room for the quiet.

October is everything I love about fall, and Ohio, and outside, and for that matter, life. And there are leaves.  Did I mention the leaves?  The leaves, around here, have no shame whatsoever.

They say it's a bad year for color, in these parts, late summer too hot and no rain for a true autumn show.  I'm thinking they ought to get a new prescription.  Half the landscape is up in flames at the moment, gaudy and brash and ridiculously majestic.

We've been caught up off-guard in brilliant gold blizzards, sudden gusts stripping entire Honey Locusts of their leaves.

I walked the red carpet just yesterday afternoon. I hadn't meant to, hadn't really the time to, had other things to do, in fact.  But I went anyway. I went because the weather was mild and balmy.  Temperatures were to climb toward seventy, they very nearly did, short only a few degrees.  Warm enough, anyway, that I got to go unearth flip flops and ditch the hoodie.

Flip flops. 
Late October. 
That's just crazy.

Anyway, I went.  It seemed wasteful not to.  Borderline insulting. I kicked myself out the door mumbling,  "It's amazing out there.  Don't you dare squander this day." Clouds were a myth.  Breezes were filmy.  The sky was, well, amazing.  Cerulean.  Indigo.  Beyond blue.  The leaves were doing what deciduous leaves do, parading shamelessly, all pomp and circumstance.  I'm no fan of pomp, as applied to daily life, but I think it suits Ginkos and Sweet Gum just fine.

 It has been quite a Fall.

Today the rain falls in silent streams down the window pane and I'm responding with a need for blankets, quiet and hot tea. There is a word to describe an odd creature such as myself who finds solace and comfort in the rain, yet I know I am a true Pluviophile.  The brisk red underline of spell check infers that we are not yet a recognized group. 

But I know I am not alone.

On rainy days there is room for the quiet. 
There is room for contemplation and solitude sans guilt.

just sayin'.

Rosemary Garlic Roasted Potatoes
Roasted potatoes are nothing revolutionary or new. That said, there are a few tips that seem to take them from good to glorious.  First of all, I've found par-boiling is essential, as is ample salt in the pot.  Raw potatoes put in a hot oven always wind up dry and sad.  Potatoes allowed a ten minute head start in a properly salted, boiling hot bath become irresistibly tender-hearted.

A hot oven helps lock in your gains, as does a loose wrist with the olive oil. Together, high heat and a good gloss create this perfect sort of storm, locking in moisture, searing flat sides, burnishing the odd corner to something like crunch. 

Before the olive oil meets the potatoes, before the potatoes meet the heat, the oil is amended by four cloves of minced garlic, plus four tablespoons' fresh rosemary.  Ordinary ingredients.  Extraordinary quantities. These aren't so much seasoned as inundated, which is a fine fate for a potato.
The spuds wind up tweedy with rosemary, which sizzles until almost crisp in the oil, and whispers its piney, resinous way deep into the mild white of the root. The garlic alternately mellows and roasts, going amber in spots and ochre in others, lending a heady sticky sweet.  And the potato is the foil for it all, the silent hero, the very good sport.  Its insides go enviably creamy, soft and yielding, welcoming.  Its starchy outsides catch on the hot sheet, making excellent edges to nibble and ponder.  It upholds all that flavor, fragrant and bold, with a quiet, forthright confidence.  Which is, after all, what it does best, the steadfast potato, constant and true.

 Also, if you have fleur de sel, that fancypants French salt, this is the place to use it, a final crumble adding irresistable crunch and bling to the hot spuds.  That said, you may also use a flurry of kosher crystals, also lovely.

2 pounds small, waxy potatoes, such as fingerling, Yukon Gold, or red boilers
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons rosemary needles, stripped, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
fleur de sel or additional salt for finishing
freshly ground pepper, to taste

Parboil Potatoes:  Wash potatoes, leave skins on, and halve or quarter, depending on size, for pieces no larger than 1".  Place potatoes in a large saucepan with 2 quarts of cold water and 2 teaspoons of salt.  Bring to the boil over high heat, and continue to boil until potatoes can be pierced with a knife tip, but only just, about 10 minutes.  Remember, they will finish cooking in the oven.  Drain potatoes in a colander, and set aside. 

Roasting:  Preheat the oven to 425°, and place a rack in the lower third.  Place drained potatoes in a large mixing bowl, and toss with olive oil, rosemary, garlic, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Spread seasoned potatoes in a single layer on a large, rimmed baking sheet.  (Potatoes will hold, at this point, 2 hours at room temperature, or overnight in the refrigerator.)  Roast potatoes until edges are burnished and surfaces golden, 20-30 minutes, testing a few along the way to ensure insides are still creamy.  Serve piping hot.    


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