Martian Food

    The Martian: Potatoes & Treats

    Lauren, Sep 18, 2015 | Consuming Fiction

    The Martian will be in theaters on October 2nd, and the critics are saying it is a spectacular film. The novel, The Martian, written by Andy Weir, is an excitingly tense read filled with scientific problem-solving and a ton of action. Weir’s amusing narrator, astronaut Mark Watney, finds himself stranded on Mars, and the story is the tale of his struggle to survive.

    You still have time to read The Martian before Ridley Scott’s film the hits theaters, and I strongly recommend you do, especially if you enjoyed survival stories like My Side of the Mountain when you were young, or Into the Wild as an adult, and also like action-driven narratives. 

    Book clubs or viewing parties should definitely have potato dishes on the menu! We are potato maniacs at All Toasty and some of our favorites are: Potato, Bacon and Chive Salad; Potato, Cheddar and Chive Soup; Potatoes with Oregano and Parmesan; Potato Gratin with Sage and Onions; Creamy Leek and Potato Soup; and the Potato-Gruyere Gratin! 

    A brilliant member of my book club brought a delicious German Chocolate Potato Cake. Mars bars are a cute addition, too. I thought it would be an easy thing to bring to my book club meeting, but discovered that the American version of Mars bars were sold exclusively at Walmart for a while, but have been discontinued. There are still Canadian, British, and European versions in production. I was happily able to find some Mars bars at a local French market that sells European goods.

    Enjoy the potatoes! 

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    An Experiment with Oven Fries

    Spoiler alert: Don't try this at home

    Lindsay, Apr 23, 2015 | Cooking

    Tonight I decided to make Oven Fries, which I have enjoyed at my mom's house more times than I can count. She is always declaring how easy they are, so I was excited to pick up a potato and have fries in just a few minutes. But when I read the recipe, I found that I had to parboil the potatoes first. I tend to avoid recipes that have two steps like this, particularly for a side dish—at least on weekdays when I am trying to get dinner finished quickly (I have a very hungry husband). In fact, I have thrown out a few brussel sprout recipes that required parboiling (also why this one is my favorite) .

    So, the only thing to do was try the recipe without parboiling the potatoes first. I thought I would beat the system by cutting the potatoes very small (think McDonald's). Because I knew this was a risky experiment and really did want the fries, I also followed the recipe for the majority of the sliced potatoes, but cut them all smaller than the recipe called for.

    Here's what I discovered:

    The "experiment fries" browned about twice as fast as the regular ones (which seemed at first like a bonus), didn't absorb the olive oil so tasted really bland and were somewhere between crispy and cardboard-y. Even with a lot of ketchup, they were only tolerable.

    It is a very bad idea to cut the fries very small because they fall apart when you parboil them and you have to flip each one of them individually! Ideally the fries would be on the wider side, but not very thick (you are only going to flip once, so only two sides will brown well).

    In conclusion, my experiment failed. And the parboiling wasn't so bad. And the (real) fries were incredible. And my mother is always right.

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    Hogmanay Traditions

    Have a very Scottish New Year

    Marcella, Dec 24, 2014 | Random Relevant Thoughts

    I started thinking of doing a Scottish party after watching Brave and How to Train Your Dragon (1 and 2) with our granddaughter.  (Although the Dragon movies are set in some fictional Norse place, the dad is voiced by Gerard Butler who is Scottish and sounds it.) Turns out, the Scots really do up New Year's, or Hogmanay, mainly because Christmas was effectively banned in Scotland for 400 years—something to do with the Presbyterians.  And I think Oliver Cromwell was involved.  In any case, Christmas was not even an official holiday in Scotland until 1958.

    Today Hogmanay is celebrated all across Scotland with street fairs, fireworks, fireball swinging (really!) and lots of food and Scotch whiskey.  And right after the stroke of midnight, everyone joins hands in a circle and sings "Auld Lang Syne."  So, in honor of our Hogmanay party:

    "We'll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne".

    Happy New Year.


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    Serbian Spirits for The Tiger's Wife

    Lauren, Dec 23, 2014 | Consuming Fiction

    Gavran Gailé, the deathless man, may have preferred water, but nearly everyone else in Téa Obreht's fascinating novel, The Tiger's Wife drinks rakija, so I was delighted to find this tasty hot toddy recipe for the traditional Serbian drink, Vruca Rakija. Vruca Rakija is a wintertime staple that is often served at Christmas. Rakija, rakia, or rachiu is a common alcoholic beverage throughout the Balkans. There are a number of different fruits used to make different versions; slivovica is made with plums.

    Obreht's beautifully written first novel is steeped in magical realism and set in an unnamed Balkan province similar to the one that Obreht herself lived in as a young child in the former Yugoslavia. Obreht tells the tale of Natalia, a young doctor who has grown up in a country ravaged by war, as she begins to come to terms with the death of her grandfather.

    I loved the complexity of The Tiger's Wife and certainly recommend it to anyone prepared to be immersed in heavy themes. I recommend the Vruca Rakija to anyone who enjoys sugary hot toddies, or plans to spend an evening alone at a crossroads waiting for the deathless man.

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