The MiL is having a birthday dinner on Saturday for her friend Jane (yes, that is her real, honest-to-God name). My gift to Jane? Parsnips.
We got above freezing for the first time in a very long time yesterday. I decided to take advantage of the balmy weather (39 degrees) to go dig up some parsnips. The MiL had mentioned how fond Jane is of parsnips, and that it would be nice to have some for her birthday. I knew this would be the only opportunity to get them out of the ground, so out I went with my shovel.
First I had to scrape away four inches of heavy, melting snow and two inches of sodden straw. After some excavation, I finally found the sad, withered remains of the parsnip tops to tell me where to dig. Then I began digging. The ground wasn't frozen, so that part wasn't particularly hard, but those parsnips were BIG. I kept leveraging them up at what I thought was an appropriate depth, only to find I had snapped off the bottom part and had to go hunting around in the depths with my shovel to find the bottom.
There was cussing, yes. Because it is what I do.
Then I dug up some half-frozen leeks for dinner while I was out there, by which time my hands were half-frozen as well. I trudged my cold way back to the shed to put away the shovel; deposited the dishpan of filthy, mud-encrusted vegetables on the floor in the kitchen to be dealt with later; scrubbed at my dirty hands with limited success; and went to get Cubby, who had awakened from his slumbers.
After dinner, I faced the parsnips once again. Disgusting, mud-coated roots, those parsnips.
First I just rubbed at them with my hands under running water to get the worst of the mud off. The water, naturally, was cold. Very, very cold, as it had been sitting in our very, very cold pipes. It was like holding my hands in a snow-melt stream. By the time I finished Round One of cleaning, my hands were almost as frozen as they had been when I dug the things up.
Next I dumped the muddy water outside, rinsed the dishpan and dumped that water outside, and then attacked the parsnips with a vegetable scrubbing brush for a more thorough cleaning. In that same cold water. By the time I finished that part, my hands were once again half-frozen AND my arms were cramping from the vigorous scrubbing.
Then I dumped THAT dirty water outside, rinsed the dishpan and dumped that water outside. Then I finally hung the dishpan up, put the parsnips to dry a bit on a dish towel, and went to warm my hands over the woodstove.
As you can see, birthday parsnips from the garden are way harder than just shelling out some money at a nice, warm store for a nice, clean gift.
Maybe next time, I'll just get a card.