No, this is not a hillbilly dinner menu.

On Friday, on my way home from dropping my dear husband off at work (approximately 19 miles/30 km), I drove past 4 skunks and one possum whose guts were all strewn across the highway.  While seeing the carnage is nasty enough, skunks are pretty vicious on the nose as well and the smell sticks around long after you’ve left the poor creature behind.  Sometimes there are dead deer too, although there weren’t any this time.   It got me thinking…why do we see so much road-kill around here?  I think a major part of it is that there is a lot of green space in our county, and there are also a lot of cars on the highway.  Those of us who live in the suburbs often do so because we want to be close to nature reserves and hiking trails.  The irony is that our ability to live in peace with our critter cousins is sabotaged by our technology, no matter our desire.  It’s too bad, really, but we can’t all be Pocahontas. 

My gory drive home reminded me of the one and only time I’ve ended an animal’s life (I don’t count bugs and spiders in this tally, and YES I eat meat with pleasure, but I don’t actually kill those animals directly, okay?).  It was a chipmunk (I think) and I was on a rural highway headed out to work at a museum/farm in the summer.  I was enjoying the early morning drive on an almost-empty highway when it sprinted across the road in front of me.  I had no time to stop, or even slow down, and actually, I’m not even positive I hit it.  But it plagued me for weeks (maybe years?).  I kept thinking of that poor chipmunk’s family waiting for it to come home.  What if there were baby chipmunks that were not going to survive because Mama wasn’t coming home with food?  My guilty heart tortured me until I finally had to concede that there was nothing I could have done.  And my logical mind theorized that it might have escaped unscathed after all.  It WAS a tiny animal – maybe I missed it.  That was at least 12 years ago.  Maybe this confession will allow me to finally let the matter rest (oh goodness, I hope so).

Okay, so on to a topic that is more appetizing.  Celery root! 

Now, you may want to argue with me about whether celery root is a more appetizing topic than road-kill.  But if you’d been at my house for dinner last week, I guarantee you’d agree with me.  I had never cooked with celery root before, but had heard some good things about it.  So I bought one, hoping to expand my repertoire of vegetable dishes. 

Celery root (also called celeriac) is an ugly vegetable.  I’m pretty sure that when they filmed Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, they modeled the Mandrake after this root (just a guess – cannot verify).  Well it turns out that celery root has a similar texture to potatoes, although the flavour is more like really strong celery.  It can be eaten cooked or raw.  The recipe I made was a modified version of a French dish: hachis parmentier.  I didn’t have potatoes, so I mixed the mashed celery root with some mashed chickpeas, and it turned out really well.  And the best part is that on Weight Watchers (yes, I’m a member), celery root has no POINTS (ie. I can eat as much of it as I want)!  If you have not yet discovered this wonderful, but aesthetically challenged, root vegetable, I challenge you to pick one up and take the plunge. 

And lastly, I LOVE tulips.  It’s already tulip season in Northern California, and I’m so happy.  I bought some in pots and put them on my sundeck.  Ahhh, Spring!  My condolences to those of you who are in less temperate climates right now.