It was in this state I prepared to do battle with all the borderline-off veg lying in the fridge: not ideal for someone wanting nothing to do with sharp blades, hot pans, scalding stocks and lethal julienne bars on a mandoline. With the clarity of thought that only a specific mix of caffeine, painkillers, late nights and FunRadio can produce, it was a case of take the steeliest, most Japanesiest blade I could find and set about parsnips, butternuts and the odd shallot.
Without meaning to sound all Nigella, repetitive peeling and slicing to produce a delicious end product is a satisfying process in itself. Without really having a plan, I diced some parsnips on autopilot and dropped the lot into a tray moistened with about 1cm of light stock. Smashing some banana shallots with the flat of the blade and running it through them a couple of times made the roughest chop ever, but it was all for puree anyway. Unseasoned, the tray got some aluminium foil covering and was put into a low oven (probably around 140) for just under an hour. As the nutty-sweet smells of parsnip and slight acridity of hot uncooked shallot spread through the house downstairs, I began to feel slightly better. After the pastas, toast and sandwiches of the working week, this was a kitchen again.