WND – Let’s Party Like It’s 1517

February 12, 2009


Apparently the world wants to party like it’s the Middle Ages. If it isn’t news that the Catholic Church is bringing back indulgences (did they learn nothing from the Reformation?), it’s articles in the New York Times about people turning off their refrigerators. To be fair, the New York Times sounds as skeptical about the whole endeavor as I feel.

There’s being green, and being a locavore, and being conscious of your carbon footprint, and then there’s turning the clock back 60 years. There have been advances in food technology that I would argue have been of dubious merit in the long run – truck farming, mass production of meat, genetic enhancements in the dairy and vegetable industries – but I’m hard pressed to understand why the refrigerator is one of them. Are we looking to return the days of salting all of our meat to make sure it doesn’t spoil (and then seasoning it heavily because it’s a little spoiled anyway)? Or to the days when you had to keep a cow in the backyard if you wanted fresh milk? I’m as big a fan of Eleanor of Aquitaine as the next girl with troubadour music on her ipod, but the only version of the Middle Ages I’d be willing to actually live in is the one run by the SCA*.

I am, admittedly, exaggerating here. Nobody is suggesting a return to the days of salted meat – at least not as a staple. What people who are turning off their refrigerators are doing instead is buying any perishable ingredients on a daily basis and cooking exactly what is needed for that meal. In some ways this is a very European (or at least French, I can’t speak for the rest of Europe) life style – although they’re doing it to get the freshest food not because they don’t believe in refrigerators.

I still think it’s inconvenient, and I always wonder what other people are doing with their lives that they seem to have so much more free time than I do. I already don’t eat until 8pm, stopping at the grocery store every night would mean that I didn’t eat until 8:30-9pm. I have other things to do with my life than spend my entire evening making/eating/cleaning up from dinner. I have email to check, and a baby quilt to make, and essays about obsessive environmentalists to write. I also wonder, have these people given up entirely on dairy products? Or are they constantly buying and throwing milk away?

Actually, one of the things that I liked about the NYT article was that a number of the people they interviewed said that by the time you calculated the additional carbon costs of going to the grocery store more often (more gas used) and buying ingredients in smaller quantities (more packaging required) what you’re saving is either negligible or you have in fact created a larger carbon footprint than if you just used your fridge. They also pointed out that your average energy efficient fridge doesn’t really use all that much energy. To which I say amen. I like my fridge and I refuse to feel guilty about it. And if it turns out that I have to, apparently indulgences are back on the table.

* Society for Creative Anachronism – if you have to ask, you probably don’t want to know.

Sautéed Chicken
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Apple Sauce

Roasted Sweet Potatoes
(serves 2 – multiply as needed)

2 medium sweet potatoes
3 cloves garlic
1” long hunk of ginger, peeled
Cloves/All Spice
Olive oil

Peel and cut the sweet potato into a ½” dice*. Place on a rimmed baking sheet.

Grate the ginger and garlic on top of the sweet potatoes. You’ll probably end up with a mass of stringy pith from the center of the ginger. Squeeze this to get all the ginger milk, and then discard.

Sprinkle generously with cinnamon, salt and pepper. Sprinkle abstemiously with cloves and/or all spice (really, a little goes a long way). Toss with enough olive oil to coat, but not so much that it’s pooling on the baking sheet.


Roast in a 425 oven for 25-30 minutes until crispy. Toss once at around the 10-15 minute mark.

If you are multiplying this recipe you want to be careful not to crowd your pan too much. If the pan is too crowded the individual cubes of sweet potato won’t develop a nice roasted crust. I made six large sweet potatoes to serve eight at Dinner this week and divided the batch between two baking sheets (and turned the oven up to 450 to compensate for additional volume of food in the oven).

* You can cut this into a larger dice, but it’ll take longer to cook and crisp the sweet potatoes and if you aren’t careful your ginger and garlic will burn.


Yes, I know, not even remotely local or in season. But, we’re having that magical week in February when the weather warms up and we all start fantasizing about Spring even though we know that there’s at least another two months of winter left, and suddenly I couldn’t bear the thought of another bite of broccoli.

Apple Sauce

Recipe previously given: Bangers ‘n’ Mash




  1. […] Recipe previously given:    Let’s Party Like It’s 1517 […]

  2. […] Recipe Previously Given:  Let’s Party Like It’s 1517 […]

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