Tag Archives: sweet potatoes

Picking oranges and other food, in California


Picking Oranges in near Santa Barbara, CA

So Kim and I, who live in Michigan, visited our friend Satpreet, in Southern California, this past weekend. There was nothing good at the cinema, so we thought, why not? (kidding)

One of our main goals was to try loads of good food – and that we did. In addition to the burritos from the Mexican food truck, the amazing Indian food our friend’s mom made and the oranges fresh from the tree, we picked spectacular places to eat. If any of you makes it out to SoCal, and you’re not the Bubba Gump type, then you might just absolutely adore these places.


Cafe Gratitude – Los Angeles

Our first day in L.A. we ate at Cafe Gratitude, near West Hollywood (around the corner from Paramount Studios!). Cafe Gratitude was, in short, simply and subtly magnificent.

Kim and Satpreet at Cafe Gratitude, LA

Everything on the menu is titled I AM HAPPY, I AM THRIVING, I AM GLORIOUS and so on. That weekend was one of the rare few days that it rained (and snowed and hailed…), and they had a chalkboard asking “What do you like most about the rain?” Dancing in it, the smell, the rainbow that follows. I came up with the somewhat lame, but truthful, answer of “just the rain.”

We ordered 3 dishes to split: I AM FESTIVE, I AM COMFORTED and I AM HEARTY (Taco salad with walnut chorizo & cashew cheese, roasted rosemary yams with spicy nacho cheese, and pesto pizza on onion crust with cashew ricotta & topped with brazil nut parmesan, respectively.)

The food was fresh, healthy, unique, and most importantly, delicious. Normally, “vacation-food” insists on being greasy, heavy and over-eaten. But aside from our grilled cheese from In-N-Out, I felt good and healthy at the end of the weekend – no guilty conscience and resolution to jog every day. These were 3 dishes, and 3 words, that easily sum up our feelings of being together again.



I’m sad I have little hope of returning to it very soon. For a full day and a half, I named Cafe Gratitude my favorite restaurant, but our later food ventures forced me to push it to 2nd place.

Backyard Bowls – Santa Barbara

In Santa Barbara we ate at Backyard Bowls, no doubt one of the most unique eateries and so perfect for our palettes. We split two bowls, the Green Bowl (Acaí, Banana, Broccoli, Spinach, Ginger, Lime Juice & Apple Juice with Strawberries, Blueberries, Granola & Honey) and Diego’s Power Bowl (Acaí, Banana, Strawberry, Hemp Protein, Peanut Butter, & Hemp Milk with Banana, Hemp Seeds, Granola & Honey). The pictures don’t do them justice – I couldn’t imagine their delicious-ness from the website’s photos. You just have to taste them for yourself.

I desperately wish we had a Backyard Bowls near where I live – It’s worth the $8 bucks, and the serving is fairly big anyway. Kim and I have both tried to more closely imitate these bowls (though unique yogurt concoctions are far from foreign in our kitchens), but nothing compares to the flavors they’ve put together.

Until next time!

-Beth


Sweet Potato Cranberry Strudel


Even I’m surprised that the last three entries of this blog are sweet potato recipes! But what can you do? Sweet potatoes are an amazing food, so why stop eating them? This most recent recipe, the strudel, is from a book I bought at borders for only a few dollars. But I probably would have spent more on it. It’s called Savory Baking. I love baked goods. I love the texture of quick breads, I love the variety of recipes, I love eating them with peanut butter and yogurt. I love pulling them out of the oven a couple minutes before the timer is set to go off. I love not waiting for the food to cool and burning my tongue, I love pastries, I love eating the batter. I just love it all.

But, sometimes, I don’t feel like eating cake and sweet muffins all the time. Because it’s not healthy, but also I just don’t feel like eating something sweet every time I feel like baking. That’s exactly the purpose of this book! I picked it up and immediately wanted to buy it, but then I opened the book to the Sweet Potato Cranberry Strudel I knew I was doomed. BOTH my favorite fall-time foods in ONE RECIPE and then WRAPPED IN PASTRY DOUGH. Can it get better? Maybe, but it’s so close to perfection why bother trying? I made it the other day and here’s the recipe.

Sweet Potato Cranberry Strudel

1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup raisins (calls for golden, but I used the more common darker kind)
1 medium sweet potato
salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (I only used 1/2 cup, which I thought was too much in the end)
1/2 pound (8 ounces) phyllo pasty, thawed
1/4 cup toasted pecan pieces and finely chopped (I believe I used closer to a half cup, but perhaps I just over did it)
coarse sea salt

Put the dried fruit in a small bowl and pour hot water over them, set aside to plump for 10 minutes, then drain.

Put the chopped sweet potato in a medium saucepan, cover with hot water and cook on high heat until fork-tender. Do the same with carrots (which might take longer). Drain the potatoes and carrots.

Put butter in small saucepan over high heat until it turns at golden-brown color, then pour butter into a small dish and set aside.

Smash together the potatoes and carrots with 6 tablespoons of butter (I think few tablespoons would have tasted better, but that’s just me), and blend in the dried fruit. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Unroll the phyllo dough. While working, you might want to place a slightly damp towel over the yet-unused dough so it doesn’t dry out. Place a layer of dough onto your work baking sheet/work surface, brush butter over it, and sprinkle with your chopped toasted pecans and a little sea salt. Do 7 layers of this. On the last layer, spread the potato and carrot mixture on one of the long edges of the dough. Pack it tightly and roll it closed. Brush with butter and sprinkle with pecans and sea salt.

Place in oven for 25 minutes. When done, cut slowly with a serrated knife with sawing motions, or else your pastry will most definitely flake (still tastes the same, though)

I didn’t even put the proper amount of butter in. I just couldn’t do it. It’s so much butter. SO MUCH. It’s fine if I was only planning on eating a little bit, but I was planning on eating a lot of it, and I didn’t want that much butter. Phyllo dough usually calls for brushed butter in between each layer, so that it’s browned and delicious once baked. I was worried skimping on the butter would create poor results. Some parts of the dough were falling apart when I took it out of the oven, and I think it’s due to the fewer tablespoons of butter slathered in between the phyllo dough layers. But i wasn’t really complaining.

I couldn’t wait for it to come out of the oven, and after hurrying through photographing it (got a lot of blurry photos, unfortunately. Unprofessional? Maybe. Hungry? Very.). I sliced up a peice and ate into it. My first thought was that it was far too buttery than was necessary. I don’t need that much butter. I love butter to enhance foods, but when I’m eating something and I taste “butter” and not “pastry dough”, something is wrong. However, besides that, this recipe was absolutly delicious! I just couldn’t get enough of it! I ate a quarter of it before I felt sick (from the butter). The sweet potato was perfect and the cranberry and raisins added amazing and subtle sweetness. I want to make this again, but perhaps with something besides butter in between the dough. Maybe egg yolk or watered down sweet potato puree? Or if that doesn’t work, I could use a thicker dough to eliminate the need for all the layer of butter. I also might try it with seasonings. I’m surprised it didn’t have any! It was delcious as it, though.

This recipe is great for a holiday party or family gathering. I think everybody will love it.