Scott and his mandolin

My husband is an accomplished mandolin player. He has a beautiful 1918 Gibson that is perfect for the old time jazzy numbers that he plays for the mature adult folks at Columbine Health Systems facilities. When we first met and fell in love I thought I could learn the mandolin. It’s smaller and lighter than a guitar – just right for my delicate female constitution. After a few minutes of strumming, I gave up. I didn’t have the patience for it at all. Scott made it look so easy. I decided to stick to the piano. And the kitchen.

Even though I love my food processor, for years I have coveted the manual slicing, dicing and julienning mandolin. I imagined perfect, slender french fries and crispy sweet potato and beet chips. Without the guilt of frying. Oh, how I love starchy root vegetables.

This year we are winter members of the Monroe Organic Farm, our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) organic family farm food source. We’ve been summer members for six years, but we finally took the plunge and last week we got pounds of yukon golds, sweet potatoes, acorn squash, leeks, celery, carrots, onions, garlic, lettuce and even a few stray tomatoes. We’re splitting a share with another member, so every two weeks through March, we’ll get a load of goodies.

Beth's Mandolin

Beth's Mandolin

With my commitment to slow, local food at full throttle, I felt it was time to invest in my own mandolin. Perhaps I didn’t do quite enough research before I seized the Bed, Bath and Beyond coupon moment. Or maybe I got what I paid for. All I know is my technique needs refinement. In other words, I still need to practice and my mandolin patience has again been tried.

My lack of precision is made up for with great enthusiasm and creative use of tiny vegetable fragments. I thought I was making sweet potato fries. Instead I got sweet potato threads. Never one to waste perfectly good organic local produce, I made up a new recipe. Shoestring sweet potato pie thingy. I took my very thinly julienned sweet potatoes (one very large potato) and mixed them with a clove of minced garlic, two eggs, some panko (Japanese bread crumbs), some cinnamon, salt and pepper. I olive oiled a ceramic 10″ pie plate, spread the sweet potato stuff evenly and topped it with sliced pears. I baked it at 350 for about 1/2 hour. Side dish or dessert? You decide. We ate it too quickly for a photo.