Saturday, October 9, 2010

This Way to Fall; or, Let's Make Use of the Oven.

It must be said that fall is beautiful in this part of the country. After a few cooler days, the temperature in Stillwater, OK, is back in the 85F range and the sun is shining out of a clear blue sky. Our postdoctorally employed blogger experienced a moment of pure contentment and happiness today as he was biking back from the grocery store. His backpack was full of goodies soon to be part of this blog entry, he was full of Pumpkin Spice Latte purchased at the in-store Starbucks, and the sun shone in his face as he made his way up McElroy Road. Perfection!

As the attentive reader will have noticed, our Swedish blogger continues to ride his bike to Food Pyramid.  Indeed, he rides it most everywhere, and no, he still does not own a car. As a matter of fact, he came close to buy one at the beginning of this week, but the fact that the vehicle in question seemed to have received a little "plastic surgery" following what must have been an accident made our automobileophobic blogger reconsider the purchase, especially in view reliability concerns voiced by a reliable mechanic.

His failure to acquire a car does have the positive side effect of leaving funds available for travel. (And the exercise he gets from biking also seems to be inhibiting the weight gain commonly associated with turning 30.) The coming two months will be a migratory period of sorts for our blogger. He will be visiting New York, Chicago, Ann Arbor, and San Francisco, in that order. To some of these cities he has been invited, to others, he has invited himself; some of the trips are work-related, some are mainly social calls.

Anyone who has followed our Polish-Swedish mathematicians past travels closely (eh, hello, mom and dad) will note that he he has been to all these places before. This is true; and in the meantime he has still not been to the Pacific Northwest, up in New England, or down in Mississippi and Louisiana-places he has wanted to visit for years! Reading Mason & Dixon has also made him want to go to Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware. But this will all be remedied during spring, hopefully.

In any case, a perfect day in OK such as this cannot be considered complete without some good food and drink. Here is a dish this Swede has been making for years during fall, back in Sweden.

5-6 potatoes
3-4 carrots
1 rutabaga, a.k.a. swede (yes, it is a little funny)
fresh haricots verts

feta cheese (chunk)

olive oil
salt and pepper
1 dried Ancho chili pepper

Peel the carrots if necessary, then cut them into reasonably sized pieces (carrot sticks used for dipping are a good guideline). Wash the potatoes (but do not peel them!), cut them into wedges. Peel the rutabaga, and then chop it up. Turn up your oven to mid temperature. Then, in a glass cooking pan, mix the potato wedges, carrot sticks, and rutabaga pieces with a generous quantity of olive oil. Season with lots of salt and pepper, and thyme. Add pieces of the dried chili pod. And then, into to oven the pan goes!

It will take a while for these roots & bulbs to be cooked. Sit back and relax, pour yourself a glass of nice wine or beer, and read a magazine. (In my case, the October issue of The Believer. Sewer bears, hah!)
Periodically, check the oven to see if the potatoes are turning golden brown and crispy.

When this does happen, remove the glass pan. Wash and add the haricots, and a little more salt, pepper, and thyme, and give the vegetables a good mixing. Put the pan back in the oven, and wait a little. When the haricots are look like they've been cooked, remove the pot once more. Cut the feta cheese into little cubes and sprinkle them on top of everything.

Put the pan back in the oven again, and watch it closely. You want the feta to melt just a little, or get a little crispy (what happens at this point really depends on the quality of the feta). As soon as this happens, turn off the oven, remove the pan, and serve steaming hot. Done!

Serving suggestions: "Turns into Stone" by Stone Roses on the side, a bottle of Southampton Publick House Pumpkin Ale from Latrobe, PA.

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