Monday, October 16, 2006

And Then There's Yummy Autumn Food

In addition to making me want to drink warm tea, autumn brings out my cooking and baking impulses more than almost any other season. And certain foods always beckon this time of year. Two favorites (and just the right color to celebrate fall!) are pumpkin and sweet potatoes.

There's something about squashes and root vegetables, especially when they're orange or orangey-brown, that just make me feel connected to the earth. These are good, filling foods. They seem to soak up spices. They clamor for spices, for butter, for crust.

On Saturday evening I decided I would make sweeet potato "fries." Couldn't be hard, I thought, and nope, it wasn't. I remember going through a phase a year or two ago when we would buy these fancy frozen sweet potato "french fries" in packages at the grocery store. No longer! They taste better when made from scratch, it's cheaper, and there's something really satisfying about making your own.

Here's how I did them: take one big sweet potato (which was plenty for our little family of three for one meal, though of course you can do more as needed), wash, scrub and peel. I think peeling helps to get rid of any of those "woody places" that sweet potatoes are prone to. I wasn't particularly fastidious about peeling, however, choosing to leave on a bit of peel here and there since I knew it would be nutritious.

Cut the potato into thin sticks. I halved it, then cut lengthwise down the half, then did it again a few times. With the smaller chunks that didn't seem to want to be cut that thinly, I did slices, more like chips.

Put the pieces in a bowl and toss with olive oil till they're well coated. Sprinkle on a bit of salt and pepper and toss again. Then put on a big baking sheet coated lightly with veggie oil spray. If they seem a bit too oily (mine did) then pat with a clean paper towel to take up any excess oil.

Bake at 400 degrees for about twenty minutes (though keep a watch toward the end so they don't burn) turning at least twice.

Enjoy them warm from the oven! Yummy!

I was amazed by how good these were. On Sunday we went to nearby Ohio for a fall festival we've gone to just about every year since the year before Sweet Girl was born. It's called "Christmas in the Woods" and is one of the Shaker Festivals. Craft booths, wonderful bluegrass music, clog-dancing, good food -- all in a beautiful autumnal woods. Doesn't get much nicer than that. When it came time for lunch, I suddenly realized that one reason I'd probably been craving sweet potato fries the night before was that I usually eat some from one of the booths there. So I got some more. Were they good? Yep. But not as good as the one's I'd made for supper!

Pumpkin-butterscotch cookie recipe coming soon...I think they've become our family's new favorite cookie.


Erin said...

Mmm, those fries sound good! I'm a huge sweet potato fan, but I don't think we've ever made those. Definitely something to try out! :D

Beth said...

Oh they're yummy! I'm in such a "food mood" lately -- I think I must be part bear (if I could get away with eating a lot in autumn and then sleeping all winter, I think I would!)