I should start by saying this: I am grateful to be writing this post today—not just because of the lunch of rainbow root vegetables or afternoon of hours spent photographing them that it represents, but because, about a week or so ago, pacing the floors at 2 AM while alternating between holding my sides and massaging my temples, the idea of writing a food blog post—or really, cooking or caring about cooking—seemed like something I might never be able to do again.
I can tell you now that the pain was from a kidney infection, developed from a UTI, and it came complete with stones and intense throbbing and a weakening of my desire to live, to be honest with you. I’ve never experienced anything like this. I joked to some friends in passing this weekend, how can someone have that much pain and not get a baby at the end of it! But really, it was bad. I would look at pictures of me and Tim in the office, on our honeymoon or baking a cake last summer, and I would think, who is that happy girl in those pictures? Was there really a time when I didn’t feel this much pain? and I couldn’t remember what that felt like.
What made this particular pain so difficult, I think, was its duration, lasting, at least in some measure, for over ten continuous days. This was no 24-hour bug or weekend flu; it felt unending. Under the weight of it, I grew more and more weary, more and more discouraged, and eventually, more and more aware that this infection was no longer just physical.
In “When the Darkness Will Not Lift,” (which you can download for free online), John Piper writes about C.H. Spurgeon, a well-known preacher from nineteenth-century England who tasted depression caused by physical pain. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says of Spurgeon,
That great man was subject to spiritual depression, and the main explanation in his case was undoubtedly the fact that he suffered from a gouty condition which finally killed him. He had to face this problem of spiritual depression often in a most acute form. A tendency to acute depression is an unfailing accompaniment of the gout which he inherited from his forebears. And there are many, I find, who come to talk to me about these matters, in whose case it seems quite clear to me that the cause of the trouble is mainly physical.
Gout, it so happens, is closely tied with kidney pain (among other things) and so when I read these words, I found great kinship with Spurgeon, particularly in the way in which his experience linked physical pain with spiritual depression—that’s what this was for me.
It’s not that these days were without comfort: Tim was as supportive and wonderful as you’d expect him to be, my true partner in healing, making me special drinks and running to the store and reading the Bible to me in bed and massaging my back to help me fall asleep at night. Several of my friends were praying for me. My dad was pure compassion on the phone. There was this series of posts that fed me truth when I needed to hear it.
But we were supposed to go to Baltimore last Wednesday, just for the night, on a trip we’d planned months ago because of $37 Southwest flights and a generous wedding gift from my brother, and then we couldn’t because I was in too much pain.
But we are just newly married, still practically honeymooning, and things this difficult aren’t supposed to happen when you’re tasting so much happiness.
But why are we dealing with this when other people aren’t, people who are able to enjoy life and care about what they’ll wear today and get excited about their baby’s first birthday or a promotion at work or a new recipe they’re trying.
These familiar voices are not a new affliction, but over the last few weeks, they’ve been more persistent. Maybe you know them too? They’ve kept me in bed, they’ve kept me from the blog, they’ve made heavy my heart.
And while fighting them can be tiring, I am glad to tell you that at times when you least expect it, light breaks.
Because there comes a moment, amidst the small everyday choices of “waiting patiently” that involve getting out of bed to see the sunshine, of asking for help from the One who understands, of doing some dishes, of smelling some fresh air, when you’re surprised to see, not that you’re cured of all discouragement for good but that, at least, you want to spend time in the kitchen again, you’re enjoying chopping carrots and parsnips and turnips and sweet potatoes, you’re ready to write a blog post.
And you do.
Spicy Root Vegetable Chips
Adapted from So Good and Tasty
Note on the root vegetables: Any root vegetables will work here. I used sweet potato, parsnip, turnip and carrot.
The only difficult thing about this recipe, in my opinion, is the time it takes to chop up the vegetables, which, if you have a mandolin, becomes considerably simpler (although even as it is, there’s something soothing about chop, chop, chop). Love the spices here, reminiscent of Indian food and hot on the tongue and flavorful.
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted and ground
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground tumeric
1 pound root vegetables, washed and sliced no thicker than 1/8-inch
1/8 to 1/4 cup coconut oil or other high heat oil, just melted
Hefty dashes of sea salt
Create spice blend by mixing fennel, cumin, paprika, cayenne, coriander, crushed red pepper flakes, cloves and tumeric, and set this mixture aside.
Slice up the root vegetables into rounds, and place them in a bowl of ice water for 30 minutes to an hour. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.
Drain the vegetables of water and pat dry. Add enough oil to coat and toss thoroughly. Add spices and toss again. Add hefty dashes of salt.
Place the vegetables in a single layer on two rimmed baking sheets and roast for 15 to 30 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through and flipping the chips. They’re ready when they’ve crisped up, so keep your eye on them.
Honey-Kissed Root Vegetable Fries
Note on the root vegetables: Any root vegetables will work here; we often use just carrots. This time, I used sweet potato, parsnip, turnip and carrot.
Tim and I are testing a theory that any vegetable, roasted with coconut oil and salt and pepper, becomes a delicacy. These carrots are no exception—we especially like drizzling honey all over the top at the end, giving them just a kiss of extra sweetness.
1 pound root vegetables, washed and chopped into matchsticks
1/4 to 1/2 cup coconut oil or other high-heat oil
Hefty dashes of salt and pepper
A couple tablespoons of raw honey
Preheat oven to 475 degrees F and place vegetables on two rimmed baking sheets, spreading them out in one even layer. Top with oil and toss. Add hefty dashes of salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 45 minutes, depending on how done you want them (I like them crispy but not burnt). When the vegetables are *almost* the way you want them, pull out the sheets, add honey, toss, and stick back in the oven. Five minutes later, you’re set.