Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sweet Potato Galette

Mom asked me to make either a sweet potato or squash side dish for Thanksgiving dinner. For the past several years, I've made butternut squash with baby spinach, but now spinach and cranberries have been added to the ever-rowing lists of foods that someone in the family can't eat. We also try to avoid dairy (two severe allergies plus sporadic lactose intolerance) and gluten (one severe allergy).  And the thought of marshmallows on sweet potatoes makes my teeth ache.

Luckily, I like to cook. I like to look at recipes. I decided to make a sweet potato galette. I made a galette once in the past, and I remember it as labor intensive. I surfed the web looking for recipes, but most sweet potato versions included cheese or sweet stuff. Time to just make it up as I go, using online guidelines for the process, but not the ingredients.

Step 1 - Mend my apron.

I love my apron. The pocket came unstitched in one corner. Yes, I mended it with purple thread because X-Chromo used up my black thread. Yesterday.

Step 2 - Scrub and peel sweet potatoes.

Please note that I bought long skinny sweet potatoes to make the slicing process easier.

Step 3 - Slice the sweet potatoes into 1/8" thick rounds with a mandoline.

Step 4 - Mutilate an onion.

The only time I miss wearing contact lenses when I'm chopping onions.

Step 5 - pour Wegmans Basting Oil into a large cast iron skillet.

If you don't have a Wegmans near you, perhaps your supermarket sells seasoned oils. If not, you should move some place where there is a Wegmans. Just not near me, because there are already too many people at my Wegmans. The parking lot is a nightmare.

Step 6 - layer the rounds of sweet potatoes, slightly over lapping, into the skillet. Top with some onion, drizzle with some basting oil.

Step 7 - Repeat step 6 until all sweet potatoes & onions are used.

Step 8 - Cover the sweet potato mixture with a round of aluminum foil. Non Stick. And make sure the non-stick side is down. Trust me.

Step 9 - Weight the foil with another cast iron skillet (slightly smaller than the first skillet)

Step 10 - Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Then put into a pre-heated 425 degree oven for 25 minutes.

Ignore my dirty oven. I do.

Step 11 - Remove top skillet and foil. Bake for another 25 minutes.

Step 12 - Remove from oven. Let sit for 5 minutes. Loosen edges with spatula. Flip onto a platter.

It's supposed to look like a large pancake, but with texture.  

Nope. But it tastes good. I put it in a shallow baking dish with a cover and will transport to Mom & Dad's, reheat in the microwave. I just wanted it to look pretty, you know?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Home-From-College Comfort Foods

X-Chromo is home from college for a little over a week. I went grocery shopping the other night, and stocked up on foods for meals we could eat as a family. When the children were young, we ate a lot of pasta. Once they went off to college, TV Stevie and I started eating a little healthier -- dinner salads, more beans, grains and vegetables, homemade soups, etc. Pasta isn't on our radar much anymore.

X made a snide comment on FaceBook the other night about 2 boxes of Rice Krispies and a gallon of milk not tough to buy. Well, there was a lot more in my cart for her than cereal (although I did forget her Nilla Wafers). And I had to make sure the basics were in house -- bread in the freezer, peanut butter in the pantry, boxes of mac-and-cheese in the cupboard, margarine for her mac-and-cheese in the fridge. Oh, and let's not forget the ingredients for baking molasses cookies. She is a molasses-cookie-baking fool. In a good way, of course.

But mostly I concentrated on meals, not what she eats between meals. Tried to remember her favorites. Tortellini soup. Broccoli stuffed chicken with rice. Tacos. Maybe we'll do Chinese take-out one night. When she's home on mid-winter break, I plan to make a chicken thigh-sweet potato-savoy cabbage stew that she adores. The thighs are already in the freezer.

I'm glad she's home, and my mommy-genes want to nurture her.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Myth Busting: Another Crackpot Theory?

Several years ago, I started examining the obits in the local newspaper, particularly those of women. I wanted to see if the "fact" that most women in the mid-twentieth century were, in fact, stay-at-home mothers.

My mom was (fifties & sixties) as were most of my aunts. My grandmothers were not. The mothers of most of my friends were not. Checking the obits gave me a broader base from which to draw my (very unscientific) conclusions.

Here's what I found (in my neck of the woods):

The Stay-At Home Mothers was a myth born in the post WWII and specifically post-Korean Conflict politicians, sometimes known as the Eisenhower Era.

Of every ten women listed in the obits, an average of two were stay-home mothers (professional housewives). Everyone else either worked outside the home (sales ladies at the department stores, teachers, nurses, secretaries, or factory workers) or were professional "volunteers".

Professional "volunteers" were the women who handled charity fund-raisers etc., doing most of the work for the organizations -- without pay. I once heard a male head of a not-for-profit proclaim -- in the early 1990's -- that women in the workforce has hurt charities because there was no one left to volunteer.

Yes. I really heard him say that.