[Update! Congratulations to Rachel Q, winner of the giveaway!]

Oven Fries with Lemon Green Dressing + Gryere | FoodLovesWriting.com

A long time ago, I heard a superstition that says the activities in which you partake on New Year’s Day set the tone for the way your coming year will go: Spend money, and it will be a year of loss. Receive money, and it will be a year of gain. Work, and you’ll be industrious. Play, and you’ll be full of fun. Eat something green, so the tradition goes, and you can expect the luck of more green (of the financial kind) to find its way to you in the months ahead. So it’s with that old superstition in mind that we bring you today’s cheesy oven fries, kicked up a notch with lemony green dressing, salty and addicting and very green—even though, between us, it’s not exactly money that we’re hoping to find more of in 2013.

(Warning: extremely long post to follow.)

The truth is, as sweet and celebratory and blessed as our December has been, it’s also been heavy. Heavy because of big things all of you know about, like tragedy that makes us weep and mourn, for parents without children and for children exposed to unfathomable hate. Heavy because of small things, like people who stand you up or who put others down when they talk or who are never curious about anyone, ever. I’ve read nasty articles about food blogging and felt weary with people who don’t seek to understand. I’ve listened to a restaurant hostess reprimand a patron for not going to the proper place with his bill. I’ve tried to be friends with someone and gotten silence in response. I’ve talked with women who use cooking as a measuring stick for how valuable each of us can believe herself to be. I’ve grieved, both as I’ve been hurt and as I’ve hurt someone else, hearing myself say sharp things, over and over again, my mouth more a sword than a comfort, and I’ve come face to face with the ugliness of my own heart. I’ve asked God hard questions. I’ve wept.

I wrote in an earlier post that sometimes I am overwhelmed by the evil in this world, and it’s true. There was an afternoon last week when I sat with Tim on my childhood bed, crying and wishing I weren’t someone who cries so easily, who is so “sensitive” as some would say. And that man I’m married to looked back at me, next to our Tennessee suitcases and window of falling Chicago snow, and reminded me of the character of the One I ask hard questions of, the One who is Great Compassion, who loves those who do not love Him, who was despised and rejected, a Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief. I keep thinking about that and about what it means to taste sorrow, to bear burdens, to feel pain instead of steeling yourself against it.

In other words, I think, I keep thinking about what it means to give real kindness and what it means to love.

And that is what I’m hungry for, more than food and more than green, in 2013—for genuine compassion and kindness and love to come out of my heart, for me to see it around me, for our world to taste it in small ways and big. I’ve thought a lot about food blogging this last month. I’ve thought about how it’s been, to me, much more than recipes and photos and links and products to give away. You who read here give friendship so freely. You who write blogs of your own, with your weeknight dinners and Christmas recipes, demonstrate every day how much art there is in all of us. And when I write here about our life and what we’re eating in it, it’s never about ingredients as much as it’s about the everyday gifts and struggles those ingredients surround.

My friend Sarah has designed some beautiful, framable wall calendars for this coming year, which feature the Mother Theresa quote “Do Small Things with Great Love,” and it’s a quote that’s been ringing in my ears throughout the last several weeks. Small things with great love. Little mitvahs to counteract the ugly and evil all around us.

Small things like paying attention when someone is talking. Jotting a note. Telling a friend you are thankful for her. Making snowflakes.

Small things like letting someone cut you off. Sharing your home. Praying for the one who despises you. Not talking about the person who has given you every reason to be angry.

Small things like running a little blog where you call out beauty. Reading other blogs that do it, too. Giving thanks for the joy and magic of cooking. Putting your hands together to build a meal and rejoicing in it as you do.

Making Fries

As we look back at 2012 and ahead to 2013, we want you to know how grateful we are for you and the beauty you add to our lives. Thank you for reading here and thank you for enriching our everyday.

We want to give you something in return:

Today through Saturday, our ebook will be free on Amazon—and to one of you who downloads it (previous downloads are also fully eligible), Sarah will give a copy of her “small things with great love” calendar (available in either black or white). Go to Amazon to download the book; then simply email us at shannalee@foodloveswriting.com to say you’ve picked it up, and you’ll be entered in the giveaway. We’ll announce the winner over the weekend.

Oven Fries with Lemony Green Dressing + Gruyere
Serves 4 to 6 as a snack

Like our version of Joanna Linberg’s cajun sweet potato fries, we cut these into matchsticks, which helps them crisp up nicely. While we added an Italian spice blend, you might pick different herbs or spices you prefer; everything can be adjusted to taste.

4 baking potatoes
2 or 3 tablespoons of coconut oil
Italian herb blend*
4 to 5 cloves of garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
Lemon Green Dressing
Gruyere, shredded

Preheat oven to 425F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Slice baking potatoes into matchsticks and place in a large bowl. Melt coconut oil (I put it in a glass measuring cup and stuck it in the oven a few minutes) and add minced garlic. Toss potato matchsticks with garlic-oil mixture, salt and pepper and herbs. *We used a couple hefty dashes of this and basically kept adding more until the matchsticks looked good to us.

Spread the matchsticks onto the two parchment-lined baking sheets and bake for 35 minutes or until golden, rotating sheets halfway through. Fries are done when they look crisp and golden.

Top with lemony green dressing and shredded gruyere (as much as you like).

Lemony Green Dressing
2 cups supergreens (or other greens)
1/2 cup olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
salt to taste

Combine ingredients in a blender or Vitamix and adjust proportions to taste.

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 33 Comments

  1. Nicole

    I so feel you on wishing I wasn’t as sensitive. I used to think of my emotion as a flaw, but it can be a strength, too, as it enables us to be more compassionate and understanding if we embrace it that way. Much easier said than done, though. (Sometimes instead of embracing it, I simply put a wall up to avoid the swell, which is probably a bad habit.) Cheers to the goodness of 2013!

  2. sarah kate branine

    (I’m sorry if this comment posts twice– I’m having internet connection trouble!) Thank you for doing this. Thank you for writing these thoughts and thank you so much for your friendship this year. I am so thankful for God intersecting our paths and I look forward to being friends in 2013. Happy New Year to you and Tim!

  3. jacquie

    thank you for such a lovely and thoughtful post. i hope your coming year is filled with compassion and kindness. if i strive to do anything in the new year it will be notice the “little” things more since they really aren’t little are they? and perhaps by being mindful of them and acknowledging a more graceful life can be lived. and from that perhaps comes the ability to be more mindful of others and extend to them the compassion and kindness they need.

    i wish i had a kindle so i could download the book but alas i do not.

    take care of yourselfs and have blessed new year.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Jacquie, If it makes any difference, you can get Kindle on your computer if you like, even without a handheld device. Just Google Kindle Mac or Kindle Windows. I actually have a couple ebooks on my laptop. : )

  4. em

    thank you for sharing your book with us — and these lovely thoughts. heading off to do my own little mitzvahs now. :)

  5. Shereen

    Beautifully written! What you said reminded me of this quote that I love from the Baha’i writings, “When a thought of war comes, oppose it with a stronger thought of peace. A thought of hatred must be destroyed by a more powerful thought of love.”

  6. Jennifer

    Off topic, but I wanted to say I am using coconut oil because of your blog and share my discovery that using a grapefruit spoon is a great way to get the solid oil out of the jar.

  7. Paula @ Vintage Kitchen

    These past months I came to the conclusion that what I want is to be able to be more generous, wishing it to be more a part of my personality. I believe it will in turn, bring me everything I want in my life, because I will be the life I want. And I´m not being altruistic here. It all comes down to the way we love every single thing or person that crosses our path every day. There are so many ways to give love.
    This is a wonderful post to start the year Shanna! May it bring many good things to you both!

  8. Shanna Mallon

    I am so appreciating all of your comments, even if my immediate response is something of a nodding head and YES, without much else to say. Each of you who have responded here, thank you for your thoughtful words!

  9. Felicia @ Dish by Dish

    Shanna, your posts always abound with so much humility & yearning to be a better person – a total inspiration for all who read. Enjoy 2013 with brilliance, love & abundance!

    Love from Buenos Aires,

    1. Shanna Mallon

      You are (always) too kind. Thank you, Felicia!

  10. Kathryn

    I love the idea of doing small things with love. Sometimes the big & extravagant gestures can be easy; it’s the every day acts of kindness that are all too easy to forget about or lose in the busyness of life. Happy new year Shanna; I wish you and Tim all the happiness that you deserve.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      That is so true what you wrote about the simple things being easiest to forget! I am seeing that more and more!

  11. Madison Mayberry

    Man did this post make me feel convicted and encouraged. I feel like more often than not, I go through life slightly on the defensive at all times. Like I need to have it all together and please everyone as I go through my day-to-day. Your open heart and willingness to share is so refreshing, Shanna. I hope to be more open and giving of my true self in the year to come.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      I know exactly what you mean about having a natural defense up. I mean, I know EXACTLY what you mean. Thanks for your kind words, Madison, and, you know, I read your “new year’s” blog post and thought that one of the things I’m thankful for in 2012 is getting to know you.

  12. Vicki

    What a great post to kick off the new year!! Social media tends to take a backseat during the holidays so I caught up on your blog posts today. I am very excited to hear that there is now a print version of your book!! Even though I prepared myself to read it online, I might cave and get the print version instead. :)

    1. Shanna Mallon

      haha, thanks, Vicki! More print copies will be available soon!

  13. Megan

    These fries look amazing. I can’t wait to make them! And I am so excited to read your book, what a beautiful gift!

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  15. Anne Zimmerman

    Happy New Year! Our NYE was spontaneous and fun, filled with family and new friends, stories and laughter and love and good food and music. It makes me very pleased that this might be a harbinger of a 2013 filled with the same.

  16. Dana

    From one crier to another: don’t let the heavies get you down.

  17. Kristen

    “And that is what I’m hungry for, more than food and more than green, in 2013—for genuine compassion and kindness and love to come out of my heart, for me to see it around me, for our world to taste it in small ways and big. ” This… yes. Me too.

  18. Brooke @ Food Woolf

    Wow. What writing. What vulnerability. Thank you so much for opening your heart and showing us your honesty. You’re really incredible! Thank you so much for being so genuine and for being the light you want to see in the world. You’re making the world a better place already! xoxoxo

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Really, Brooke, thank you because your post on giving mitzvahs encouraged me so much.

  19. Cindy @ My Bella Vida

    Your words are gifts from God to my eyes and ears. This post is so magical. Thank you for allowing me to feel what you feel.

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  21. Frannie

    Such a lovely post! Thank you! I had just pinned a quote on my bulletin board that echoes your thoughts…by John Burroughs… ” A small deed is better than the greatest intention”. The fries look so good…I can’t wait to try them! Happy New Year!

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  24. DessertForTwo

    I was just referred over by Madison of Espresso & Cream. I’m so happy to find this.

    Your words hit a true cord with me. I need to pray for someone who despises me, because I can see the pain they’re in. Instead, I’ve been stocking ammunition against them and delighting in their failures. It stops now.

    Also, in terms of cooking; I’ve been feeling extra grateful lately that the Lord gave me the passion to cook. I know many people who think cooking is a chore and despise it. I’m grateful cooking meals brings me happiness because it makes me healthy.

    New fan,

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Thank you for that comment, Christina (and Madison is a real treasure!) — I relate to much of what you wrote, but what I appreciate most is how you pushed my thoughts toward gratitude for something as simple as finding job in cooking. Well said.

  25. mattie

    I had this saved to read, wish I had done so earlier! Thank you for this. Indeed this is a blog worth taking time to read, despite the clamoring of the urgent that threatens to crowd out reflecting on the One who has no variation or shadow or turning. Thanks for doing that out loud. What a pleasing fragrance :)

    1. Shanna Mallon

      No shadow of turning. I love that.

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