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Fall Home and Car Care Special Section Archives The Altamont Enterprise, September 23, 2010

Rooting around for fall recipes: Bounty from your garden makes marvelous meals

By Saranac Hale Spencer

Andrea Chesman has discovered her roots and in her latest book, Recipes from the Root Cellar, she gives traditionally inspired recipes for preparing fall’s bounty.

Chesman realized the value of root vegetables when she was working on a cookbook called Serving up the Harvest, which followed the growing season and assigned a section to each vegetable by season.  She did a lot of cooking with fall vegetables during the preparation of that book and decided that they deserved more attention.

It took her more than a year to convince her publisher, Storey Publishing, to get behind the idea, she said.

Chesman began cooking as a Cornell student in the 1970s, when she worked in a Chinese restaurant — starting as a waitress and ending up in the kitchen.  “I cooked my way though college,” she said, listing the various institutions for which she cooked.

She came to writing cookbooks “sort of through the back door,” she said, since she had edited political newsletters before getting a job at Garden Way in Vermont.  None of the men on the staff wanted to edit cookbooks, she said, explaining, “I was unusually wise and said I would edit cookbooks.”

When she was charged with editing a book on pickling and couldn’t find contributors, she began writing recipes for pickles and relishes.  That was in 1982.  She has since published a score books.

Her process for creating recipes, Chesman said, is ingredient focused.  “I let the vegetables suggest ways of being cooked,” she said.

For her latest book, she looked to English, Scottish, and Irish recipes for ideas and inspiration, since those cultures have a tradition of preparing root vegetables.

“I get carried away with the names,” she said of some discoveries she’s made while researching for the book.  Rumbledethumps is one of her favorite examples of a great name — it is, essentially, mashed potatoes with leaks or cabbage, she said.

Commonly grown root vegetables include carrots, beets, parsnips, radishes, turnips, and rutabagas.

Maple-Balsamic Root Vegetables

For those just beginning to cook with root vegetables, Chesman suggested a Maple roasted recipe:

There’s no question that roasting is one of the best ways to prepare root vegetables, as this sweet-and-sour vegetable medley proves. Feel free to mix and match different vegetables – they are all terrific with the maple-balsamic glaze, though the inclusion of beets makes the combination particularly colorful.

2 carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes

1 large rutabaga, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes

1 large beet, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes

1 onion, halved and slivered (sliced vertically)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Lightly oil a large sheet pan (preferred) or shallow roasting pan.

2.  Mound the carrots, rutabaga, beet, and onion on the sheet pan. Drizzle the oil over the vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Spread out in a single layer in the pan.

3. Roast for about 45 minutes, stirring or shaking the pan occasionally for even cooking, until the vegetables are lightly browned and mostly tender.

4.  Meanwhile, stir together the vinegar, maple syrup, and melted butter in a small bowl.  Pour over the vegetables and roast for another 10 minutes, until the vegetables are well-browned and completely tender.

5.  With a metal spatula, turn and toss the vegetables in the glaze to make sure all the pieces are well coated.  Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.  Serve hot.

From Recipes from the Root Cellar by Andrea Chesman © 2010.  Used with permission from the author.  All rights reserved.

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