We celebrated the start of winter with a swim at the beach. Such is the life when living in the sub-tropics! We spent the weekend before last out at Stradbroke Island. Stradbroke is barely an hour from Brisbane but the act of getting on a ferry and leaving the car behind on the mainland amps the sense of distance. Along with some friends, we hired a house halfway up a hill with a view of the ocean and lazed away three days walking barefoot on the sand, swimming in the salty sea, pushing W on the swings, cooking and eating and talking.
The lovely thing about going away on holiday is the break from the pace and routines of the everyday. The slowing down. With two small people and work and life, things are pretty busy for S and I these days. Little T has just started teething, and his favourite place to sleep is in my (or S’s) arms. At home I use the kids’ nap times to do stuff – cook, work, write, yoga. But out at Stradbroke Island I let T nap in my arms to his heart’s content. And the smell of his little head and the twitch of his little lips warmed my soul.
Something else that was totally soul-invigorating? Beach swimming. Every time. But this one was particularly so. The weather was warm but far from hot, so the swim was refreshing but also bracing. The sea felt extra salty, leaving traces in my hair and on my skin. I hadn’t remembered to pack bathers, so I swam in a bra and undies. Afterwards, my clothes back on but my skin still sandy, I felt tingly and warm, from the inside out.
It’s one of life’s quirks, I suppose, that the saltier the ocean swimming, the bigger the craving for salty oily fish ‘n’ chips afterwards. Although I usually tend to avoid meat, I do I love fish ‘n’ chips. Even more so when eaten with the sound of the waves in the background. The friends we stayed with out on Stradbroke knew who to get the best fresh fish from on the Island, so on that Saturday night we cooked up a feast of grilled prawns, fresh salads, crusted mackerel, and baked potatoes.
With the ocean still running through my veins, I was in the mood for salty chips when I got home. So I embraced the onset of winter veges to cook one of my favourite things – baked homemade fries. Having had my fill of potatoes, I used parsnips (which I adore) and purple-skinned sweet potato (which everyone adores) to throw together this easy bowl of baked fries to snack on.
You’ll notice that the recipe below doesn’t include any weights or quantities. Because you really don’t need them. This recipe couldn’t be easier – just make how ever much you need to feed however many people are staying for dinner. And then make a little extra, coz these fries are all kinds of more-ish.
Parsnip & Sweet Potato Fries
Extra-virgin olive oil
Cracked black pepper
Fresh thyme leaves
Preheat oven to 200° celsius/400° fahrenheit.
Clean parsnips and sweet potato, and slice into thin strips. Toss the strips together in a bowl with a generous glug of olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a grind or two of black pepper. Spread in a single layer on a baking tray and bake for 15 – 30 minutes (depending on size of strips) or until golden brown, flipping halfway through.
Sprinkle generously with thyme leaves, and extra salt & pepper to taste.
Notes: if you prefer your fries on the crispier/almost burnt side (like I do) then leave them in until they are a deep golden brown. And when laying the fries on the baking tray make sure to leave a bit of space around each slice – if they are overcrowded they will steam rather than bake, and then come out soggy.