|In case I forget to mention it later: this perfect and crazy-nutritious dinner is a tremendous hit with everyone in the family.
Some grown-ups come, and older kids too—Ben and Birdy and their friends—and they usually start off with the protective armor of irony, and they usually give it up by the end of the fortune. But mostly it’s the very small kids, with the parents waiting with a baby in a little front pack. And what I’m getting to is this: that’s so not me anymore. I’m one of the parents of the big kids who are running the face paint booth themselves; I am not one of the parents with a baby and a preschooler falling into the rubber-duck pool and weeping about cotton candy, and I don’t understand how it happened, and sometimes I’m sad about it. But mostly I’m not. Because this is the face of 12:
And, not to brag, but we got to watch both Raising Arizona (“Son, you got a panty on your head.”) and Spinal Tap (“These go to eleven.”) with Ben. And when we watched the newborn videos on his birthday, I thought: everything I love most about him has changed not at all. His incredible sweetness and his smile and his sense of humor—even though back then, what made him laugh was sticking his foot into the poopy diaper. But still. I would sometimes like him to be the size of a football the better to tuck him under my arm and keep him close, sure. I would like to rock in a chair while he napped in my lap, of course. But his head smells like a baby’s head to me, like his own baby head, and his smile still inflates me with gladness, and, um, he makes us dinner.
Sweet (Potato) Sundaes
Serves: however many potatoes you make
Active time: 30 minutes; total time: 2 hours
Obviously, this is a use-what-you-like-best or use-what-you-have situation. Any kind of cheese or nuts or herbs would be great. Skip the bacon (if you’re crazy and/or a vegetarian). Other veggies would be nice too: we had roasted cabbage as a side dish, but you could add roasted veggies to your sweet potatoes, or top each one with a small handful of arugula. What if you topped them with black beans and salsa and sour cream and a crumble of tortilla chips? That would be good too, wouldn’t it?
Large, clean sweet potatoes (I like jewel yams or garnet yams best)
Diced bacon, cooked until crisp
Sliced onions, sautéed in olive oil until very browned and sweet
Heat the oven to 425. Prick the sweet potatoes all over with a fork, then place them on a baking sheet (I lined mine with foil in case they were going to ooze messily), and bake them until they feel very soft when you press them—1-1 ½ hours.
Meanwhile, place all the toppings in little bowls and put them on the table.
Give each person a split sweet potato for topping. Don’t forget to eat the skin, which is delicious and full of nutrients!
|"Do you know why you poke them?" I asked Ben, and he said, "So they don't phhht Farmer-Boy explode right into your eye." Exactly.
|Ben, paying close attention.
|Ben, paying no attention at all. Um, hello? Hot pan! Stove! Grrr.
|The toppings. We had some beautiful bacon ends from a friendly ex-pig, and they were perfect to cut up for this meal.
|Like I always say, any meal that involves personalized composition is bound to be a hit around here.
|And for Birdy, any meal that involves feta and chives is going to be a good thing.
|Michael's potato is what you might call loaded.
|Ocular proof of a good dinner.