Sweet Potato Fries

#39: Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.

One of my favorite Food Rules in Michael Pollan’s compilation.

A few years ago, we explored this rule with a pizza-making party and reported the details in Apples to Apples, Pizza to Pollan. Now, we are taking the rule to a new level:

Eat all the sweet potato fries you want as long as you grow the sweet potato yourself. 

The recipe is simple:

Harvest a few sweet potatoes.Wash them. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Slice and chop the potato into fairly equal fry-like pieces. Toss them in a bowl with the following mixture:

1/4 cup of olive oil + 1 tablespoon of sugar + 1 tablespoon of salt + 1 teaspoon of paprika (or chipotle powder or any spice you like)

Then lay them out on a baking sheet with some space in between piece to ensure they get crispy rather than soggy. Bake ’em for 15 minutes, flip ’em, and then bake ’em for another 15 and viola! Deliciousness.

The only question that remains is: How many sweet potato fries do you think could be made from the 12 inch, 7-pounder my parents just harvested?!

Quinoa and Wild Rice Salad with Goat Cheese

I’ve been thinking about and exploring alternatives to grains recently, generally used in gluten-free diets. Quinoa, known as “the gold of the Incas” and the “mother of all grains”,  is actually a seed. It is very easy to prepare and can be used in salads, as a side dish, and many other ways. Here is a wonderful salad that combines quinoa with wild rice. I’ve had trouble in the past using wild rice, and so now I have a rather large stash of it that I would like to start getting rid of. This recipe makes it easy, since the wild rice is a component part rather than the center of the dish.

Quinoa and Wild Rice Salad with Goat Cheese (adapted from About.com)

What You Need

  • 1 cup red quinoa
  • 1/2 cup wild rice
  • 1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 1/2 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
  • 2 scallions, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup dates, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup walnut oil (or olive oil)
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste

What You Do

  1. Bring quinoa to a boil with 2 cups of water. Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes until water is absorbed. The quinoa should be soft and fluffy and a little chewy.
  2. In a separate pot, bring wild rice to a boil with 2 cups of water. Simmer for 35-40 minutes until rice is soft but chewy. Drain any remaining water.
  3. When the quinoa and wild rice have cooled close to room temperature, mix together with the walnuts, dates, goat cheese and scallions.
  4. Whisk together the walnut oil, vinegar and salt. Drizzle over the salad and stir well.

The Secret Life of Peas

Check it out! The common pea is capable of processing, remembering and sharing information with its neighbors. Michael Marder, for the New York Times Opinionater, reports:

“…a team of scientists from the Blaustein Institute for Desert Research at Ben-Gurion University in Israel published the results of its peer-reviewed research, revealing that a pea plant subjected to drought conditions communicated its stress to other such plants, with which it shared its soil. In other words, through the roots, it relayed to its neighbors the biochemical message about the onset of drought, prompting them to react as though they, too, were in a similar predicament.”

Any scientists/geneticists out there know if these findings have anything to do with how or why Mendel was able to study and and demonstrate inheritance through peas? Were those peas co-evolving with us and telling each other that being relevant in modern scientific experiments would foster future generations of intelligent peas that could one day outsmart their human predators? Nah… probably not… but it certainly doesn’t surprise me that they grow and work together.
Read Marder’s full article “If Peas Can Talk, Should We Eat Them?” examining the ethics of eating such intelligent life forms here.