turnip and cutting board

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.

spices for root vegetable chips

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.

root vegetables and cutting board

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.

root vegetable rounds

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.

matchstick root vegetables

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.

IMG_3265

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.

IMG_3278

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.

Ingredients:
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

Directions:
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.

Ingredients:
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

Directions:
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.

Cooksnaps
Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 28 Comments

  1. Lan

    Oh, how I hope & pray you continue on your path towards mending. Take good care sweet girl, & if you’re able to reschedule your trip to Baltimore pls let me know, I would love to treat you & Tim to some tea.

    1. Shannalee

      We definitely will let you know, Lan. Thank you so much for your (awesome!) Baltimore suggestions, which we had all listed out and ready to use, and thanks for your encouragement here. This is the second time we’ve almost met! Glad to have you and your long-time blog friendship.

  2. Alisha

    My dear friend…thanks for your transparency with this post! It reminded me of an old hymn that has the line “…sometimes the light surprises the Christian while he sings….” It is easy to “sing” – to rejoice in our Lord and in so many of the joys of life when life goes along OUR way, but the truest test is in CONTINUING to sing…while still in the dark. Hang in there, girl.
    I still remember the times you shared your heart in society chapel – what a personal encouragement to me you were then, and I see you have continued to let the Lord use you for His glory – even in the not fun times. Hope you are feeling better!! Love you.

    1. Shannalee

      Alisha! What a surprise to hear from you here! I can tell from your comment that you are the same sweetness and kind heart that you were in college, and you know what’s funny is that I remember YOUR sharing your heart in society chapel and still think about a D Martyn-Lloyd Jones quote you shared. It was something about how, for every look we take at ourselves, we should take ten looks at the Word. Do you remember that? Love you, too, friend. Thanks for your encouragement.

  3. Celeste A.

    Ahh, Shannalee,
    I am so sorry to hear that you have struggled with your health and in the early days of being newly married. Congratulations by the way since it has been sometime since writing to you.
    I am always amazed by how connected our physical body is to our spiritual side and vice versa. I love Spurgeon’s writing by the way, as well as Mr. Piper’s.
    I am so glad that you found the strength to write and share your recipe. I have noticed how you have been making changes to your diet. You have such discipline.
    I will be praying for your continued recovery.

  4. Jacqui

    I’m glad you’re back in the kitchen, friend, and I hope you’re feeling better. Ups and downs, ups and downs. I’m constantly learning about these, in marriage and in life, every single day. Thank goodness for the chop chop chop of root vegetables, and for loving husbands, and for spaces like these. xo

    1. Shannalee

      You know, Jacqui, every time you leave a comment here or I read a new post at your blog or you post a new film photo, I have this tinge of sadness that we’re no longer the kind of friends who can meet at Honey for Saturday lunch. I’m glad for our blog connection, I really am, but I just thought I’d tell you I miss you.

  5. Ashley

    That sounds horrible. I’m so sorry you had to deal with such pain. Your words are beautiful and the source in which you found your strength is inspiring. So glad you are feeling better.

    1. Shannalee

      Worse and better, worse and better, all along those 10 days. That morning before we met you was one of the worst points, but when we walked around in the sunshine, I only had dull kidney pain. : ( Thanks for your kind words and thanks for putting up with my boring self last weekend! I was so out of it!

  6. Jacqui

    I can’t even imagine the pain you’ve described. I’m happy to know that it sounds like you’ve made it through the worst of it and are back to recovery. I hope you get back to 100% very soon. Love all the roots you choose for this post, and I absolutely can’t get enough of your beautiful wood table : )

    1. Shannalee

      Thank you so much, Jacqui, and thank you for the great chip recipe! Love using all those fun spices. : ) And our table—Tim BUILT it with a friend of ours! I can’t get enough of it, either.

  7. MaryAnn

    Bless your sweet heart! It sounds like you had a terrible time…I pray that it goes away and NEVER comes back!
    I know just what you mean about how chopping & prepping can be soothing. I had a cluster of migraine headaches (10 in 29 days) this past summer & I made lots of applesauce. The peeling, coring, chopping, simmering & stirring was so soothing to my weary self. And I understand the connection you mentioned about physical pain & spiritual discouragment. I often pray that the Lord would help me set my mind on things above so that this silly body of mine does not distract me from the eternal, worthwhile things.
    I agree – any veggie roasted becomes such a wonderful treat!

  8. Shannalee

    Thank you for your kind words, MaryAnn, and I’m so sorry you experienced such a cluster of migraines! That must have been horrible. You are right to focus on what’s eternal; I am praying to do the same, and not just when I feel pain.

  9. Vicki

    If it makes you feel better, I have known many people who have cashed in on the “in sickness and in health part” of their wedding vows within the first year of marriage. We don’t always appreciate how good we have things when we start looking at other people’s lives. We spend time worrying about finding “The One” or becoming parents or owning our own homes or being at a certain point in our careers. Yet someone who has say the fabulous career you wish you had might wish she had something you do, even something simple like a washer and dryer in her home. I’m glad to hear you are feeling better and look forward to more blog posts.

  10. bea

    Shanalee,

    So sorry to hear about this horrible infection. I hope you are on the mend. And that those two recipes help you to regain your energy. I know too well how difficult long-term pain can make someone feel. Last year, I was sick for 10 days straight in bed with high fever and excruciating pain–it turned out that I had a rare case of subacute thyroiditis that is caused by an infection/virus and is really painful. Giving birth to Lulu seemed easy in comparison. The good news is that thankfully, it will go away and you will be better.

    Take great care.

    1. Shannalee

      Sweet Bea, I had no idea you went through something like that—I am so sorry! But you are right that there is great comfort in knowing pain eventually ends (!!!!) even when, at times, it feels like it won’t, and I am so glad to see that again now. Thanks for your kind words and empathy. I really appreciate it.

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