Monday, August 23, 2010

Blame it on the parsnips

One of the rules for judges at the Bonner County Fair this year suggests that good judges should come rested and ready to concentrate on their jobs.  Must be my subconscious zeroed in on that rule last night cuz I have to judge the creative writing entries this afternoon. 

Whenever something important is happening the next day, my subconscious and possibly my brain conspire to keep me awake the night before.

Something important happened every day when I was teaching school, so the insomnia card flashed across my mind virtually every night of my last 20-plus years as a teacher.  

'Twasn't fun, as any insomniac will tell you.

I slept all of 3 1/2  hours last night in two different segments---from 9-10 p.m. and from about 3-5:23 a.m.  Whenever I have insomnia and actually get some sleep, I leap out of bed and smile cuz at least I got a little rest to face the big day ahead.

Retirement has been a good antidote to these problems.  Such nights have happened fewer and farther between over the past eight years.  For that I feel blessed.

As the myriad of constantly interchanging scenes and faces rolled past my mental picture show throughout the night, one thought kept recurring.  Could it be the parsnips that caused this particular night-time agony?

After all, I pulled up a parsnip yesterday from my garden.  It certainly wasn't "show quality" for entering in the Bonner County Fair vegetable competition. 

I don't think the judges take too well to those extra appendages hanging of the sides of parsnips or carrots, for that matter----unless they've [the judges] suffered insomnia, that is.

This particular parsnip seemed to be mature enough, measuring about eight inches long and about two inches across at the top.  So, I decided to add parsnips to our dinner menu last night.  The combo included Bill's barbecued chicken breasts and my homegrown salad (with one of those precious garden cucumbers) and the first picking of green beans.  

I had researched parsnip recipes and had, a year or so ago, heard Mark Reiner, who lives up Grouse Creek,  talk about how much he liked fried parsnips.  

I found what seemed to be the ideal recipe and easy too.  Discarding its baby legs, I sliced the parsnip incorrectly.  The recipe says to slice it vertically into strips.  I sliced mine into the round pieces, like a carrot.

Then, I heated up some olive oil and threw the slices into the frying pan, letting them sizzle softly on a low heat and turning them to make sure both sides were crispy.  After removing them from the pan, I globbed on some Imperial margarine with salt and pepper.  

Mighty tasty, if you ask me. 

I was so impressed with the still hot slices that I jabbed one with a fork and took it upstairs for Bill to sample.  I think he liked it, but he didn't have a chance to check out the flavor in detail cuz I ate the rest of the parsnip.  

And, now I think I may have paid.  One of my theories about insomnia is that when you suddenly introduce anything dramatically different into your diet, the body will get you back in a variety of ways.  In this case, I think all the parsnip poison went straight to my brain, functioning as a hyper-stimulant.  

This belief stems from the fact that the images of my insomnia blockbuster last night seemed to be much more numerous than those of my past nights of tossing and turning. And, among those images---appearing like subliminal messaging----was that white parsnip with its extra baby legs constantly dancing across my mental stage. 

I seriously think my theory could hold water, just like my body does when I eat too much salad. I suppose I could test it out a time or two while harvesting those parsnips, but next time I'm gonna make darn sure that I don't have creative writing to judge or a speech to give the next day.  

In the meantime, there's a busy day at the fair ahead.  When I'm finished judging all that writing----if I don't fall asleep on the job---I'll mosey on around the main exhibit building to see if the other judges are weary enough to put ribbons on my dill, oregano, sweet peas, carrots (with no extra legs), apple jelly and red swiss chard.

If they do, I'll come home happy, satisfied and ready for a good night's sleep.

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