Friday, February 19, 2016

South Western Sweet Potato Skillet

with egg
      It's not that I don't know where eggs come from, but after a lifetime of seeing them neatly organized into convenient  packages of 6 or 12 in the brightly lit refrigerated section of the supermarket, I wasn't prepared for the emotional experience of lifting a freshly lain egg from its nest, and holding it in my hands. The feeling was somewhere between finding an unexpected gift under the tree on Christmas morning, and reaching into the candy jar when no one was looking. I felt exhilarated, wide eyed with wonder, and well - a little bit guilty. I then decided that this egg was given freely, and accepted it with deep gratitude.

     I have been taking care of Margarets' chickens (and cat) this week while she is away on a family vacation in (sunny, warm) Florida, and I am having a great time (in spite of sub zero temperatures).  
    I live in a tiny second floor apartment, and usually start my day by staring out the window, and watching the squirrels run rampant on my porch, so getting out first thing in the morning to walk to her house, and feed the animals has been very satisfying on both an emotional and physical level.
   I was born on a farm. It was my fathers' parents farm. It's where he grew up, and where he and my mother started our family. 
   I didn't grow up there. But I grew up with stories from there. My family moved from the farm a few short months after I was born.  My brother and sister were nearly 10 at the time. So all my life I heard people talk of hay filled barns, cows, chickens,and getting into mischief on the farm. I wanted them to be my stories too. I wanted to be from the farm too. But I wasn't. 
   I grew up in a 1960s ranch, in a new neighborhood, with a pool in the back yard. But we always had a garden, so for as long as I can remember, I have been growing things. It's in my blood.
   When I was young, my dad used to dig the holes for the tomato plants, and I would carry the pail of water from the stream that ran through our yard, and pour it in. I would watch as the water sank deep into the earth, leaving it moist and ready  to feed the roots of the young plants. I loved these times, and still to this day look forward to occasionally helping my dad with his garden. But even though I have a connection to the earth and what I eat through my upbringing, I never had the experience of connecting with non-plant based food/ farm animals, until this week. Thanks Margaret for giving me a "farm story" of my own.
   I don't often eat eggs anymore-one every couple of months or so. But because I had taken part, be it a very small part -( I didn't have to deal with the poop-I am leaving that for Margaret when she gets home)(and there's a lot of it!)- in supporting the life of the chickens who produced these eggs, I took one as a gift and made this.

      I would typically make this for breakfast, but you could add some rice or quinoa to the plate (or not) and it would be substantial enough for dinner. I might try it over polenta someday with a side salad. I think that would be a great dinner too. Anyway, it is an easy delicious meal for anytime of day.

Sweet Potato Skillet
Serves 4

1T. olive or coconut oil
1tsp. cumin seed
1tsp. ground cumin seed
1tsp. ground coriander seed
2 onions chopped
1 jalapeƱo chili pepper chopped
1/2 tsp.salt
2 plum tomatoes chopped
3-4 sweet potatoes cut into1/2" cubes
1c. black beans (precooked or canned) if using canned beans rinse them well
3/4c. corn kernels (frozen or fresh)
1/2c. water
4 eggs (optional)

1/2c. chopped cilantro to garnish
pinch of red pepper flakes 

  1.  Heat the oil over medium heat in a cast iron skillet or heavy frying pan. 
  2. Add the cumin seeds and fry until fragrant and golden. Then add the ground spices and chili pepper. Stir for a few seconds.
  3. Add the onions and then sprinkle in the salt, and cook until translucent and starting to brown-about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the tomato, sweet potato, corn, and beans. Stir well, and then add the water.
  5. Cover and let cook until potatoes are tender. Add more water if needed, or remove the cover to let excess steam away.
  6. Make 4 dents/holes in the mix for the eggs (if using) to be broken into. Once the eggs are in, cover the pan and let cook on low until whites are set, and yolks are to desired consistency-5-10 minutes. You can also place the skillet under the broiler to hasten this.
  7. Serve with any or all of the following:

lime wedge
toasted pumpkin seeds
chopped lettuce

Note: if you have a mix of vegans and non vegans at your table, just fry the eggs separately and serve them individually.

1 comment:

  1. This post makes me very happy. I am happy to know that you found pleasure in caring for the chickens, as we have, as well as accepting the gift of their eggs. And now I know something more about you that I didn't--that you were born on a farm! Those early memories and experiences are so formative--even if it was the stories and not the farm itself that left such an impression.