I took a trip down to the allotment the other day.
It was muddy. Very muddy.
Hardly surprising though, given the very wet winter we have had so far.
My reason for going was to dig up the remaining parsnips, but a pleasant surprise awaited me.
Several carefully dismantled raised beds were piled neatly by the shed. Wondering where they had come from, I glanced around the neighbouring plots and realised the one adjacent had been totally cleared.
There was no-one around to check with, but I am assuming the gentleman who had the plot could no longer manage it.
If that is the case, I shall miss his jolly chatter, but it was a kind gesture to donate his raised beds to us.
Back to the parsnips. It has to be said that they were not the best!
A bad attack of canker had resulted in brown/orange patches on them, but I managed to salvage enough to make some parsnip patties.
Roasted to a golden hue, parsnips play an important part in Christmas dinner, but they are much more versatile than their traditional festive role.
They make delicious creamy soups or in this case crisp little patties - a vegetarian alternative to a burger!
The recipe is based on one by Nigel Slater published several years ago in Sainsbury's magazine .
700g parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
275g floury potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 tblsp plain flour
1 teasp garam masala
3 tblsp oil for frying
salt and pepper
Cook the potatoes and parsnips separately in boiling water until just tender. Drain and allow to rest for a few moments to evaporate any excess water, then beat together with an electric whisk until light and fluffy.
Add the flour, then season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and the garam masala.
Form into 8 small patties. This is easier with lightly floured hands.
Leave to cool for about 40 minutes then fry in the oil and butter until crisp and golden.
Drain on kitchen paper before serving.
The recipe made enough for two meals for mr digandweed and me.
I decided that they needed something sharp and fresh to accompany them.
First time around, I served them with a lemony avocado and tomato salsa and a lightly fried egg and the second time with a sauce of yoghurt, horseradish and capers and a green salad.
Parsnips, it is said, taste better after a frost. There's been very few of those so far this winter. But that could be about to change. There is talk of snow.....