Foodie Tuesday on a Wednesday: Spinning Time, Spanning Seasons

Here in north Texas, the seasons are not so much defined as a slow mosey between the traditional two months of cool (also referred to locally as Winter) and the various pretend-seasons of Really Warm, Hot, and Hotter’n a Pistol. So it helps a transplanted northerner like me to occasionally do stuff that makes me feel a little more like there’s a change in the day, if not in the air. It matters less whether I do things that welcome the incoming time of year or ones that celebrate the last-hurrahs of the ending one, or, as often as not, things that bridge the gap in that same sidelong saunter as the so-called changes occur.

Since I do love autumn as much as any season, and it’s perhaps one of the less visible ones hereabouts, it’s fun to pull out recipes and treats that speak to me of the setting of summer’s sun and the rising of a harvest moon. I’m not a pumpkin fanatic like so many seem to be, and they, along with other squashes and root vegetables, are available pretty much all year long, but there is admittedly something compellingly autumnal in the scent and taste of these, roasted and seasoned just so. Anything that reinforces my sense of time, particularly when things get busy as they have been lately and I forget entirely what day it is, let alone what season. So here I am once again posting my Tuesday post on a Wednesday. I may be becoming more predictable than the seasons!

For a very easy to make little sweet that can pass for either a side dish or dessert, as need be, sweet potatoes or yams are a nice leaning-into-autumn treat that have more fiber and nutrients than the usual fluff, and are still both sweet and mild so they can be blended with quite a range of tastes successfully. In this case, I mean both our tastes and the number of flavors that meld well with sweet potatoes. As the end of summer is not yet fully fled, I can still find some juicy, ripe peaches, too, that magnificent fruit pregnant with late-season sun. Coincidentally, they share a warm, rich color palette with sweet potatoes, so they can be a lovely stealth ingredient in this dish, waiting to surprise tastebuds with their delectable and desirable intensity.

Sweet Potato-Peach Fluff

Baked or roasted sweet potato, peeled and pureed thoroughly. Equal amount of ripe peach flesh, uncooked, peeled, and also pureed. Blend them together thoroughly, adding (to your taste) browned butter, lime juice, salt, ground cardamom, and cinnamon. Serve warm, room temperature, or cold. A nice chilled glass of hard cider or freshly crushed non-alcoholic cider would not be amiss to wash this down, and it would go wonderfully with anything from a cheesy mushroom gratin to roasted duck breast, pit smoked ham to grilled cruciferous vegetables with walnuts. Or a big scoop of dulce de leche ice cream!

Yeah, it’s always good to remember that too much of a good thing is a great thing.Photo: Sweet Potato Peach Fluff

Foodie Tuesday: Rinse and Repeat

You all know what a fan I am of leftovers and ‘repurposed’ ingredients. Most of the foods I’ve been fixing lately have been a continuation of that tradition of mine, especially because it’s been a particularly busy time around our place. We’ve had the usual spate of spring concerts and recitals, more than the usual number of social and business-social events at home and other places, and planning and preparation for a large quantity of upcoming happenings. The garden’s been coming in at top speed. I’ve been trying to clean house more seriously than I had in a long time, because it’s really overdue and I’d love to sell off and give away a lot of underutilized Things. Oh, and I’m trying hard, really I am, not to fall behind with my writing and artwork.

That latter means, naturally, keeping my blogging current, but in addition it means working on two art commissions—one a super-fast turnaround project I just got a few days ago. It also includes attempting to continue with the development of several books to follow up on the one I published in January.

I’m neither complaining nor bragging, just stating a truth that is pretty much like the daily one facing the majority of people I know, each with his or her variations on the details. And it reinforces my attachment to quick, simple, reusable and flexible ingredients and dishes more than ever. Today, for example, I made and froze what will (I’m certain) be a delicious potato side dish for later this week, when friends are coming over for a casual dinner visit. I used a combination of a smashed microwave ‘baked’ potato, a handful of chopped and mashed leftover french fries—good hand cut ones from our favorite old school steakhouse—a handful of crushed leftover potato chips, and enough leftover pimiento cheese from the batch I made for our party the other night to make it all into a cheesy potato casserole. I had some crisped bacon in the fridge, so the casserole is topped with that for the finish. It doesn’t look like so much yet, being in the freezer and all, but I’m expecting to enjoy it quite a bit, along with whatever else I manage to put together for the occasion.photo

Confession: I got an itch to do something trendy, despite being so rarely trendy myself, and I made a lattice out of the bacon. Silly, but kind of fun. And if one is going to wrestle with trying to cook a little in the midst of lots of real life busyness, shouldn’t there be a little bit of silly fun involved? No, wait: a lot?