Back in "The Beet Goes On" I said that the next root vegetable to conquer would be the parsnip as big as my arm lurking in the basement. Its size and viciousness posed a threat to the cats, and one cat has already died so I thought, better cook this thing up.
My father has fond memories of my mother cooking parsnips in a most tasty way that he can't exactly remember. My father isn't one of your more observant people, and his memories of my mother and my memories of her can diverge significantly, shall we say. So we cling to any shared recollections. And I do heartily concur that my mother did cook up parsnips one Thanksgiving, and that they were quite good.
So, for my Dad's 76th birthday (Feb. 14, celebrated Feb. 15), I made Parsnip Cake. I found it to be insanely delicious, but wait, I did change a couple of things. Emeril says to slice the two 9-inch layers in half. I didn't do that because I didn't feel like it. Also, I did not use all the simple syrup he used. Remember the man is Southern and those folks subsist on sugar and put it in every possible dish. Sugar makes sense in a cake, especially a parsnip cake, but I used only about 2/3 of the syrup. I also used black walnuts, which added more bitterness than regular walnuts would have, but I toasted them first. What with a cup of black walnuts in the cake and another cup in the frosting, and the parsnips, and the cinnamon, this cake had so much depth and interest that it was completely satisfying. Plus I served it with coffee ice cream, which was perfect. (We must have Breyer's ice cream with cake at every birthday party in our household, even if it's overkill.)
The other large hunk of food that I vanquished with great success was a 4 1/2 lb. eye round cut of beef. I'm not vegetarian but not excited by indecent slabs of beef, but my father does love his sauerbraten, and who else is going to cook the guy sauerbraten. It was a bit labor-intensive but totally worth it because I confess it was a lovely way to do up a hunk of cow flesh. It calls for gingersnaps, and even though I had just made them for church fellowship hour, I forgot about the sauerbraten and ate them. Oops! Anyway, Dan made egg noodles. We feasted, except for Will, who kvetched about shapes, textures, and presentation. Nothing new there.