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Celeriac Symphony

Posted 1/19/2017 5:53pm by Christy and Chris Kantlehner.
The following thread of recipe ideas and cooking tips came tumbling out of my fingertips and into a tiny touchscreen keyboard on my iPhone this morning. A recipient of the pop-up Winter Veggie Box had emailed to get a recap of the contents of the box. I replied 5 days late with a copy and paste of the list of items. She replied thank you, told me about the veggies she had already prepared and enjoyed and revealed that the Celery Root was the mystery veggie!
 
I do recall my aunt Ellen referring to it as "the hand grenade" when she did our CSA in 2009 - our first year of the CSA. She wanted to support us, but sometimes she found the shares bewildering and/or overwhelming in quantity. In fact, the number one reason people choose to discontinue CSA membership is that there is "too much food." We want you to know that we have been hearing you! It has got to be a positive human trait to feel bad about wasting food. We are going to attempt to control ourselves this year and make smaller shares. We will put the target value of each week's box at $20 instead of $28, as in years past. In the summer we will not do any boxing, but our "Suggested Summer Share" chalkboard will have a list of veggies valued at $20.
 
celery root
 
Anyway, as I thought about one of my most beloved vegetables, Celery Root, I was inspired to share some ideas for using this veggie. No pressure on executing any of these suggestions, though. As long as this thing is dry and stored in a plastic bag (preferably in the veggie drawer, but could also be shoved to some far reach of the fridge that husbands, sons, and invalids will never find), it will last for months. A true source of survival for our four season New England! Yippee!
 
Some of my fave things to do w/ celery root:
Once peeled with a knife of course! Cut one end so it sits flat on the board then use vertical downward cuts to remove the peel.
 
- roast on a baking sheet in the oven (350 to 425 - can vary according to whatever else is already in the oven) w/ olive oil salt, pepper and perhaps a fresh herb. Hot tips: flip halfway through cooking w/ a spatula to get more sides browned. Try different shapes for different effects: French fry shapes, cubes, chips. Stick around the kitchen and test fork tenderness to determine when halfway through cooking time is. Once you are familiar w/ cooking time of the piece size you chose you can be less vigilant 🙂
 
- celery root gratin (with or without other root veggies). Best to use a mandolin to cut thin and adequately uniform slices. Hot tip for mandolins- SACRIFICE THE NUB! It is not worth cutting off your finger tip! Let the nub go . . . 
 
- great in stew or pot roast
 
- it's pretty decent shredded raw. Especially w/ other raw roots - daikon, carrot, beets (long as you aren't in the anti-beet camp or have a problem with your entire veggie slaw being pink!) - make a simple mustardy vinaigrette to pull it all together - add freshness by throwing in some chopped parsley or arugula and a squeeze of lemon (through a little strainer, of course - lemon seeds are wicked bitter). 
 
Vinaigrette Ratio
Tsp Dijon mustard 
Tsp of any jam or honey
Tsp of finely diced shallot or red onion, or even scallion in a pinch or garlic if you like it hot.
1/3 vinegar: 1 oil (this ratio may be expanded or contracted)
I typically get out my Pyrex measuring cup and fill it up to the 1/3 cup line with some combo of vinegars that suits my fancy but you can absolutely just use one kind. I tend to like cider vinegar, balsamic, white balsamic, rice wine, red wine, white wine, sherry, champagne, or white balsamic. 
Whisk the vinegar into the Dijon, jam, shallots until blended.
Now that you're measuring cup is empty, fill it to the 1 cup line with oil. I like to use half tasty extra virgin olive oil (no schwaggy cheap olive oil). half organic canola or some other neutral oil like: grape seed, sunflower, safflower. Whatever was organic and inexpensive - we pop a lot of popcorn on the stove top - but I digress!) note that this half and half oil ratio is totally flexible. If you are feeling rich use your fancy olive oil. If not go heavier on the sunflower oil. If you've gone for a more Asian style include some peanut or toasted sesame oil. Make sure to label if you decide to use nut oils! Hazelnut or walnut oils add a certain "je ne sais quoi" as well. Especially if you are serving a roasted beet or poached pear salad finished w/ toasted walnuts or hazelnuts. You know - really pulls the room together 😉
 
- celery root purée (do half potatoes half celery root for best texture - cutting potato dice slightly larger than the celery root to even out cooking time. Always boil in salted water for flavor reasons.)
 
the big P.S. -  I am able to indulge in these ramblings because I am limited to positions in which my left ankle is above my heart, with a giant splint and ice bags on it. Surgery on my ankle yesterday was a success.
 
I became a "powder hound" during the portion of our winter trip spent in Salt Lake City (Brighton), Utah. I got in two days of amazing snow and skiing with my husband, Farmer Chris, and his buddies and brother. They challenged me to be a better skier, trying steeper stuff, navigating a bowl wrought with cliffs and trees, and so on. I was doing awesome. The softness of the snow was so fun! I learned to ski in Rangeley, Maine, where i grew up until I was seven years old. Hawk, Patrick Hawksley, my ski school instructor, taught us how to ski ice moguls and side slide down steep sheer ice when you find yourself in that predicament at the top of Broncobuster.
 
I started skiing at 2.5 years old. My parents were both ski instructors in Colorado and were even married on skis at their workplace! My mom taught skiing when we lived in Maine and my dad would build ski racks and such things so that my brothers and I always had a season pass. Skiing was a way of life. Even the public school let out at noon on Wednesday and packed every student in the building (K thru 12, I kid you not. and this was a regional school) into a school bus. We all rode the bus to our second half of the Wednesday school day - ski school.
 
After we moved to Massachusetts and certainly during my college years (no $) I did not ski much at all. Maybe once or twice a year when there was a deal somewhere. After I graduated from UMass Amherst in December of 2001, I headed straight to live with my best friend in Bozeman, Montana, having purchased an early bird ski pass to Bridger Bowl in September and lining up a farm internship in Jacksonville, Oregon to begin in April. So I really got to ski a lot that year! I slapped together sandwiches and cheese steak subs at The Pickle Barrel part-time and the boss even took me and another worker to Big Sky one time! He took all his employees in turn.
 
I went on to intern at Spirit Gardens CSA in Oregon (having met the lesbian couple who owned it while waiting for a ferry during my semester abroad in Costa Rica). They have since sold the farm so it is no longer in existence.  The growing season ended, and I was able to get a job teaching kids to ski at Mt. Ashland, outside of Ashland, OR. A free pass and free rentals and lessons were the perks of my job, so for the second season in a row I got to ski pretty often! I even rented a snowboard and took a couple snowboard lessons (the take-away - weight on the downhill foot). It's one of those mountains with great snow, and then you drive down into the valley and it never snows there (hardly at least). I also started work at The Peerless Restaurant in Ashland, with married couple and owners, Mary Hinds and Stu Stein. They even let me live in their guest bedroom until I had saved enough to start renting my own place. They knew me from Spirit Gardens - I would roll up with a cooler of lettuce after the Ashland Farmer's Market. They knew I had only been paid $200/month and were able to pay me very little in cash since they provided my housing. It was culinary school for me. I did all varieties of prep work, learned knife skills, all sorts of techniques and basic principles and recipes. I manned/womanned the "pantry station" during service: opening oysters, plating salads and desserts. Prep for the station included making all of the cookies to accompany the creme brûlée, making all of the salad dressings, preparing the ganache for plate decorating, etc. Stu even had me be the recipe tester for the book he was working on, The Sustainable Kitchen. To bring this full circle, many of those cooking tips and certainly my vinaigrette ratio in the celeriac rant above came from Stu and Mary.
 
oh yeah! my ankle story! So i became a powder hound. on the third day of our ski trip, which was also the final day of our 16 day trip to stay with family in TX and road trip via national parks to SLC, I ran a little late in the morning. I got Graham ready for his third day of ski school, at the end of which he could go up the lifts with an adult, ski, stop, turn, and even got himself up 3 times! (can't hold a proud mama back!) I got him to ski school, met the boys, took one glorious run, saw a big powder field to the left as we rode up the lift and started my second run. Patrick, Jon, Mike, and Chris opted for the trees, which I am a little afraid of, so I kept veering to my right, trying to find that powder field. I found it! It was awesome. There were maybe four other tracks going down. I was literally thinking, "this is soooo fun!" Then the trail narrowed down to a chute between trees full of "whoop-dee-whoops" to use a technical term. I may have been going too fast. At this point it went by really fast.
 
I'm not sure if I remember accurately or not. But I think I flew off of one whoop-dee and crashed into the next one. No dramatic spill, yard sale-ing down the hill, just a very hard impact into the next mound. Once I had popped out of my skis and stopped screaming, I could see that my skis were completely submerged in the snow with just the bindings sticking out. The sensation in my left ankle was just crazy intense impact. I thought to myself, "i just broke my ankle." i have never broken a bone in my body before but I just had this sneaking suspicion. In fact I shot a quick text to Chris "maybe just broke ankle." A nice local lady skiing with visiting friends stopped, put my skis in an "X" behind me, had her friends go to the lift and order a ski patrol toboggan, and stayed with me. The pain was quite intense. I tried to go back to the breathing techniques advised for giving birth. I loosened my ski boot as the swelling commenced. The ski patrol guy (who was super-hot - don't tell Chris. I don't think he ever reads my blogs anyway) arrived and bungeed me tight into his sled. I had to laugh despite the pain as he shouted loudly at merging of trails, "Toboggan!" What a spectacle. As soon as I saw Chris at the base of the lift I burst into my first tears of the incident. The image of him trying to struggle all of our bags and our four year old through the airport the next morning and then waiting on me hand and foot (or hand and ankle - joke credit: Heather Willey) just hit me and I started to cry. Luckily, my insurance (uhh, sorry taxpayers, I am probably the biggest recipient in Massachusetts of health care - we qualify for Mass Health. I have hypothyroid, depression, Type 1 diabetes, and now a broken ankle that required surgery and all of the associated prescriptions that go with it. Aaah, the hidden costs of cheap food!) Wait! Is this sentence still going? I called home and found out, with great relief! that my insurance would cover my treatment at the urgent care facility right at the mountain since I was out of state. The cutest radiologist ever, in her alpine sweater and furry-top snow boots, was able to take X-rays of the foot. Affirmative. two fractures. They hooked me up with a walking boot which they made me promise not to remove and a pair of crutches. All this was settled by the time Chris had to pick up Graham from the A.M. ski school session and meet the boys for lunch. I was able to chill out in the urgent care lodge so Graham could do the second half-day of ski school while the boys got in their last afternoon of fabulous skiing!
And by some divine stroke of great luck, Chris' friend from Boston who had joined us in Utah for this trip, was on the very same flight home to Boston the next day. He pushed my wheelchair and kept track of Graham at the airport while Chris returned the rental car. He helped us get all the baggage, including the wheelchair girl, to the taxi after our luggage was all claimed. 
So I would say that many, many things about this were very lucky! At least it was the last day of vacation. At least I got the first two days of skiing in. At least Jon was on our flight. At least it is office work season anyway. And maybe having surgery and needing to heal this wound will be the final impetus for me to once and for all get my diabetes under control. Every carb accounted for! I happened to watch a documentary about legendary jazz musician, Clark Terri, CT, who was a diabetic that went blind and had to eventually have both legs amputated. Long term consequences are difficult to manage in the present. Especially when you love ice cream. Especially when your meds aren't working for depression anymore and you get on a self-destructive carb bingeing, ice cream overdosing tear. Good news! I am on a cocktail of pharmaceuticals that is helping me feel like me! I find all of this pill taking so irritating and contrary to some of my founding principles. I got passionate about all of this farm stuff after realizing that Agri-Chemical companies own much of the seed supply. I was disgusted by the letters in my Chemistry major mailbox, offering fabulous starting salaries right out of college to work for pharmaceutical companies! They are shanghai-ing all the smart kids who didn't happen to take Cultural Anthropology with Jean Forward or Sustainable Agriculture with David Holm. I became passionate.
and now i am target pharmacy's customer numero uno. but what i feel bad about is that I think the state is paying more than it needs to for my medications. I get the feeling that there are parasites and shrouds of red tape adding expense every step of the way. And somehow I am blessed to live in Massachusetts, have Romneycare, and pay $3.65 each for my prescriptions for insulin, thyroid hormone, antidepressants, and whatnot. I have found myself off of Mass Health a few times and had to pay $263 for a vial of insulin out of pocket. or hundreds for my test strips. Something wrong there. I just hope Mass taxpayers aren't paying pharmaceutical companies $260 bucks each time I pick up my insulin! 
Now I know it is not wise to plunge into the political as a small business owner who really wants to target every human being that eats food and is going by our farmstand. Just something has pushed me over the deep end. I have started making political quips. I have started sharing political posts on Facebook. I hope my honesty and transparency doesn't drive away any disagreers! Maybe it's all this time on the couch. Maybe it's the Percocet.
 
If you are still reading this email, holy smokes! Mention it at the next farmstand and we will give you a free beet!
 
Thanks for supporting me and my family!
Your high ankle friend and farmer,
Christy Kantlehner
www.whitebarnfarm.org