--by the time I started working on the "Roasted Eggplant, Tomato and Chick Pea Stew", going for missing ingredients was out of the question. I had no red bell peppers, which the recipe calls for roasting and peeling, but I had a crazy idea that I'd seen a jar of roasted peppers somewhere in my house about a year ago. Unbelievably, within a few seconds I found it in my pantry. (it's a hoarder's pantry, so it's quite miraculous the jar fell into my hands so easily when I needed it!). I didn't have a can of tomatoes, but I did have some fresh ones. I had everything else I needed except the tarragon, so I did without that particular flavor. The stew was so rich and warm and silky and full of flavor and sustenance. Perfect cozy food for our snowy night!
While a stew like this would be lovely with polenta or rice, I served it over my own recipe, "Easy Mashed Roots". This can be made with any root veggie, but it's important to use mostly potatoes. This is my favorite combo:
Easy Mashed Roots
3 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks of about an inch
1 large parsnip, peeled and cut into same size chunks
a large handful of Italian parsley, washed and minced
2 Tbsp. Earth Balance Butter
1/2 c. unsweetened almond milk, or other non-dairy milk
nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste
Boil the roots for 13-15 minutes, then strain them and transfer to a large bowl. It's okay if a little bit of the boiling water remains since the roots will become drier as they cool. add the other ingredients except the parsley, and use a hand masher or pastry-chopper, or a large fork to mash it all together. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. Add parsley and fold into the mash.
Serves 4 as a side dish.
I wait for the mashed roots to cool a little before adding the parsley since I only want the greens warmed, not cooked. I prefer the parsnip with the potatoes because it is so mild and only subtly different from traditional mashed potatoes, and goes with so many different flavors. Depending upon which roots you choose, you can play with the seasonings, though I'd avoid adding sugar as some people like to do with baked sweet potatoes. This is a savory dish, with only the natural sweetness of the roots themselves. If you use a sweet potato you may like a little cinnamon or even a squeeze of lemon. If you add a carrot maybe powdered ginger would be good. Just have fun experimenting.
While we are enjoying being snowed in (after a few hours on the road which should only have been 10 minutes) our hearts go out to those folks who have still not made their way back home after being in the car since yesterday afternoon. Many people abandoned their cars, which had either run out of gas, had spun out and were undrivable, or were simply at a standstill on the highway along with all the other vehicles with nowhere to go since exit and entrance ramps were often completely impassable due to wrecked or unmovable vehicles. Some children were even stranded on buses, or at school overnight. After leaving their cars, some people walked miles to get home. One guy tweeted he had walked 11 miles after being in his car for 15 hours! People slept on the floor at Whole Foods, Publix and CVS, and some were lucky beneficiaries of good-hearted strangers who took them into their homes.
Atlanta is the butt of many jokes today for falling to pieces over 3-7 inches of the white stuff, but bear in mind that the budget does not include much salt/sand or road crew and equipment, since this never happens. Unfortunately the Department of Transportation got it wrong this time and sent all the resources to the wrong part of town. Also, the departments were not communicating and workers and schoolchildren were sent home at the same time, so all of Atlanta was on the road at once. Not many of us have snow tires, and even transplants like we haven't driven on the ice in a long time. We all know how one car wreck can affect traffic on a highway. Imagine 200 wrecks happening simultaneously in a small area (and many times over in other areas too), involving mostly entrance and exit ramps because that's where the slippery hills are, and you get an idea of what we are up against. Abandoned cars still litter the streets, which now cannot be cleared as a consequence. The roads are still too dangerous for the drivers of these vehicles to make their way back to them. We are sending prayers to anyone still in danger, and are counting our blessings to be snugly at home.