Tuesday, October 11

Experimentation is the Spice of Life

The other day I was shopping at Rancho Markets, located in our local Latino Mall, and came home with a special spice. A spice I had never tried. A spice that I needed to try, even if just to say I had. I Love to shop at Rancho Markets for a number of reasons, one being that they have such amazing deals on things that I love. I'm still working on my theory for why certain things are cheaper there and others are not, but the biggest assumption is that it all comes down to what is cheapest in Mexico at the time. In a one income (actually, 1 full time student, 1 part time student, 1 part time work) household we do the best we can to eat sustainably. For some reason I felt inclined to write that in an equation: S+1/2S+1/2W= Us, which mostly means we grow as many tomatoes, veggies and herbs as we can and eat locally produced bread and such when we don't make our own. I recently learned that as far as sustainability goes, in some ways Mexico is way ahead of us in the United States. I figure they must realize that their future depends on their natural resources (Gol! Gol! Gol!), a big part of them being agriculture and tourism. Mostly they lead certain areas of biodiverse cropping.  So while my rationale is not completely free of holes, I like shopping there. Mostly for the produce.

I Love Fall's abundance of red, orange and brown colored things. As much as I prefer the greens of basil or spinach, sweet potatoes, yams, apples and pumpkins make me feel like all is well. Last week I took one trip to Rancho Markets because they had Yams on sale. 4 pounds of yams for every dollar spent. As usual I wandered around the tables with mounds of limes and papayas and cactus leaves, but stopped at the yuca. My eye was caught by the price hanging, hand written above them. 3 lbs/$1. Into my cart, literally exploding with sweet orange fleshed baby yams, I tossed in two plumply round wax covered tubers, not knowing what on planet earth I was going to do with them. And now, a week later, I want to experiment, which is the true spice of life. As I write my house is being filled, inch by cubic inch, of a smell that I have never experienced. It is earthy, nutty, sweet and new. And yet half an hour ago I had no idea what to do with two plumply round brown skinned fibrous yuca. About an hour ago I went in search of what to do, if I was smart and planned all of our meals out ahead of time, it would probably be for a different day. If. I typed in, like I always do, the name of the ingredient I wanted to use, and found a lot of other people who had the exact problem as I did. Very few people (who use the internet for finding food related inspiration) have any idea what to do with a yuca. So I figured I'd better write a blog about it, actually I felt a responsibility to blog about it. Of course, even as I write I don't know if the experiment will be a success. I don't know if anyone will want to try my yuca fries, even my husband or my two cookie loving children.  But here is what I did:

Roasted Yuca Fries:

Start by pealing the Yucca root. (Some have a waxy coating for preservation, I just checked to see that it IS compostable) Cut the Yucca into 2 or three shorter sections equaling your desired length of fries (when in doubt, 2-3 inches). Cut these sections into 1/2 inch thick julienne strips which you will then proceed to toss in olive oil to coat. Then toss yet again onto a baking sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt and any other spices you like. I am a garlic fiend, so I shook some dehydrated California garlic granules over it all, followed by some nutmeg, because I put nutmeg in just about everything (no joke).

Turn your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Put your pan on the top rack. Set your timer for 20 minutes. and check every 5 minutes after that, turning every time. In total I ended up with about 35 minutes total oven time. If I were to do it again, I'd cover with tin foil for the first 20 minutes or so. You know the fries are done when the edges start to turn golden brown. Serve them with, oh ANYTHING.

Ok, so I finished my experiment. To judge whether or not it was a success I have my picky-cookie-loving-son Nahuel, who ate half of them himself. Granted he slithered and slathered them in ketchup, and it took him most of the afternoon to finish them, but hey, he's two. The texture was dense, crisp outside, soft inside. I thought it was more satisfying and better tasting than potato fries because there was more to taste and it's a tad bit sweeter than a potato.

1 comment:

Cox Family said...

Ooh, I never would have known what to do with this...Thank you for sharing. I will have to buy yuca the next time I head to Rancho. (I was told a theory about the cheap prices there, but it wasn't a happy one, so I won't worry you with it! ha ha)