Thursday, October 16, 2014

Waffle Fries? Nah, I'm good.

I would much rather have real, made-by-me fries any day.

I'd been looking for a recipe for the butternut squash in my foyer for awhile now. I can't quite remember how long it's been chillin' there. Thanks to my daily email, I found something quite intriguing - butternut squash fries.

Who'd have thought? I mean, we all love our sweet potato fries. Why not cut a butternut squash in similar configurations and bake them like sweet potatoes? Of course, it works - perhaps even better than the original - and tastes ABSOLUTELY AMAZING.

Although waffle fries will be easily available when Chick-Fil-A opens next month, I won't be partaking. I will never step foot in that store, give them any of my money, or eat any of their food. So although it isn't a waffle fries (waffle fry?) recipe, I'm still glad I have it in my back pocket.

I really love for the comments that people can leave. So many times I have read through the comments and learned substitutions, tips, and shortcuts to make the recipe more versatile, less complicated, and quicker. In the comments for this recipe, someone said to peel the squash with a knife instead of a peeler. So I did that.

I cut the squash into two pieces: the bottom and the top tube. I cut a slice off the bottom and the top to make the pieces stand up (mostly) straight.

Then I used a big knife to slice down the sides, carefully removing strips and chunks of the peel.

Then I cut the pieces in half and scooped out the seeds.

Then I cut those pieces into wedges. Some of the wedges were thinner than others and some were shaped kind of weird, but those just crisped up during baking. They reminded me of those delectable little end-fries that you find at the bottom of the bag. (Bag fries. It's a thing.)

The recipe said to bake the fries for 20 minutes, but I baked mine for about 50: 10 minutes, then flip. 15 minutes, then flip again. Another 15, another flip. A final 10 minutes and they were done just as my mom walked in the door.

I plated them all on their own because I didn't know what else to make for dinner. We pigged out on them with Farmer Joe's Homestyle Ketchup. They were luscious and I was very sad when the plate was clean, though I let my mom have the last one because I love her.

Get outta here, waffle fries. You're way out of your league.

What other fall vegetables could you make fries out of? (Turnips? Beets?)

Happy munching!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

When Are These Going to - LID NOW, OH GEEZ

A perk of working at a farm stand is getting the inside track on a lot of things that we take for granted. One of those things is popcorn. It comes in bags from a grocery store; you put the bags in microwave ovens and in about three minutes you have a snack. It sounds pretty simple and awesome - but now we're starting to have a problem with bagged popcorn because its loaded with chemicals, grown from GMOs, and provides way more salt and fat than you ever need in a "snack." There is also some concern about eating too much microwaved food; those microwaves can affect what you're putting into your mouth, plus your body if you stand too close. So what's the solution? Make-it-yourself stove popcorn is making a comeback. 

Farmer Joe explained to a customer what he does to make the popping corn and it sounds pretty simple. If I had fields and fields of corn, I'd probably do it too. All you need to do is lay the corn cobs out flat, preferably in the sun, for a few days until they dry completely. Then you unwrap the dried leaves and remove the silk, Indian-burn the cob (anyone who went to elementary school knows what I'm talking about), and pop the kernels in an air popper or over the stove.

One corncob produced a little less than a half cup of kernels. 

I adapted Alton Brown's recipe for stove top popcorn because I had peanut oil in the pantry. I used a medium-sized pot and about three tablespoons of oil. Look at how pretty the kernels are!

Stove-top popcorn is an exercise in patience. Once you turn the heat on, you have to slide the pot back and forth over the burner constantly. As you're standing there, you start to inspect each kernel and ask, "Will it be you? Will you pop first? Or that one...?" The other recipe I used as a guide warned to have the lid ready because once the first kernel pops, all of its friends will quickly follow. (Hence the title.) 

I was more than a little anxious during this process. 

Once that first kernel popped, the rest started jumping out of the pot so I slammed on the lid. After a few minutes the popping subsided and I took the pot off the burner. A few stray pops made me jump. When I opened the lid, I saw

Woohoo! A full pot of luscious, fresh, no chemicals added popcorn (except for what's in the peanut oil, of course). I tossed the popcorn in Molly McButter and chowed down.

Although the process takes considerably more effort than microwavable popcorn, the added fun element makes it worth it. Nothing like a little increase in blood pressure to spice up your afternoon!

There are many, many ways to jazz up this popcorn. How do you like to eat popcorn? Sweet? Salty? Savory?