Parsnip, ginger and lime purée

Parsnip, ginger and lime purée.

Parsnip, ginger and lime purée.

I’ve had lines from two songs stuck in my head recently. One is Nina Simone saying, “I And I sing because I know yeah…I would know how it feels to be free,” and the other is Cee Lo Green saying, “And I sing because I’m happy, And I sing because I’m free (I’m free).” And today being Martin Luther King Jr.’s Day eve seems like a good time to think about what it means to be free. “Freedom” means different things to everybody, and it means more to those who don’t have it. Freedom from oppression, freedom from prejudice, freedom from poverty, freedom to say what you need to say, freedom to keep quiet. Freedom to do the work you need to do. To some, freedom means not having to work, to others it means being able and allowed to work. Nina Simone says, “Freedom means to me, NO FEAR!” And she talks about being free from all labels–from country, religion, race, even from herself. She defines freedom as a new way of seeing, as a chance to be a “little less like me.” She’d learn to fly, and she’d look down and see herself, and she wouldn’t know herself – she’d have new hands, new vision. She tells us that the Bible says be transformed by the renewal of your mind. And James Baldwin, a friend of Nina Simone and of Martin Luther King Jr. echoes her when he says, “Any real change implies the breakup of the world as one has always known it, the loss of all that gave one an identity, the end of safety. And at such a moment, unable to see and not daring to imagine what the future will now bring forth, one clings to what one knew, or dreamed that one possessed. Yet, it is only when a man is able, without bitterness or self-pity, to surrender a dream he has long cherished or a privilege he has long possessed that he is set free — he has set himself free — for higher dreams, for greater privileges.” It’s a freedom from our own prejudices as well as those of others. I like to think of the sort of ecstatic freedom that Cee Lo Green describes, which seems to me like a freedom from self-doubt, a freedom to create, a freedom to be whoever you need to be, as eccentric and different as that makes you. NO FEAR.

So today’s Sunday interactive playlist is songs about freedom, whatever that may mean to you. And songs about feeling so happy and free that you have to sing.

And here’s a parsnip purée. This dish was crazy! It’s such a strong collection of flavors, and to me they’re completely perfect together, but I will admit that it was too much for the boys. It’s quite light and smooth and pleasing. You’ll want to eat it with something strong flavored…like curry, maybe, or spicy chilly, because it’s cool and sweet-tart, with a gingery kick. Almost like savory sherbet, if that doesn’t put you off it completely!

And here’s a link to your interactive playlist.

3 largish parsnips
1 cup (+/-) milk
1-inch cube fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3 T butter
2 T ricotta cheese
juice of one lime (or to taste)
salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper

Peel the parsnips and cut them into 1 inch chunks. If the core is very woody cut it out. Put the parsnips in a medium-sized pot over medium-low heat and pour in the milk. You don’t want to cover the parsnips completely, it should come about 3/4 of the way up. Add the ginger. Cook for about 20 minutes until the parsnip is tender enough to pierce with a butter knife. Pour the whole mixture into a blender or food processor with the other ingredients, and process until completely smooth. Add more butter or lime to taste.

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