Roasted Spiced Sweet Potato Soup

Sometimes I forget how much I love sweet potatoes. But just look at them! Underneath the gnarly, arthritic looking skin is a vegetable of, uncommon sweetness. I can’t think of any other vegetable so pleasantly and naturally sugary. Parsnips and beets are tempting, but they both have an underlying earthy, dirty taste that screams ROOT vegetable.No, sweet potatoes are far superior. Just about any way you cook them, they reward you with their velvety, gentle flesh and an extraordinary color that exists outside of the Crayola box. I imagine being wrapped in a soft, sweet potato-colored cashmere blanket when I eat this soup.

Can you tell I’m looking forward to the chill of fall?

Roasted Spiced Sweet Potato Soup
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 red onion, chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon hot chili powder (or use mild if you don’t want the heat)
Salt and fresh cracked black pepper
5 cups chicken stock or water
Creme fraiche
Pumpkin seed oil
Minced chives

Heat your oven to 450 degrees. Toss the sweet potato on a large baking sheet or roasting pan with the onion, olive oil, spices, and salt and pepper to taste ( I use at least a teaspoon of kosher salt here ).

Roast about 15 minutes, until everything is softened and browned.

In a large saucepan, bring the broth or water to a simmer. Add the roasted potatoes and puree with an immersion blender or regular blender until velvety smooth. Taste for seasoning; you’ll probably need more salt.

Garnish with a spoonful of creme fraiche, a swirl of pumpkin seed oil, and some chives.

Copyright (c) 2006 FamilyStyle

Chocolate Chai Snickerdoodles

Spice is Nice

Today I needed to make a batch of these cookies, because I saw them in the recipe magazine my grocery store publishes with the disclaimer that their testing panel couldn’t stop eating them. That’s all I need to hear; plus the recipe is simple AND they boast the wonderful name “snickerdoodle”.

When I told my son what they were called as I held one out, he looked at me as if I’d just offered to give him an atomic wedgie. They’re actually a very old-fashioned type of cookie that expert Nancy Baggett describes in her comprehensive book, All American Cookie, as “remarkable” for their good keeping quality and especially their texture: crisp on the outside and more chewy toward the middle as you work your way in.

Aside from their plain-prettiness, I found them a little too sweet, I mean my teeth actually hurt when I ate a few. But don’t let that detail stop you from making these. I’m known for my sugar-sensitive pearlies!

Chocolate Chai Snickerdoodles
adapted from Dierberg’s Everybody Cook’s magazine

2 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon each: ground cinnamon, ginger and cardamom
1/2 teaspoon each: ground allspice and white pepper
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup softened unsalted butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Stir together the sugar with all the spices in a small bowl; remove 1/2 cup to a pie plate on the side for dredging the cookies. Add cocoa to small bowl with sugar/spice mixture and stir to blend.

Beat butter in an electric mixer bowl until fluffy. Add the spiced cocoa mixture and beat until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla, then add flour and baking powder at low speed until combined.

Form 1-tablespoonful sized balls. Roll them in the reserved sugar mixture and arrange 2 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees 12-15 minutes. Cool in the pan for a few minutes before transfering to a rack to cool.

Makes about 3 1/2 dozen.

Copyright (c) 2006 FamilyStyle

Mamalook!

No time to do the dishes

Every day, at least 459 times, I hear this demanding chant: Mamalook! No, sadly, it’s not some Inuit term of endearment, it’s one or both of the small fry requiring me to quit focusing my eyeballs at whatever task I’m attempting, and just LOOK LOOK at how amazing they are – Mama, Look, I just stepped in cat barf! Mama, Look, at the ladybug I just squished! Mama, Look, I can pick my nose with my tongue! And really, what mama isn’t both proud of and fascinated by all things her kids can do? Beginning from the moment they emerge, we catalog all the essential accomplishments a living being is capable of; the first poop, fart and gummed Cheerio are recorded ever so satisfyingly in our memory banks. As they grow and learn to wipe their own bottoms, they continue to require our constant attention, because they’ve learned so early on that they are the center of the universe. And so it continues, on into adolescence, young adulthood and beyond, stopping alarmingly and shockingly only if and when they become parents themselves.

But I’m wondering if a study can’t somehow be undertaken on the mama brain, to show how our synapses have become manic and frizzled from constant interruption, like Robin Williams on a bad hair day. It’s a genius kind of behavior modification when you think about it. Just imagine what the untrained mama would do if she inhabited the life of her children. She might wander off to her room to play by herself for a while, or spend some time in the bathroom examining a really deeply imbedded toe wart. Or maybe run outside joyfully, hair blowing behind her, screaming “Hey Kids! Look! I’m going out for a walk!”

Copyright (c) 2006 FamilyStyle