Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tax Time and Sweet Potato Fries

I rummaged through a dozen or so messy files today, pulling out crumpled slips of paper, bills, statements, invoices and receipts from the past year. It’s tax time. That means I’ve got to reckon with the hundreds of itty bitty bits of paper I’ve shoved into files during the past year, some labelled, others that I never bothered putting headings on. I obviously didn’t think today would ever come.

Like every other year, I’m supposed to bring some order with this stuff. It doesn’t come naturally. Making organized piles and tabulating numbers to slot into predetermined categories related to my life as a freelancer is a bitch. My mind would rather design a mud hut or invent a new recipe for corn pone than figure out what to do with all this detritous.

My brain wasn’t made for filing out tax forms.  I don’t even like sitting in the same room as an accountant, and that poses a problem as well. Revenue Canada won’t be taking either factor into consideration when April 30 comes around.

I’ve been miserable all day, dreading the meeting I’ve made tomorrow with a C.A., knowing full well he'll be telling me that I'm missing some important papers, didn’t do my additions correctly and should be able to tell him what my investments’ gain/loss ratio was for the past year. Huh? Doesn’t it say on one of those itty bitty slips? 

I had great fortune for a brief moment today, however, as I browsed through my files. In the middle of one marked “Tax Receipts 2010,” I ran across something that should have more appropriately been filed in “Favourite Recipes 1998.”

How it got into Taxes 2010 is a mystery. As I said, I’m not good at filing. Finding an article I had written many years ago for The Globe and Mail when it still had a “Food” section is living proof of my organizational challenges. Nevertheless, even I’m surprised at how far afield this article found itself.

Aren’t I lucky it did. Unfortunately, the article’s date has been torn off the page, so I’m not quite sure when I wrote this little piece, so cleverly titled “There’s Something About Breakfasts.”

It’s a sweet little article. I must have written it sometime in the late 1990s,  but it has the surprising ring of something written in the early 1950s. I think, perhaps, it’s a little too sweet. My editor at the time obviously didn’t think so, who am I to judge. Nevertheless, I ‘m not completely sure it passes the test of time.

Never mind. It’s WAY more interesting than the Rev Can Tax Form or my T4s will ever be. Perhaps they should get me to rewrite them. Hmmm. Perhaps…'There’s Something About Filing Your Income Tax Return On Time.' Catchy, isn't it?

Here’s the first paragraph from ‘Breakfasts’:

“There’s something special about breakfasts. They warm your innards; brighten your day; stick to your ribs; give you that get up and go. Sure we’ve become a little sophisticated lately and learned to love Cajun brunches, three-cheese omelets and Bloody Caesar starters, but really, is there anything else that quite warms our hears the way hot blueberry muffins do, popped fresh from the oven?  Or crispy sweet potato hash browns flecked with bits of onions; pots of homemade jams or perfectly browned French toast that you drown in pure maple syrup?”

Yo! Bring them on!

This intro is followed by recipes for the muffins, hash browns and Banana Bread French Toast, all sounding mightily good. Unfortunately, the article was torn in half and the French Toast portion is MIA. All I’ve got are the recipes for the muffins and hash browns.

Quite honestly, I don’t remember ever making either recipe, but I can presume I did. I’d hate to give the impression that recipe writers don’t actually make the things they tell YOU to, but I know for a fact that it’s sometime the case. Yes, Virginia, it’s true. Now be quiet, go to your room and I’ll make you blueberry muffins in the morning if you’re good.

I’ll leave you (and all thoughts about my taxes) with the sweet potato hash brown recipe. My intro to it says:  “This recipe comes from Bonducci’s Restaurant in Northampton, Massachusetts, famed for its breakfasts.”

The recipe sounds great, but I can’t guarantee it. I’ve never been in Northampton, Massachusetts as far as I can recall.

Sweet Potato Hash Browns

3 sweet potatoes, peeled
2 chopped onions
6 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 cloves garlic, minced
white pepper

Coarsely chop sweet potatoes into bite-size pieces, not too small. Mix with onions in large bowl. Melt butter, add garlic. Pour over sweet potato mixture and toss until all potatoes and onions are well-coated. You may need to melt more butter if potatoes are large.

Spread mixture on a cookie sheet in a single layer if possible. Sprinkle with salt and white pepper. Bake in 500F oven until brown and crisp, between 30-40 minutes.

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