My mother did not want me to come to the US. The year was 2002. I had recently graduated from college and returned home for a visit. I was at an age where we understood each other more than ever. I was her only child and we were each other’s best friend. Coming to the US was the hardest decision I ever made in my life.
On one hand, I was excited about my journey to America and what the future had in store, yet I felt guilty leaving her behind. The day before I left, we had a long conversation and she told me that if I ever felt I was not wanted or unhappy, I should immediately come home.
The journey from Istanbul was long, but the moment I set foot in New York City, I knew my life had changed forever. I was mesmerized with almost everything; tall buildings, crowded streets, beautiful stores, and all kinds of food and people. It was a whole new world that I had only seen in movies. Years went by feeling this way. I never got tired of what this country had to offer me and its people. It would be a lie if I told you that I didn’t have tough times. Believe me, I had my share of visa issues. However, I never felt I was not wanted or out of place. To me, the beauty of America was that life was hard for everyone, but we were all in this together. I always found someone to offer me a helping hand when needed. In the last 15 years, I made some of the best friendships of my life in this country. More importantly, I met the love of my life and married him here.
So I think you can understand why I am so baffled with everything that has happened in the last few weeks. I do not want this blog to be a place where I talk about my political views because I understand that we may have a difference of opinion and I am not here to expose you to my views. However, as an immigrant who has always felt welcomed, it saddens me to see a group of people banned entrance into the country because of their beliefs, especially after everything they had been through. I know America is better than this.
With the hopes of lightening the mood, today I am sharing my mother’s one-pot winter root vegetable dish. If you have been following me for a while, you know I believe in the healing power of food. I also believe that food makes us all come together, set aside our differences, and enjoy each other’s tastes and company.
About this One-Pot Citrusy Winter Root Vegetables Recipe:
If I were to translate the name of this dish from Turkish to English, it would be something like celery root cooked in olive oil. Growing up, it was a wintertime staple in our house. As the name suggests, winter’s popular root vegetables; celery root, potatoes, and carrots, are placed in a large pot, drizzled with olive oil and freshly squeezed orange juice and cooked until the vegetables are tender. Some people use lemon juice instead of orange juice, but I personally prefer orange juice because it is sweeter and I think it pairs beautifully with celery root. Plus, as you can see in the photos, I was able to get my hands on the sweetest pink Cara Cara oranges, which are my absolute favorite fruit ever.
During my childhood, my mother would make this on a Sunday and we’d eat it cold as a salad or a side dish throughout the week. After I married my American husband and served him this dish as my mother did, I learned that eating cold root vegetables even as a side dish could be a foreign concept for some people. If you feel the same way, feel free to warm it up in the microwave for a few minutes before serving.
I wrote this blog post as a part of a bloggers initiative, where we all shared our own #immigrantfoodstories. Below you will find a few of my favorite bloggers’ posts on the subject:
Honestly Yum: Lu Dan (Soy Eggs)
The Year In Food: Winter Squash Fritters
Eat This Poem: Immigrant Picnic
Floating Kitchen: Armenian Bulgur Parsley and Tomato Salad
Brooklyn Supper: Spelt Crust Apple Pandowdy
Kale & Caramel: Fatteh with Cumin Chickpeas & Tahini Yogurt
Fix Feast Flair: Beef Teriyaki
The Crepes of Wrath: Polish Apple Pie
One-Pot Citrusy Winter Root Vegetables
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic peeled
- 2 medium-sized celery root also called celeriac, (1 ½- 2 pounds in total) – peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 medium-sized potato peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 carrots peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
- ½ cup orange juice freshly squeezed
- 3 tablespoons good olive oil
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
- ¼ cup fresh dill rinsed and coarsely chopped
- Place the onion, garlic, celery root, potato, and carrot in a large pan with a lid.
- Drizzle it with the orange juice and olive oil. Stir in the sugar, salt, and pepper. Give it a large stir.
- Cover and cook over medium heat for 20-25 minutes or until the celeriac and potatoes are cooked through.
- Stir in the peas and cook for another 5-6 minutes.
- Taste for seasoning and add in if necessary.
- Garnish it with fresh dill.
- You can serve this dish immediately or let it come to room temperature and store in an airtight container in the fridge and serve cold as a side dish for the next 2-3 days.