Monday, March 24, 2014

Apple Celeriac Potato Soup (what's CELERIAC??)

What IS this ugly looking vegetable?? 
Meet Celeriac, also called Celery Root (though it is not simply the root of the common celery plant that you know and love). A hearty root vegetable that often shows up in winter farm shares due to its storability and long growing season. It has a distinct flavor, sometimes described as a cross between celery and parsley. Additionally, half a cup contains only 30 calories, no fat, and provides an excellent source of dietary fiber. It can be prepared many different ways, even eaten raw in some dishes. See my favorite way to prep celeriac below, warm and comforting Apple Celeriac Potato Soup. Perfect to warm your bones during this lingering early spring chill!

Recipe gratefully borrowed from Cedar Circle Farm.


  • 1 lg celeriac peeled and chopped.
  • 2-3 med potatoes washed and chopped, leave skins on. (any kind of potato)
  • 1 lg carrots chopped.
  • 1 lg apple peeled and chopped.
  • 1 med onion peeled and diced (red or yellow onion).
  • 1 qt unsalted vegetable stock (or 1 unsalted bouillon cube)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 t dried thyme
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 2 T salt use 2 T per gallon, adjust if desired.
  • to taste pepper Make it hot pepper if you like that.
  • 2-3 lg collard greens stack the leaves and then roll them tightly. Slice the 'roll' into very thin ribbons. (Collards are optional. They add great color, and are delicious.)


Sauté onions and thyme in oil over medium heat for a few minutes until the onions are browned and translucent. Add the celeriac, carrot, and potatoes. Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring often to keep it from burning, until all is infused with the thyme oil. Add stock, apples, salt, and pepper. Add more stock (or water) if needed to cover all of the vegetables. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15-20 minutes until potatoes are cooked.
Add maple syrup. Blend with an immersion blender, or blend in batches in a blender and return to soup pot. Stir in collard ribbons. Let stand on very low heat for 15 minutes to soften the collards. Serve hot, garnish with hot chili flakes, cheddar cheese, and/or parsley as you like.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Asking for Help

Communication allows us to give AND also to receive. But what is it about asking for what we need, or asking for help that is so challenging sometimes? Maybe we don't want to impose on people, or we would rather avoid the yucky feelings that come with being rejected. But if we don't ask, we take away the opportunity for the people in our life to show up in the way we need.

I hear this all the time from the patients I work with. An older patient who needs a ride to the clinic might never ask her children because "they are busy with their own lives and families." Or a patient will decline certain activities, like attending a support group for their problem, because it's "too much of a burden" on their spouse. And I am guilty too. I often hesitate before asking friends or family for help that occurs to me as inconvenient or presumptuous. But I can see how this is not serving us as people and communicators.

There are three hidden secrets to healthy and satisfying Asks:

First is getting clear and honest with yourself about what you need and who can provide it. When I hear my older patients say they can't ask their children for help I think (and sometimes say) "How many baseball games did you drive them to in their youth?" Or when people get concerned about burdening their spouse I think "Would you want to help them if they needed the same?" It seems acceptable to me for these people to at least have the opportunity to respond "yes or no" to The Ask. But sometimes in the moment it's hard to see this logic, when our own fears and concerns get in the way. Getting clear on exactly what it is we need, and then recognizing that none of us needs to "do it alone" can help clear the path for your Ask.

Second, share your story. Share the reasons why you are asking, and maybe even share about how difficult it is for you to ask. When people hear your story, hear how important the situation is, and hear how crucial they are to making it happen, they become enrolled in the outcome. When we belittle the request, quickly adding "but it's ok if you are too busy". Or when we make ourselves small and silent by not sharing the importance of the job, we dilute our communication and can't come through clearly. Breathe, stay calm and clear, and Ask from the heart.

Finally, we must let go of the outcome. If we can Ask with a spirit of invitation (and not of expectation, self deprecation, or guilt) we allow much more space for the response. If someone says "yes!" we must trust that it's because they can and want to help, and they see the importance of the Ask. If they say no, it means they can't or don't want to, and/or they don't see the importance. Either way, it's simply the facts, it's not bad or good, doesn't prove they love you more or less, and doesn't mean you should or shouldn't ask for something else in the future.

This process takes a certain amount of authenticity and vulnerability which can be hard and scary for some, but also very rewarding. By asking, and making space for any answer that comes back, we create the opportunity for our loved ones to express themselves and also to contribute to our lives. This is a powerful thing and a gift!

What are your experiences with asking for what you need or want. What have you learned that has helped with this process? Comments warmly welcomed below!