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Baking: Sweet Potato Crescent Rolls

February 23, 2011

Last week I made Sweet Potato Crescent Rolls from my favorite cookbook, Simply in Season.

First of all, I love this cookbook. The book was, in it’s own words, “Commissioned…to promote the understanding of how the food choices we make affect our lives and the lives of those who produce the food.” It contains simple, affordable and great tasting recipes that put to use in-season ingredients. Almost every page contains a short letter, written to the editors, sharing thoughts and stories about food and our connection to it. I catch myself, on a regular basis, reading all of these snippets instead of focusing on the dinner I’m in the midst of preparing.

Ben and I feel very strongly about supporting organic agriculture, local producers and fairly traded products for myriad reasons,  and we’ve shifted our budget so we can spend more on groceries, but I can’t help but feel a little snobbish every time I walk through the front door of Whole Foods. “Who am I to buy organic food at a higher cost when there are people who can’t even afford to eat?” All that being said, last week as I was making Maple Parsnip Soup (first time for parnips!), the letter beneath the recipe caught my eye:

People in our [the Mennonite churches have learned so well how to save a nickel here and a dime there, and I think part of the intention has been that those nickels and dimes are being saved in order to give more to people in need.

I encourage people to think when you buy fairly traded foods, you’re putting that money directly into the pockets of those people in need, rather than through the offering plate. – Karin Kaufman Wall

It was such a great encouragement to read that and reinforced why we choose to spend more- it makes me happy on the days that my pocketbook reflects my values- or rather, when I put my money where my mouth is.

So, after that long-winded intro, these Sweet Potato Crescent Rolls were indeed very good. We’ve taken to calling them Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls, since they use a lot of similar spices. I made some vanilla glaze to drizzle on top, and next time I’m going to make proper frosting- I think it will make them delectable. I also think it’s really fun that something as healthy as sweet potatoes can sneak their way into something as yummy as a cinnamon roll.

Anecdote: While kneading the dough, I was daydreaming about how fun it is to ‘connect’ with my ancestors in doing things by hand when I accidentally scorched (read: set on fire!) my great-grandmother’s tea towel. Seriously folks- if I can make homemade bread, you certainly can too.

Are there ways that you creatively spend/budget/don’t spend money in order to sustain others/the environment/yourself? Do you have any great recipes or ideas for in-season cooking in the winter? Have you ever set a kitchen towel on fire? Please share!

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