Ronnie Paul: A taste of stardom
As I contemplate yet another birthday, I humbly admit to an unrealized dream.
I know it’s late in life to develop my inner rock star, but the thought of strutting across the stage in black leather pants and my hair piled into a three-foot tower, excites me as much as perfecting the puffiest souffle. I imagine the glitz and cover story in People magazine and the applause of fanatical fans as I sing about unrequited love. Such fantasies perk up even the most dismally rainy day.
My mother had musical dreams for me. Her first attempt was to sign me up for piano lessons with Sabine, a Hungarian teacher who came to our house every Monday. Each lesson began with me marching around the living room, clapping my hands, and yelling “Hey”, but after a month of never touching the piano keys, my mother let me stop.
Although I made singing appearances in several talent shows and even once in a crowd of sisters, cousins, and aunts in a junior high school operetta, my musical career progressed no further than a school auditorium.
Ten years ago, I finally took the initiative to bloom musically. I hate to sound negative, but I must honestly admit that my diligent practice of finger-picking the four strings of my ukulele, probably won’t ever lead to stardom.
You’ll never see me at Carnegie Hall, but I always feel like a star in the kitchen. I hope you applaud these recipes.
To get your kicks, try this underground soup.
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 pressed garlic cloves
1 cup peeled and chopped parsnip
1 cup peeled and chopped turnip
1 cup peeled and chopped rutabaga
½ cup chopped carrot
2 cups chopped sweet potato
½ cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 cups veggie broth
1 15-ounce can lentils
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Your chop size determines the roasting time, so cut the parsnip,turnip, rutabaga, carrot and sweet potato so that they’re all the same size (mine were ½-inch cubes). Toss them with the 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the garlic, and spread on a baking sheet. My cut veggies needed 15 minutes at 400 degrees to become tender.
Next, heat the tablespoon of olive oil in a soup pot, add the onion, and sauté until soft.
Add the roasted veggies, broth, lentils, cinnamon, bay leaf, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Stir well and bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered for at least one hour before serving. Rule of thumb: the longer the simmer, the better the soup.
Serve with a splotch of the following.
Here’s what happened to my post-holiday cranberry collection.
1 cup orange juice
11 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
2 Fuji apples, chopped
10 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
¼ cup sweetened dried cranberries
Combine everything and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes until fairly thick, then chill.
Top each bowl of the above soup with a dollop of Cranberry Topper. This relish is also fabulous atop a cheese-spreaded cracker, as a rice condiment, and included in a sandwich.
Ronnie Paul is a Nevada County freelance writer.
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