Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Eyes Saw Red When My Life Turned Blue

Sometimes in my office conversations go horribly wrong.

Terry: I knew you would have something to say about this.
Tata: Nope.
Terry: It's a tennis ball and a dog toy.
Tata: I see that, yes. Nope.
Terry: It says "Tough Ballz."
Tata: I see that, yes. Nope, still nothing to say.
Terry: It's one ball, really. For ninety-nine cents, it was well worth it.
Tata: Do you have a dog?
Terry: No. Yes. Maybe.
Tata: Few things on earth could entice me to discuss this object in my place of employment.
Terry: "Tough Ballz."
Tata: Not those neither.

Sometimes they go right. Lupe's children fuss about eating vegetables. I offered her a really cheap, simple recipe taught to me by an ex-boyfriend who should boil. Slowly. But the recipe is good.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Acme had a sale on root vegetables. These sweet potatoes were 10 lbs. for $10, so four tubers came to about $2.38, if I remember correctly. Stop laughing! Now I am about to say something with which people will take issue: candied yams are yecchy and sweet potato casseroles with marshmallows are a shitty waste of good food. Those are technical terms, so tag me in comments if you are confused by complex professional jargon.

Cut off the ends. You're not going to eat the fibrous ends and though you should floss, I recommend you do that with waxed string from free-range floss farms. I peel the sweet potatoes because Pete is delicate and hates to think of the poor little vegetables and their furry little faces. Your sensibilities may vary. The peels are actually good for us but they do change the flavor of our dessert topping or floor wax. It's up to you.

Slice them at least an inch thick and as evenly as you can. Perfection is not aesthetic: your concern is cooking time. I like to cut them into healthy slices that remind me of filet mignons, though for the life of me, I cannot remember the last time I ate one of those. Forging ahead, then: you can slice them thinly if you like but the outcome will not be the same. Thick slices, my darlings! You will not regret it, or maybe you will, but if you do, please seek professional help.

Drop your sliced sweet potatoes into a big honking bowl. Here's the fun part: have a look at your spice rack or cabinet. Chances are really, really good that your spices and herbs are aging gracefully. You probably like the spices you've got, so get 'em out and sprinkle them generously onto your potatoes. Add some salt and pepper. Drizzle olive oil over your potatoes and toss them. That mess smells good, doesn't it?

Lay the potatoes out on a cookie sheet. They're going to stick, so line it with foil. These are sitting on a Silpat, which I inherited from Dad's kitchen and love with my whole black heart, but they are expensive. Bake for an hour or so. After a fork inserts gently and easily into the largest slice, remove from the oven. Let the sweet potato slices cool a little or you risk a trip to the hospital. The outsides of each slice will be crisp. The insides will be naturally sweet and custardy. You should figure one sweet potato per ravenous adult, and that will seem like a lot of food right up to the moment you don't put any away for later.

In other news: the farmers market by Siobhan's house evidently sells red batatas, which form the basis of my Rwandan co-worker's cooking. I can't wait to try them.



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