Sunday, December 19, 2010

Spicy sweet potatoes

spicy sweet potatoes with avocado
I have a new favorite staple, and it's so simple. This is a busy time of year and frankly, when I'm cooking I want to stretch it. I've found spicy roasted sweet potatoes fit the bill perfectly: their versatility to be the perfect side dish, or base of a meal is so welcome in a busy life.

In many ways, they're much like roasted butternut squash, and I often use the two interchangeably. I roast a big pan of them up, have them as a base of a meal that night, then use them to build lunches and dinners for the coming day or two. Think of.....cheese ravioli topped with roasted sweet potatoes, sweet potato quesadillas, tossed with spinach salad and toasted walnuts, added to an omelet....they are an easy, flavorful base.

Spicy roasted sweet potatoes
Staring at the sweet potatoes? Here's a hint: go for the orange ones. You get some vitamin/mineral added bonus there.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Peel several sweet potatoes: go with however many will end up fitting on your roasting pans. I do 3-4. Cut in half, then quarters, then cube into bite-size pieces, about 2-inch squares or so. Drizzle 1-2 tablespoons olive oil on your roasting pan (I use lipped cookie baking sheets for this). Toss your sweet potato cubes with your fingers right on the roasting pan, and move that olive oil around. Generously pepper and salt-this is a great place to use good salt, like sel gris with herbs or smoked sea salt (thanks to the great folks at Zupans who shared their gourmet salts with me this year!). The simplicity of flavors here is where good salt like this can really shine.

Last thing to do? Chop up 1-2 tablespoons (depending on how much heat you like) of canned adobo chiles. I grab a few from my freezer, because when I open a can, I only use a little. (The remaining from the can I drop onto a small tray lined with wax or parchment paper, in rounded tablespoons, freeze over night, then the next day, remove and bag these pre-measured chiles for use in future recipes. This one is a perfect example of how easy they are to use this way.) Again using my hands, just toss the sweet potatoes around with the chiles and flavoring.

Roast in the oven for 20 minutes. Use a spatula to toss them around a bit making sure they're not sticking to the pan, and continue roasting for another 10-15 minutes. Done. Now use with wild abandon over the coming days as a spicy, filling and tasty base for meals....even in simplicity as shown in the photo, tossed with a little fresh cilantro and avocado? Perfect lunch.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The holidays don't just bring out the crafters gone wild...

...there's also the kitchen madness. Take for example, the nativity made from meat:
Into the oven

Nothing says Merry Christmas like Baby Jesus wrapped up like a Pig in a Blanket. I think my favorite is the meat camel though. Why go gingerbread when you can go meat?

Photo courtesy of Greg Chow.

Bonus: Meat Scarf. Crafters + Meat = WIN

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Crafters Gone Wild

It's no secret, I'm a fan of regretsy. Last week they announced the big etsy product for 2011, and it's Glingers. Gloveless fingers. Oh so good.

But I'm sure one woman's crap is another woman's gold, so live and let live. But I may still take photos of the products of Crafters Gone Wild, and imagine the back stories in my mind....take this for example.
Quilters Gone Wild
How could I not take a photo of the product from Quilters Off the Hook? I've been imagining someone dealing with some serious SADs who instead of knitting OFF THE HOOK takes quilting to extreme measures and quilt covers her car. I love this story so much. JUST KEEP QUILTING, SPRING WILL COME! would be their mantra, as they stitched and cut and stitched some more. The rain pours down horizontally, the mud builds up in the garden, outside it's a gray wet mess but inside? That god damn volkswagen isn't going to quilt itself.

Good times, good times. Are you crafting this holiday season? But more importantly, are you a crafter gone wild?

Bonus: If you're a fan of Amy Sedaris and her new book, I have two words for you: Gingham Bottoms.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tis the Season of Crap

Macrame gone wild: just say no
Holiday horrors, and yes I saw this piece in real life. Haven't we all seen things like this?

I'm grateful I haven't seen this in real life.

But I did see an entire deflated, blown over scene the other day. A windstorm swept through Portland, knocking over all of the plastic nativities, snowmen and reindeer. It was a sad day indeed.

Just say no, people. Just say no.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Cultivating warmth in the garden

cultivating warmth in the garden
That's a misleading headline and not what this post is really about. It's cold in the garden right now, and there's nothing I can do to cultivate warmth in it. Oh, I had grand plans for a little color in the garden this winter. Something to break up the grey, brown quiet of winter in my mainly perennial Portland garden. And this was it, as shown above. A hardy cyclamen in bright red, mulched with red glass, potted up and placed in my wire dress form sculpture. Situated just in view of a primary window, I'd be able to glance outside and my eye would catch on this, and I'd be filled with hope for the coming of Spring. Content, with this wee bit of color.

This is where we hear the ripping of the needle across the record.

My grand idea fell over in a windstorm a few weeks back. When I finally ventured into the garden to right it back up, it was apparent my red glass mulch was tossed every which way among the rotting leaves, and the hardy cyclamen was nowhere to be found. At least the form is standing back up, but there's no winter warmth sparkling inside its fallopian tubes. That's what I came to think of this piece once I had originally set it up. I don't think I'll use red as a color of blooms for it in the future.

There is hope, however. Yesterday I saw a whole troop of tiny bushtits fly across the way into our garden, flitting and fleeting among the branches of trees. Pride and/or Joy, our resident blue jays, are sticking around and we're happy to feed them through the winter. I've become quite fond of them. And speaking of fond, I watched as a chubby squirrel rambled along the twigs yesterday, and jumped back as he landed right on our window screen and ledge. Brave or stupid? Your pick.

Now where's my slippers?