Sunday, December 27, 2015

Plant Splurge #2: Deppea splendens

I took a trip back east to visit my family in September, and brought along with me - in a carry-on bag, mind you - this little Deppea splendens plant  from Annie's Annuals.  An extremely rare and sought after specimen, it is now believed to be extinct in the wild. So very sad.

I gave the little guy to my mom, whose thumb is so green she could probably make a broom stick sprout. Even the metal kind. She also needs another plant even less than I do. But she was happy, and certainly was able to make the little plant happy - it's already bloomed in its original 4" pot. Imagine what it will do once it gets repotted into something bigger.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Janet E. Hawkes

Saturday, December 12, 2015

When the Chips are Down, Try Carrots

Kale chips, mustard chips, turnip top chips, carrot chips, sweet potato chips - this year, we tried 'em all. And all of them were pretty darn good. But which vegetable stood out from the crowd? According to the song, it's the cheese that stands alone. But in my chip world, it's the carrots.

I grew carrots this year, but they were too puny to easily turn into chips. Tasty, but pretty punk. To do chips properly, it's best to have those thick and stocky ones: the ones that under most circumstance, you avoid.

Recipes abound on the web, but here is pretty close to what I remember actually doing:

Preheat oven to 425°

o   2-3 large, fat carrots, peeled
o   1-2 tsp. olive oil
o   salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
o   small pinch of cumin (optional)

Shave the carrots lengthwise in strips with vegetable peeler (I use an OXO Swivel Peeler; some recommend a Y-shaped peeler). Press fairly hard so that the strips of carrot are thicker than regular old peelings. It's a little awkward, but this is the hardest part, beyond sharing the chips with others.

Save the down-to-the-nub ends of the carrots for another cooking project.

Place the carrot strips in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, add salt and pepper (and cumin). Gently toss with your hands until completely coated.

Put the carrot strips on an oiled baking sheet in a single layer. The strips can be touching, but not overlapping. They will shrink a lot, especially width-wise.

Bake for 12 minutes and then check. The carrots will probably need another 5 minutes in the oven, but you do not want them to get too brown. The edges of the chips should be a golden brown when they are ready to be removed.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Do not try to move the chips from the baking sheet until they are crisp - 5 minutes or so.  Transfer to a tall glass and serve.

This makes enough carrot chips to fill two baking sheets and feed about six polite people or 2 very hungry ones. I suppose you can store them in an airtight container, but I have never seen any left over.