Today I celebrated Christmas with my family at my home. It was so nice to be able to welcome everyone after cancelling so many family celebrations due to the work on the house. Family tradition says that after several turkey dinners it is time for ham instead. So I prepared ham and scalloped potatoes plus mashed potatoes for those who hate scalloped. I picked up some sweet potatoes and parsnips at the market this morning and they are on the menu too. The final touch is Escalloped Parsnips from the 1906 Berlin Cook Book. The recipe was contributed by Mrs. B. Cowan. I selected parsnips that were local and likely to have been touched by frost. That makes them nice and sweet.
My sister was kind enough to peel the parsnips for me and then I cut off the tops and bottoms before putting them in a pan with water to boil. Once they were soft I put them in a casserole dish and poured in the prepared sauce and stirred. I’d made the sauce by melting two tablespoons of butter and two tablespoons of flour together before slowly adding two cups (1 pint) of milk. I seasoned it with a few shakes from the salt and pepper shakers. Once everything was mixed I sprinkled the 1/4 cup of bread crumbs on top and dotted it with butter. The casserole dish went into the oven at 350 F. to bake alongside the other food already there. After twenty minutes I removed the escalloped parsnips. The top was beginning to brown and the sauce was bubbling. I served the escalloped parsnips along with the rest of the Christmas dinner and everyone had a taste.
Mrs. B. Cowan is a mystery. I can’t find a man with the initial B. in either the 1901 or 1911 census in the area and the Waterloo Region Generations website.
The first person to sample Escalloped Parsnips was my brother. He doesn’t like parsnips but he liked them. He thought the sauce contained cheese! The confirmed parsnip hater was brave enough to sample them but they didn’t convert him. Everyone else really liked the dish and my sister asked for seconds! The parsnips were naturally sweet and the sauce complemented them well. If your family enjoys scalloped potatoes you might want to give escalloped parsnips a try.
Mrs. B. Cowan
1 quart parsnips, 1 pint milk, 2 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons flour, salt and pepper to suit taste, 1/4 cup bread crumbs, 1 tablespoon butter, on top of other mixture. Cook parsnips then put them in a deep dish, put butter and flour in a frying pan add milk, and let just come to a boil, then pour over parsnips. Bake in oven 20 minutes.