Saturday, January 17, 2009

Papa's Potatoes

So last week my Little Brother posted about my quirky father who definitely deserves a nod in my blog as well.

My dad has spent the better half of his life working to support his family, working from 3pm -11pm to make sure that someone could be home to take care of the kids in the day time. His work is fairly stressful and he commutes about an hour a day, each way in Los Angeles traffic. All this taken together makes for a man who snacks a lot to keep him awake during drives and eats his dinner at midnight, sleeping immediately afterwards. I spent my teenage years really embarassed to drive his car, which would always be littered with orange peels and peanut shells, but I never really expressed these sentiments either because I understood what he was going through. Nowadays I'm more concerned about his eating habits because they've led to a case of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) from eating at night. **

**By eating at night not only do you stimulate stomach acid production at an odd hour, but by sleeping afterwards you end up preventing gravity from taking its course in moving food downwards, instead letting a lot of food in your stomach slide up to the sphincter that separates your stomach from the esophagus. This pressure on the sphincter can cause it to relax and allow stomach acids into the esophagus, leading to heartburn.**

Anyhow, I try not to give him much grief about the late night eating because it was during the times that he was eating at home late at night that we caught up on time in my life that he'd missed while I was at school and while he was at work. He made me french fries...the ultimate subject of this post.


I have my dad to thank for this guilty pleasure to be found in potatoes. Few weeks would go buy where I didn't have fresh cut french fries. However, since leaving the house I've tried to be a bit healthier by avoiding frying. I've gotten more into the habit of baking and broiling potatoes, now finding an ingenious invention for making oven-baked fries.

It's a benriner, a Japanese spiral slicer. I got one for my mom, but hers is a vertical loading version [and the model on her box does not look nearly as horrible]. The horizontal model that is pictured is supposedly a better model, however the vertical model allows gravity to help keep the vegetable in line with the blade for even slicing. With the horizontal model, one has to apply steady lateral pressure into the blade. But let's take a look at the results...I started out with some Okinawan sweet potatoes for color and then some old-fashioned golden potatoes.

Note that the spirals come out as one continuous strand, which makes them extremely fun to eat...although a challenge to cook. The benriner also has blade attachments for the creation of fine strings, however my goal today was to make some baked chips.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss the spirals in some olive oil and salt. Add other seasonings as you like; I added some lemon pepper to my potatoes. The Okinawan sweet potatoes I simply added salt because they're naturally somewhat sweet. Lay the spirals out onto a baking sheet with parchment paper and bake for 10-15 minutes or until they crispen to your liking. Careful with the Okinawan sweet potatoes though because they go from delicious to carcinogenic sooner than you can say "Okinawan sweet potato."

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