25 May 2007

My Plans for Sainthoood

Coconut-Braised Short Ribs and Sweet Potatoes

I think I chose the wrong career. I should have gone into sainthood.
The reason being is that I have developed a marketing strategy that is going to help my friends who are smokers live longer: Package every pack of cigarettes with a sweet potato. Everyone who buys a pack of smokes gets a free sweet potato!

Why? Smoking (or inhaling second-hand smoke) depletes the body of vitamin A. Low levels of vitamin A are linked to emphysema of the lungs and several types of cancer, including that of the lung and heart. Sweet potatoes are high in beta carotene, which the liver converts to vitamin A. So if you breathe in a lot of smoke, your lungs will be in better shape if you can replenish your body with copious vitamin A. Read more if you don’t believe me.

As if this superhuman super-vegetable quality wasn’t enough, the sweet potato also is also a good source of copper, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, potassium, and iron, and an even better source of vitamin C and manganese.

Are you ready for more?
The beta carotenes in sweet potatoes make these root vegetables a high souce of antioxidants, which boost the immune system.

Should I keep going?
A food containing anti-inflammatory nutrients, sweet potatoes are also very healthy for those with asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.

Wait! There’s more!
It hasn’t been proven yet, but there are studies being done that are exploring the effects of sweet potato on people with diabetes. It is hypothesized that sweet potatoes help stabilize blood sugar levels and lower insulin resistance.

Enabling my smoker friends (as well as smokers around the world) to live longer is Plan A for reaching sainthood status. If it doesn’t work, fear not, I have a back-up plan:

I will write a catchy, rhyming song to promote the new packaged deal. The melody will ring through the ears of the nation, and everyone will want to sing along, and then the whole country will be singing the same song all at once and it will be so inspiring that all my smoker friends will want to live longer so that they can keep singing the song forever and ever, so then they will all quit smoking and proclaim me a saint. I also hope that they will all give me a percentage of what they would have spent on cigarettes for the rest of their lives, and then I will be a rich saint, because those are the best kind.

Coconut-Braised Short Ribs and Sweet Potatoes
(because beef is better for you than smoking)
~a Fancy Toast original recipe

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 lb. short ribs, bone-in
1 large onion, chopped coarsely
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons ginger, chopped or grated
1 stick lemongrass, cut lengthwise and smashed with the end of a knife
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 15 oz. cans coconut milk (you can use low-fat if you like)
1/2 cup orange juice
2 cups chicken broth
1 handful cilantro stems, bundled together in cheesecloth or in a teaball

3 sweet potatoes, cut into 1” cubes
1 handful of cilantro leaves

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Farenheit.

Pat the short ribs dry with a paper towel. Rub salt and pepper into all sides of the meat.
In a Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Brown the short ribs, taking care not to crowd the ribs or else they will not brown properly. Do in 2 batches if necessary.
Remove the ribs from the heat and set aside (the lid of the Dutch oven works perfectly for this…it’s going to get dirty anyway, right?)

Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the onions and let soften for a few minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and pepper, and cook until the garlic is fragrant.
Place the short ribs and any accumulated juices back in the Dutch oven, nestling them in one layer, if possible. Add the coconut milk and the orange juice. Add the chicken broth, until the broth is just barely covering the meat. If you don’t use all of the chicken broth, that’s fine. If you need more liquid, add more chicken broth or water.
Place the cilantro stems into the broth.

Cover the Dutch oven and place in the oven. After ten minutes, check the liquid and make sure that it is not bubbling too aggressively. If it is at more than a gentle simmer, turn the heat down.

Cook for thirty minutes. Add the sweet potatoes and cook for about another hour, until the meat and the potatoes are tender.

Remove the cilantro stems from the broth, ladle into individual bowls, and garnish with cilantro leaves.


aria said...

its true what you say of the power of the sweet potato. as an ameteur herpetologist (one who fancies cute little lizards) sweet potato is the equivalent to popeyes spinach. its so interesting to watch, its like a vit b shot to their tiny systems.

this looks delicious, you have been sainted!

Aoife said...

My high school counselor never mentioned sainthood as a possible career option. I should have done my own research.

harriet said...

Sainthood has one major drawback: you have to be dead before you can achieve it (take it from one who knows --one of my late family members became a saint a few years back). And then there would be no more Fancytoast posts. A tragedy indeed. I might actually have to write my dissertation.

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

Where's the song?

If only I liked Sweet Potatoes, then, I could start smoking...hmmm.

Erielle said...

So Aria, do you have lots of little lizards as pets? When I was 8, I had a bunch of anole lizards. I named them after candy bars.

Aoife, my high school counselor never mentioned sainthood either...maybe it's a conspiracy.

Harriet, I totally didn't know that you had to die to become a saint! I guess my high school counselor was right to not steer me towards that career path.

J, um...I didn't write the song yet. That's why it's my backup plan, heh.
You don't like sweet potatoes? Seriously? I can't believe it! There is sadness in my heart. Have you tried cuttng them into small slices and sprinkling them with olive oil and salt and pepper and baking them at 375 for 30 minutes, flipping after 20 minutes? MMMMMMMMMM!

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

I've tried PLENTY of ways of making sweet potatoes, and no matter what I do, they still taste like sweet potatoes to me. My DH and daughter love them, though.

The closest I've gotten to liking them was this dish: http://jellyjules.com/?p=442
Which everyone but me LOVED. Probably all of the sugar and fat. ;)

I wish I liked them...they're so good for you. But since I don't smoke, it's OK, right? I do eat squash, which also has the beta caratine...

Alanna said...

Well if not a saint, then, perhaps a sweet potato evangelist ... :-)

Terry B said...

Forget saving smokers--this dish alone is plenty of reason for sainthood. Wow. A quick question--serves 2? Serves 4?

Y said...

Why stop there? Why not throw away the cigarettes and take up potato smoking? ;p

Reminds me of an episode of Blackadder.. "Bloody potatoes. Next thing you know, they'll be eating them."

Patrick said...

Great blog. Stumbled on it and the pics and stories/recipes are well done. The funny thing about Vit. A and smokers is that in high enough concentrations, it is associated with the increased incidence of lung cancer in smokers. Life is funny that way.


jenjen said...

I'm glad I don't smoke, but I am happy to have my meal witha side of sweet potato any day.

This recipe sounds wonderful, I love anything with coconut milk...YUM!

Lisa said...

That looks just delicious. I adore coconut milk anything. Note to self: Buy short ribs soon!

emily said...

ok, now i have to make this for craig. you are a saint to him just for providing this recipe to me. actually, maybe i'll make it and take all of the credit so he can call ME a saint, then someday after he has showered me with enough gifts and compliments i will tell him the truth. wait, is sainthood transferable?

Erielle said...

J, that sweet potato dish sounds real yummy! Good to know that squash has beta carotenes in it.

Alanna, now I have so many more career options open to me. I'll add that one to the list.

Terry, this would serve 4 people. Sorry about that, I'm bad about writing serving sizes.

Ha ha Y, you're funny!

Thanks Patrick, glad you like the blog. That's too bad about high levels of vitamin A. So I wonder how we are supposed to know how much is too much....? Maybe we'll never know.

Jen, I know how you feel about coconut milk. Pretty much every time I see a recipe with coconut milk, I bookmark it and print it out.

Lisa, short ribs are so good!
If you have a choice, get bone-in. They stay more tender and flavorful. At least that's what I hear.

Emily, I think sainthood is totally transferrable, except that I just learned that you have to die to become a saint. So I am not a saint, because I am not dead, therefore, I cannot pass any saintliness to you.
But I am happy that you will be making this for your hubby! Next time you come over we'll definitely make sweet potatoes to boost his vitamin A levels.

teeni said...

Great post - I can laugh at this now that I am an ex-smoker. ;) But the other great thing about sweet potatoes is they just taste great and are pretty darned versatile. Delicious looking recipe you've got there also!

Mona said...

it looks sinfully yummy :-)


Natasha said...

Here I am, very late to the game. But I made this tonight and it was just yummy wonderful. Thank you!!