It’s been pretty gloomy out lately. Yet it’s Spring, so I guess you have to take the gloom to get to the sunshine… sounds like a metaphor for life. But somehow it always seems that the first thing to greet us in the Spring around here are weeds. Yeah, mother effing weeds. I can’t tell what’s a vegetable out there and what’s a weed in our garden (more on that in a minute).
Logan comes from a farming family/community so he took it upon himself when we moved in a few years ago and actually had a little backyard, to plant vegetables. And while he may be (almost) an engineer, he has farmer blood. I don’t think anyone would be as excited as this kid was about growing something. He even made a makeshift greenhouse the first year, that happily camped out in MY kitchen that included massive lights (that I was not too happy about). All so that he could get the seedlings going before Spring actually hit. I believe we were growing tomatoes, squash (zucchini and summer) and cucumbers that year. Yeah, and carrots.
Well since that first plant, we haven’t needed to re-plant those veggies and if anything we need to yank, as our garden has been hijacked by them. Every year tomatoes and squash come back with a vengeance… it’s our own Little Shop of Horrors. And every year a squash plant goes on the attack growing like Rapunzel’s hair and spreading itself like mad, all while suffocating anything in it’s path – it’s a beast. And frankly, we don’t have the space for the little terrors so unfortunately we don’t do any squashing anymore. But the thing is we never know what’s coming. When Spring hits, anything green could really be just about anything.
I am so thankful though for what little space we do have to be able to grow what we can. Unfortunately though as much as I LOVE starchy yummy root veggies, I feel that the length of time coupled with the nice chunk of space that they use just doesn’t seem efficient for us to grow them either. Logan on his own could nom on an entire carrot crop in one sitting, so the market still wins out on that one. Seriously sad. And yes, we learned this by experience.
What I do love to plant though are herbs. Every. Kind. I use herbs like Paula Deen uses butter. And there is nothing that compares to fresh herbs. A typical meal instantly feels lighter, fresher and more wholesome with the use of fresh instead of dried. Plus it’s a million times prettier. So yeah. My dream would be to have a greenhouse someday in some fashion and have fresh veggies and herbs at my fingertips. Ohh…. love…
The two veggies I really up’ed in my diet over winter were cauliflower and sweet potatoes. Cauliflower is so versatile. And sweet potatoes are Vitamin A and beta-carotene packed, and just do something magical when matched up with a little bit of heat and smokiness. And that brings us to these little sweet potato chips do just that. A little bit of heat and a little bit of smokiness to make for a super tasty and a bit spicy veggie chip.
Have you had veggie chips before? If not, OH. MY. GOSH! They make potato chips boring. You can make chips out of most veggies specifically roots or brasicass are the best. I’ve never met a chip I didn’t like. For reals. Now sure you can buy a bag of veggie chips at the store, but why not make them yourself for a fraction of the price without any fancy equipment such as a dehydrator required. AND these babies are baked NOT FRIED! Gosh there is a lot of CAPS happening around here.
So making sweet potato chips can be kind of tricky at first. It’s not a cut and dry recipe. It’s a do what looks right sort of deal. I tested three different surfaces and three varying amounts of oil, including no oil at all to get the best results. That’s how serious I am about getting the perfect chip. Here, let’s just start with some tips already…
CHIP BAKING TIPS:
A mandoline is really the best route. Otherwise, try to cut your slices as thinly as possible. I’m talking 1/8 inch or 1/16 inch. Yeah thin!
Lay the slices flat and without overlapping on the baking sheet . Crowding creates moisture which will make for soggy chips.
Use aluminum foil. I’ve used my silpat and have had far inferior results as it seems to hold the moisture more, and the same thing with parchment. Aluminum foil was the only sure fire way to avoid leathery chips.
Keep your eye on the prize. As there are sooo many variables when cooking these you have to play chef = best judgment, and keep your eye on them. Depending on your ovens heat distribution, thickness of slices, diameter of slices, and amount of oil used (along with a number of other factors) directly impacts your cooking time. So don’t just walk away from these guys. They also will go from perfect to dark brown quickly. Stay alert.
Remove as you go. They will cook at different rates, for the reasons mentioned above, so simply pull out chips as they begin to brown around the edges and appear to be dry instead of moist in the center. They may still feel soft(ish) but will crisp up as they cool.
Lay chips in a flat and uncrowded place to cool, and make sure to leave them uncovered. If you stack/place them all together, and/or especially if you cover them, they won’t crisp up due to the moisture/heat not being able to escape.
So while it’s tricky to give you exacts on time, it’s really simple to make overall. Plus a single potato makes a good little batch of chips and if a few go awry you’ll still have plenty to nom on.
Lastly, don’t be afraid of a little browning, brown = crispy for sure, and they don’t taste burnt oddly enough… unless you let the whole chip turn dark brown or black and then yeah it’s basically burnt.
Well, I don’t know what we are going to plant this year after fending off the squash should it return. It’s kind of a wait and see what pops up on us again. But every year I always ask Logan what he wants to plant. And every year I get the same answer… a jalapeno plant.
- 1 large sweet potato or yam, washed/scrubbed (NOT peeled)
- olive oil spray
- chipotle powder
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Using a mandoline carefully slice sweet potato using a “1″ setting. You want full slices and for them not to be see through, but not to be thick. Once entire potato has been sliced, lightly spray with olive oil. You want just a light coating on both sides, do not saturate. Slices should be just a tad bit moist from spray and not soaking/wet. Then sprinkle slices with chipotle powder, as little or as much as you like (it’s spicy so beware).
- Place slices flat and in a single layer on baking sheet. You may need to bake multiple batches depending on the number of slices. Place baking sheet in oven.
- Bake slices for 10 minutes, flip slices over and rotate pan. Bake for another 10 minutes, while beginning to check after 5 minutes. When slices have began to lightly brown on edges and centers appear drier (not glistening/wet) pull chips out and lay flat in a single layer to cool. Chips will take varying amounts of time to cook, so just keep pulling those that have finished and cooking until all have finished baking.