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July 16, 2006

Adventures in cooking

Filed under: Personal stuff — Camassia @ 8:57 am

OK, I haven’t exactly been good about getting back in blogging mode since I got back from vacation. I’ve actually had a few ideas for posts, but they don’t feel ready to take out of the oven yet, so to speak. But (speaking of ovens) I thought Eve might be interested to know that I was actually inspired to try her French fry recipe.

Now, I am un-American enough that I’m actually bored by French fries, and by potatoes in general. But I thought the garlic and parsley might jazz it up, and I figured that if I could discover how to make good fries, John will be my permanent love slave. So yesterday seemed like a good time to have him over and try it out on him — especially since it was 100 degrees in Pasadena and a mere 83 out here by the beach.

I was a little concerned about the smoke-alarm part of Eve’s story, so I consulted the Joy of Cooking’s oven-fries recipe and followed its advice to set the oven at 450 rather than 475. Another modification I made based on the Joy was that instead of tossing the fries in oil and then putting them on a nonstick pan, I put the fries in an oven-proof dish (a lasagna pan, in this case), poured the oil over them and stirred them in situ. This had the advantage not only of providing one less dish to clean, but also oiled the pan, so I didn’t have to worry about the nonstick part. I also left the skin on, since potatoes are even more boring without the skin. (Fortunately, John agrees with me about that one.)
As it turned out, I had the opposite problem from Eve: they took forever to cook. However, I did have a first course available, since a meal of unvarying starch didn’t seem like a good idea. I had some fresh spearmint around that needed to be gotten through before it wilted, so I made a sauce for green beans from a recipe that my mother found somewhere. It’s really good, and very simple. It goes like this:

1 pound green beans, boiled

1/4 cup olive oil

2 sprigs fresh mint, finely chopped

pinch of crushed garlic

1 tbsp wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

I didn’t know what wine one should serve with a meal of French fries and green beans, so in honor of the heat wave I made a pitcher of sangria. So, we were tucking away beans and sangria when the fries were finally done.

The garlic and parsley actually didn’t alter them a lot, since there was such a small amount compared to the volume of potatoes. The first batch (only about 2/3 of the potatoes fit in the lasagna pan) came out pretty good, though unevenly done. This was probably partly due to the oven, which is older than I am, but more due to the fact that potatoes are not, in fact, rectangular, so I had a hard time making the fries a uniform size. For the second batch I turned the heat up to 475 and split some of the larger pieces before baking. That batch came out much better, but at this point I was starting to feel very full. In fact, at 8:50 the next morning I am still feeling very full, and if someone waved a French fry at me I think I’d faint. It’s amazing what a meal you can make from what are considered side dishes.

After the meal we took the bus to the beach, since we figured parking would be impossible. There are, in reality, only about ten days a year when the beach is as pleasant as it looks on Baywatch, and on those days pretty much the whole metro area turns out to enjoy it. We arrived just after sunset, and the place was still fairly well populated. Nonetheless, we found a nice spot to sit and watch the orange glow on the horizon fade into darkness, and the lights around the edge of the bay twinkle on. Eventually it started to get chilly, so we went back and John returned to his (hopefully cooler) house.

I don’t know if I made him my permanent love slave, but it was a good evening anyway.

2 Comments

  1. Sounds delicious. I would suggest, however, more garlic. It might also be a bonding moment with your sweetie when you realize you both reek to high heaven.

    Comment by Hugo — July 17, 2006 @ 7:52 am

  2. This reminds me of the Doonesbury comic from the ’70s where Joanie’s ex-husband Clint calls her and tells her to come back home, saying, “I miss your great french fries!”

    Comment by Chip Frontz — July 17, 2006 @ 10:24 pm

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