Sunday 7 December 2014

Staff Christmas Parties: Sweet Potato & Eggs with chili and seaweed dressing

I remember my first staff Christmas party. I was working in a local newspaper, 21 and bored out of my mind. It was my first job after I finished college. Throughout college, all I'd ever wanted was to get out of Ireland, travel somewhere warm, work on farms, swim in turquoise seas, talk about philosophy, learn to play the ukulele and have a great bunch of friends around me. All I ever wanted was a life the complete opposite to my own. When I took the job in the newspaper, I thought I would get to write about music and film, important happenings and save up to travel far away. It only took a few months to realize that as lovely as the people were, I was so far removed myself that each day I became progressively disconnected from everything that made me remotely who I am.

I remember that it was in a local hotel that I couldn't stand. The standard hotel Christmas dinner. I had panicked and bought a new dress and new shoes for the night, something that I never do. I'm thankful that I got to spend some quality time with my little sister as she showed me around and advised me on what to wear. In the end, I got kitten heels, sparkly ones that made me look like Bambi as I tried to walk in them. I looked grown up, sophisticated and lady-like. That was the idea, I thought: to look the part. In no way was I myself. I didn't even know what that meant.

The Christmas party last year was fantastic. A big gathering of all the teachers and staff from the school sitting at one long table. We ate, chatted, danced and though I was over the moon to be surrounded by brilliant people, I was so incredibly removed from myself. I don't remember who I sat next to or what I wore or what we ate. I don't remember laughing much. I just remember this deep-seated feeling of hoping that no-one knew how sad I actually was having been brutally heart broken only a few weeks beforehand.

This Christmas party couldn't have been more different. The same group of awesome people were there but this time I felt a part of it all. I sang my heart out and wasn't worried if people judged me. I danced my ass off and not for one minute thought I looked like an idiot. I chatted and listened away to so many amazing people and left, blissfully merry, at 6 am. The Grace that stumbled home this time last year is the antithesis to the one on Friday night.

Two things made all the difference. The first is that as much as I love Christmas, I was dreading it this year, worried that all the memories of being hurt, being single, being behind all my friends who are in great relationships, being alone, would come flooding back. What this time of year has taught me, though, is that things couldn't be better. The Christmas party this year just showed me once again that I am surrounded by a beautifully eclectic mix of crazy individuals who accept me and love me just the way I am. One such amazing and beautiful person told me how proud she was of me and my blog and how when I turned to food when I was heartbroken that I created something beautiful with my words, photographs and recipes. Words and experiences like that made me realize that the community and love and understanding of me being myself, wearing a colorful summer dress and flats that I kicked off so I could dance barefoot, is all around me. Living in Dublin and working where I do has instilled a love and respect for the present that I never could have imagined. I may be single this Christmas but that's ok because I'm surrounded by awesome people and couldn't be luckier. When I do meet a nice guy, a really sound, funny, caring guy, I can't wait to introduce him to these great people and to this new side of me that was buried under the worry and sarcasm all along, the side of me that is in love with life and isn't afraid to by myself.

In celebration of staff Christmas parties and being single and free to spend all morning making a brunch just for me, I give you sweet potato cakes with seaweed and chili dressing. Having given up on wheat and bread, I miss tucking into eggs on toast. This is even better than toast. Sweet potato is a major love of mine. I could eat it everyday and be blissfully happy forever. Crispy, toasty, warm potato slices that go amazingly well with eggs, this recipe is simply the best. This is such an easy recipe and serves 1 easily but can be changed for as many people as you need to cater for. I always imagine it would be the perfect hangover cure for a bunch of friends after a house party. Maybe another time.

1 large sweet potato
2 eggs
2 tbs coconut oil
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1 tbs dried seaweed mix
2-3 tsp natural yogurt

Preheat oven to 190°C. Wash the sweet potato and slice into thick circles. Rub the coconut oil on both sides and place on oven tray. Dust with the turmeric and bake in the oven for 30mins or more until cooked through and golden. Check after 15 mins and turn over to make both sides crispy. When the sweet potato is cooked through, turn down the heat to keep warm and melt the other tbs of coconut oil in a frying pan. Fry the eggs until cooked through but leave the egg yolk runny. Boil the kettle and add the seaweed to a mug of boiled water to rehydrate.

To plate up, place three large rings of sweet potato on the plate. Top with eggs. Add three of four dollops of yoghurt on the edge of the plate. Dust with chili flakes and seaweed and season well with salt and pepper.


1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful story Grace! I'm so glad you're celebrating with a REAL smile!