Some of life’s impulses are very, very good.
Tuesday’s impulse that ended in me sitting in the airport on Friday morning at 6 am with bag in hand: no flight, no car, and no house key was, however, of the more unfortunate variety.
Mark and I had spent weeks clicking through online rental sites in Charleston, first with rapid zeal, then with well-organized enthusiasm, and then with the same unseeing boredom as you flip through 957 TV channels at 2 am.
You see, there is just no such thing as a house or an apartment downtown with a decent kitchen and at least a small bit of grass that…..
WAIT! What was that?!?!?! GO BACK!
What it was, was the Holy Grail with a convenient traveling case….a unicorn that predicted lottery numbers…an unbelievable 1200 square feet of newly renovated apartment excellency with a yard.
No sooner had we completed an 80’s high five montage, than it occurred to us that there were probably others celebrating this find as well. And that’s when the absurdity sort of took over. Though I would argue that it was the most reasonably, thoroughly discussed, debated and evaluated absurdity since the last session of Congress.
Convinced that someone would be signing a rental agreement and stealing OUR apartment out from under our noses it was decided that we couldn’t wait for Mark to take leave. We booked a flight and a hotel room for one and called the property manager the next day to set up the showing. If only it would remain available for four more days…..
Now, four days might not be enough time to exhaust the news coverage of Miley Cyrus’ latest antics, but it is enough time to study seven pictures of an apartment very closely. More closely than you studied them closely before. And to start doing some algebra and geometry with the numbers on the blurry blueprint you found online. And for seeds of doubt to start blooming.
And so, four days later, after a car ride during which calculations continued, phone calls were attempted and pieces of an unwelcome puzzle were snapped into place, Mark hesitantly dropped me off at the airport. It took another hour to get a hold of the property manager, and when I did, our four days of growing suspicions were confirmed. That 1200 sq feet? It included the three flights of stairs and stairwell. Actual, livable, walk-around-in-your-underwear space was a mere fraction of that.
Flight canceled. Hotel canceled. Stuck at the airport, and I remembered that I left my keys by the toaster. Bully for me.
I did make it home. Eventually. Through the over-the-top goodness of a friend willing to reschedule her entire day to come pick me up and a bit of luck that allowed me to retrieve a house key from the hubs. There was a full refund for the plane ticket and a credit for the hotel room. All in all, I’d say the universe gave us a mulligan.
But remember kiddos: Impulse and apartment hunting make poor bedfellows.
Impulse and this sweet potato carpaccio are the best of friends. This dish was dreamed up by Mark during a New Year’s menu discussion that went something like “Black Eyed Peas?….Duh!….Baby Back Ribs?….Yes!……Sweet Potato Greatness?…..Why not?!” As stunning as it is visually (with that gorgeous orange hue and all dressed up for a party), the taste is even more impressive. Thin and light, the potatoes provide that balanced sweet & salty combination that we all adore. This flavor duet is harmonized by the red chilies that caramelize ever so slightly under the heat of the oven for a touch of spice and a fantastic textural contrast, and is finished off with the earthiness of fresh thyme.
Bonus: if you have a mandolin slicer, achieving this beautiful dish is not any more difficult than arranging a basket of bread. If you don’t have a mandolin, it is still doable, just with a bit more time and (unless you happen to be a samurai…(are you a samurai???)) your potato slices are most likely not going to be as thin, but the dish will still be a winner.
- 1 ½ lbs Sweet Potatoes
- ¼ C Shallot, finely chopped
- 4 T + 1 T Unsalted Butter
- 2 large or 3 medium Dried Guajillo Chilies (or other mild, full-flavored chili), ground*
- 2 T Fresh Thyme
- 2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 T Kosher Salt (note: we found that these potatoes require a lot of salt, so the 1 T is a starting point. You very well may need to add more after it is roasted)
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Melt the 1T of butter on bottom of an oven-safe skillet (cast iron works the best).
- Sauté 1T of the shallots for a minute or so.
- Layer sliced potatoes as demonstrated in photos above.
- In the microwave melt the butter and then mix with the ground chilies. Pour over the top of the potatoes.
- Sprinkle fresh thyme, salt and the remaining shallots over the potatoes and roast for 40 minutes.