Sunday, January 16, 2011


I have a twin!! I do. My other half shares my brown hair, blue eyes, and, well, that’s it.  Six foot one inch of genuine, his candidness causes EVERYONE…yes, everyone to befriend him as their own! It's an innocent type of realness appeals to the masses.  
I can only find one fault in him: He's injury prone. Injury is as synonymous with my bro as a Valley Girl is to ", whatever!"
My opinion? Ryan delivers exactly what he promises: A jolly, apathetic boy with some vaguely spontaneous, haphazard stunts awaitin’.
His pains  originated right out of the womb (No, not growing pains)! The thub-bub of his heart rythmed to the beat of a humming bird wings—300 beats per minute. No worries.  After a 5 month hospital stay, he survived.  Next up, baby teeth. Ryan lost his front tooth at age 3 and toothless he remained until 3rd grade. No dental work, and he survived. 
Then came the persistence of the broken leg. During elementary school, Ryan felt naked without his leg braced. No joke, 7 times he cast and recast it! Basically legless and he survived. Highschool and college brought muscle tears, elbow issues, and a pinched nerve that left him with a lopsided shoulder tilt. A mess that he survived.
Most recent:
Rinnnnng, ring, ring: “Amanda, it's Ry here. This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. Ever.  Bar none.”
And there I was, struck dumb, rigid and cocked headed, “My brother fell off a 15 foot tree?”
Why did he do it? To scare girls! Needless to say, you did the trick bro (F.Y.I. NO SUBSTANCE ABUSE was involved with this accident).
There’s nothing that screams, “Sister, I need you!” quite like a 3 broken vertebral processes, two fractured ribs, and a punctured lung, is there?
Close calls never stop this guy. He survived!
Ryan's solution for the backaches didn’t come in painkillers. It was a healthy combination of my mom and I catering to his every need, fervent prayer, and the humors he calls friends.  My solution to any of life's problems differs: the flash of my camera, the steady beat of my knife on the cutting board, and kitchen mess to adorn my apron. And let's not forget my kitchen wish-list...
Curried PARSNIP and CARROT Dill Soup

To Ryan, Walmart's prepared food section smells of roses. But sometimes he revels in my idea of soothing: meals made-from-scratch.

This time, however, he assumed a non-cooking role: singlehandedly manning kitchen traffic. 
The result of his hard work: Creamy Curried Parsnip (left half) and it's other half Carrot Dill Soup (to the right). 
Twin-like veggies, carrot and parsnip, make puree perfect chowders! Think essence-of-heaven (x 2) embodied in these recipes. Mix smokey cumin with tangy dill and you get a punched up dish with herbaceous flavors. A part of my snow-day survival kit, I drink these soups like a parched man drinks water.

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Creamy Curried Parsnip Soup
Adapted from the Wholesome Kitchen Cookbook
Serves: 6 full bowls (or 12 bowls half as pictured above)

2 Tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 lb parsnips, chopped (1 lb=3 cups chopped or 4-6 small parsnips)
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
2 Tablespoons mild curry powder
4 cups vegetable stock
14 oz. can butter beans, welled drained and rinsed
1/2 cup light cream
1-2 tablespoons freshly snipped chives
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Kitchen Tools:
Sharp knife for cutting carrots and parsnips
large saucepan (pot) with a lid
Baking sheet
Large mixing spoon
Emersion blender, food processor, or blender

Set the oven to 350 degrees F. On a baking sheet place parsnips. Add 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch (1 tsp) of salt and pepper. Roast parsnips for about 30-40 minutes until golden brown.
When parsnips are halfway done, turn them to the other side. Then in a large saucepan heat butter over medium heat. When the butter melts and coats the pan, add the onion and garlic.  Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes until onion has softened.
Stir in the curry powder for 1 minute until aromatic. Take the parsnips out of the oven, and add them, the stock, and the beans. Bring all contents to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, until the parsnips and beans are tender.
Remove from the heat and let cool for about 10 minutes. Transfer the mixture in batches to a food processor and process until smooth. Return the soup to a clean saucepan and set over low heat. Stir in the cream and season with salt and pepper to taste.  
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Carrot Dill Soup

2 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, peeled, finely chopped
2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced (12-16 medium sized carrots, 8 large carrots, or 6-7 cups sliced carrots)
1 large potato (sweet, white-skinned, or red)
1 clove garlic, crushed
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup light cream
salt to taste
1/2 cup fresh dill

Kitchen Tools:
Sharp knife for cutting carrots and parsnips
large saucepan (pot) with a lid
Large mixing spoon
Emersion blender, food processor, or blender

In a large, sturdy soup pot, melt the butter on medium heat. Cook the onions, carrots, potato, and garlic in the butter for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken stock and pepper and bring the soup to a boil. Turn the heat down so that the soup is just barely bubbling. Cover the pot and cook the soup for 30 minutes.
Stir in 1/2 cup (or 1/6 cup dry) dill weed (<-----I coauthored this Food Network blog!!!). Remove soup from the heat and puree using either a food processor or blender.  
Let cool for a couple of minutes. Stir in the light cream, salt & more pepper (if needed) and garnish with chopped dill before serving.

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Ryan's mouth did thank me, and I’m sure his waste band will too. This says a lot! He once loathed all vegetables, but his heart warmed-up to the carrots and parsnips with each bite.
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Don't overlook this pale-thicker-fleshier twin to Carrot. Ms. Parsnip is at her prime during snow season. She'll mature best under frost's nip, for it's wintry conditions that turn her starch to sugary sweet. She's in season, so she's very inexpensive (I hope she doesn't get "parsnipity" about me saying she's cheap). 
Parsnip contains essential nutrients: 
1. Potassium (helps with muscle weakness, fatigue, and recovery during regular-intense exercise)
2. Manganese (helps absorb other key nutrients, maintains blood sugar, and promotes thyroid function)
3. Folate (protects against neural tube defects in babies and anemia in adults)
4. Vitamin C (improves iron absorption and is an antioxidant)
5. Vitamin K (helps blood to clot and reduces bone loss)
6. Phenolic compounds (antioxidants)
7. Dietary fiber (fills you up, keeps you regular) 
**I don't mean to complicate foods by defining nutrients. I encourage you to look at the whole vegetable versus all the vitamins. Basically their healthy and yummy; eat them. The end.
Before preparing, make sure to wash and peal her pretty. Then get creative: nuke in the microwave; simmer in stalk, milk, bear, wine, or water; sauté the pealed skin for garnishing, steam and mash parsnips with potatoes (the linked recipe is dairy-free), bake chips to crunch or fries to munch (WARNING: these fries contain peanuts), cook sweet n' savory puddin', even dish-up as pie (gluten free pie crust recipe); or bake a cake (deliciousness found here and there) with sugar and spice. 
Sprinkle basil, dill weed, parsley, thyme, and tarragon over Parsnip. Or go bold with this spice combo: cumin, cardamom, coriander, ginger, turmeric and not to miss, garlic and onions.
Ms. Parsnip is only rivaled by her twin vegetable, underground: the one, the popular, Glamazon himself,  Mr. Carrrrrot! Sexy. Edgy. Fierce. His outer orange coat—made-to-fit—accents his slender figure. He also wears purple, red, and yellow jewel tones as the new orange. 
Both Carrot and Parsnip have nutrient-filled appeal. Being the trend setter, however, Carrot wears bright colors that scream beta-carotene and falcarinol (for eye health and cancer fighting antioxidant power).
Carrot & Parsnip Tops
The veggies' feathery tops whisper, "eat me...EAT ME TOO!"   Mix the carrot and parsnip tops with a lettuce salad. You may also want them for garnish. Use common sense and put them where any greens can be found! 
These guys make up for what their roots miss in the vitamin K department. Some claim they have antiseptic qualities; they've been added to mouthwashes or mixed with honey to disinfect sores.
Veggies for the Pickin' in Any Season
Some of these roots are planted mid-summer so that they last through winter! Farmers use the ground as a refrigerator-al-natural. A topping of straw prevents freezing when the shiver of cold air prevails. 
Once on the grocery store shelves, avoid limp, rubbery, or cracked veggies. If they have their tops attached, you can check the stem color. A dark brown base may be a sign of aging. Without the tops, a bright orange color signifies freshness.  
For storage, refrigerate them in a plastic wrap or a tight paper towel.  Make sure to cut the tops off and store them separately. This way, you can preserve them for 2 weeks. Stow them away from apples, pears, potatoes and other produce that might ripen. During this process, ethylene gas is released causing carrots to become bitter.
Finale: THE twins of San Francisco!!!
Boy-girl twins, twin veggies, now fellow girl-girl twins! Sure enough, all twins notices other sets that cross their path.
These two San Fancisicans, delight when onlookers take their picture. This photo is the oldest of the bunch, taken when Ryan and I were wee little babes.
My mom's next trip to San Francisco came about years later. SHE RAN into the twins, quite literally, while racing the San Francisco Marathon! Yes, these girls still paraded the city with their mouth-drop-wardrobe.
And 5 years later!!!!!! As if my mother sent them an invitation, the sisters strutted up! All happenstance! Just call my mom twin baby mama & twin magnet!

To you, Ry-Guy: twins 'til the end! And for every one of my readers, remember, everything good comes in pairs!