New Year challenge...

Dear Ruth

This year Christmas is back at home and I'm banished from the kitchen (it's all a bit territorial at this time of year).

I'm sure this is nothing to do with your amazing efforts to train me up last year and in a way I'm going to really miss the buzz of getting that turkey on the table, with all its many trimmings.

Clearly I need to get back in the kitchen for some other reason, so I'm going to host a small new year's eve party at my flat. Now, the parsnip crisps were so inspired I'm sure you have some other easy to prepare ideas that I'll enjoy practicing so you have I guess 10 days before we start this year's December challenge...

Yours in anticipation


Gone in 60 seconds...

Dear Ruth, 

I admire your perseverance with me, I have been away with the Giants (click here), eating with a blindfold on, ahem, (click here) or generally just completely out of the game, relying on takeaway food after rowing or restaurant food when away from work (if you want the full account, my excuses are laid out here). In fact the last couple of months feel like a write off in terms of improving my cooking skills. I've had very little from the garden this year and am firmly back in some old supper-time habits. 

But you've recaptured my attention with something that looks so simple it would be pretty shameful to ignore, so today I popped out and got me some parsnips:

There really is no point in me reporting the steps because it was sooooooooo simple, I can't believe I actually bother buying crisps at all!

I peeled them in no time, drizzled (ok, drowned) them in sunflower oil and whacked them in. 15 mins later, out they came.

All I can say is that they were out of this bowl as quickly as they came in and I will definitely be experimenting with different veg and like you say different flavours. 


What's next?!!

Yours crispily


Lost but not forgotten. Meanwhile Parsnip Crisps!

Dear Tom

Wakey wakey...

Last heard you went off foraging for blackberries, well, picking from your back garden, and haven't been seen since. maybe those brambles were so strong that you got caught up in them, or maybe you tried hacking them down and found a castle underneath sleeping beauty style? Perhaps you decided that you didn't have enough berries and went off in your boat to the river banks after all and have rowed to sunnier climates?

Blackberries are now SO last season, if you see them leave them for the birds! On your to find list are  now  rose hips, haws, and sweet chestnuts instead, and the new 'in' veg is pumpkin, so often just carved and neglected, and generally undervalued. I made lovely toasted pumpkin seeds this week with a dusting of paprika and salt, and a pumpkin cake.

Love this time of year with all the root vegetables coming into season.

Why not try making some parsnip crisps? Or carrot and beetroot ones instead?

Very easy, tasty and healthy too.

Oven on to gas 5, about 180-200'c will do it

Peel your parsnip(s)

Throw away those outside peelings and then use your peeler to slice it up really thinly until there is nothing left to peel, like this...

Grease a baking tray, pop your peeled parsnip pieces on, lightly and bung it into the oven for about 15-20 minutes

Turn them occasionally, but gently because they will get a bit fragile before getting crisp. You may also have to take a few off and return the rest to the oven. For some reason, known only to themselves, the refuse to cook evenly!!

When they are golden and crunchy they are ready to munch so take them out and sprinkle lightly with salt and enjoy. You could try a slight coating of a mild chilli powder or a winter spice like ginger.

Use the above method for carrots, beetroot and potatoes. In fact, if you buy organic potatoes, wash before peeling for your usual meals and cook the peelings at the same time as your supper is on,  no waste :)

Anyway, all excuses accepted, the more inventive the better

Yours, your ever optimistic friend