging out on the bus.

    I'm not a huge fan of parsnips but for those who like them I understand that they taste even better after the first frost and thus one should delay eating them until then unless of course one is on an alphabet driven timescale.

  13. I think I am going to set up a sub blog and trial the veg - crossing.
    We have to have some ground rules though.
    1. Things probably have to be cellophaned wrapped for hygiene.
    2. We need somewhere for people to register where they left the veg and somewhere for people to say that they are found and what they did with them.
    Any oither thoughts on how this mad scheme could work?

  14. If you visit my blog and leave a comment, you might win a book yourself this week.
    It's Buy a Friend a Book week (BAFAB), so I/m offering the chance to win the book of my choice in a draw for all commenters.
    Oh, and I bookcross too!
    It's at
    not the google link which will come up here.

  15. Fall is a great time to get cookin' with the root veggies. They are so good even just roasted with olive oil. Yours looks and sounds yummy!
    Thanks for the tip on bookcrossing. I have never heard of it but now it has my interest!

  16. Parsnips are a wonderful root vegetable and often under rated. I love their sweet creaminess. They lend themselves to many applications. I'm glad that Freddie rated them an 8! Hopefully the lost parsnips went to someone who will enjoy their sweet goodnbess.

  17. So funny! I was in a second-hand store recently and the owner and a customer were deciding to make the store a place to release books into the wild that were too precious to be left out in the elements.

    Love the parsnip recipe. Think I'll try it with some walnut oil I've got hanging around.


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