I Never Met a Potato I didn’t like…

And my hips are a testament to that fact.  Who doesn’t love a good carbohydrate?  Dr. Atkins?

Meat and potatoes – you just thought of a baked potato didn’t you!  I know I did, one covered in sour cream, butter, bacon bits and if I’m in a seafood restaurant a dollop of cocktail sauce to add some spice.  If you didn’t think of a baked potato your probably just pictured the mashed potatoes you had at Thanksgiving.  Were they smooth as silk or just lumpy enough that you know the potatoes were homemade.  Either way there was butter or probably gravy pored over.

Oh the good times!  But around these parts of Georgia when you go into a, shall I say moderately priced, restaurant you’ll get hash browns.  Waffle House with its scattered, smothered and covered is still the best.  I’ve tried those hash browns pretty much every way Waffle House serves them except “all the way”.  All the Way is just what it says with cheese, onions, jalapenos, tomatoes, mushrooms, whatever else you can talk the cook into adding plus chili and yes, even sausage gravy.  You have to be pretty hung over to eat that or on some mind altering drug.  If you’re a bit more rational try the hash browns in the ring, cooked well with a crispy outside and a warm soft middle.  Heaven on earth.

For those, like me, with impaired culinary taste ask for the hash browns scattered – WELL.  If you have the right person on the grill you’ll get a very large potato chip.

As much as I love Waffle House hash browns, along with McDonald’s deep fried ones plus Chik-Fil-A’s contribution to my widening waistline there’s something missing in this list.  If you’re thinking French fries you’d be wrong.  French fries have a special place in my heart but that’s not what is missing.  I can get them anywhere and anytime.

On a recent trip to Florida we once again ate breakfast at Fat Boy’s in Kissimmee. That’s what is missing from my rural Georgia potato feast…Home Fries.  OMG – home fries.  Potatoes, probably boiled to soften, then cut in chunks and spread on the grill to finish cooking and browned to perfection.  Home fries, if we had any potatoes left from Thanksgiving I’d be in the kitchen boiling them right now. Or if it wasn’t such a miserable rainy day I’d seriously consider driving south to Florida or west to Iowa for a serious home fries feast.

Since there don’t seem to be any potatoes left, not a surprise, guess I’ll have a salad for lunch and whine.

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To market, to market, for Thanksgiving I go

Being organized I have been shopping for our Thanksgiving meal today, a week before the day.  Made a list. Bought everything on the list.  That means there will be only 1 maybe 2 emergency more trips to Kroger to pick up something important that I forgot.

Here’s the menu – for Thanksgiving 2011 we’re going with a family favorites theme.  “Family favorites” is code for “starch and fats.”

Appetizers – deviled eggs and homemade Chex mix

Dinner:

Turkey – actually turkey is optional for our family. After ripping off and devouring the brown crispy skin no one really eats the meat on Thursday. But come Friday – cold slabs of turkey on toasted bread with plenty of mayo.

Cranberry sauce – didn’t even buy it this year.  There’s only one person in the family who eats it and he only dollops one tablespoon on his turkey – that one spoonful lasts through all his 2nd and 3rd servings.

Dressing – this year I upgraded from Stove Top stuffing to Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix…will the culinary creativity excitement every end.

Mashed potatoes – a necessity – know why we have such smooth ones?  We use instant. ..Add gravy and the spud folks are happy.

Rice – if you’re from South Carolina you expect rice at every meal – around here you’re usually disappointed.

Rolls – they’ll disappear first

Green bean casserole – I know I caved. We are having one veggie but it since it’s covered with high caloric fat ingredients I think I’m still  staying with the l “family favorites” theme.

Humm – what am I missing?  Dessert – that’s it

Orange cookies

Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting – grandchild is making this so it’s from a box, not homemade, so sad, but to compensate for that there will be a homemade Caramel Apple Pie (new recipe – even making the caramel from scratch).  This will either be the star of the meal or the disaster we laugh about for years.

Having written this I know what the first trip back to town will be for – You’re right – Wine!


I Pita the Fool

Once the darling of the foodie elite, pita bread seems to have almost dropped out of sight.  It’s been overshadowed by its carbohydrate cousins focaccia, panini and the forever popular bagel.

Years ago I decided pita must be an easy bread to make.  After all as soon as women discovered hot rocks to cook on pita was probably one of the first things they created.  The men could easily carry left overs in a pita in one hand while spearing the elusive wooly mammoth with their now free spear arm.  I’m guessing Panini presses were in short supply.

My flawed reasoning was that if someone in a desert without electricity, city water and even a cookbook could master this basic bread so could I.  It took almost 30 years for me to bake a pita that actually puffed up and could hold food. Admittedly I only tried every decade or so.  One failure and I’m back to my old friend, never fail, beer bread but that’s another blog – cooking from the liquor cabinet.

I was going to include a pita recipe but every single one I found started out something like “Pita, the best bread for making with kids.  So easy it should be the first bread a beginner baker makes.”

Heavy Sigh…Makes my decades of failure seem even worse than I thought.  When I did succeed it was because I bought a pizza stone.  Apparently my first thought was correct: the cave women had it right, you need a hot stone to make pita bread.

So now that I have mastered pita I have one last question:   whatever happened to bean sprouts?


Lime life-a Key Lime sort of day

The quintessential South Florida recipe:  Key Lime Pie.  You can find it in almost every restaurant: yellow, green, dense custard, whipped frothy, and covered with a sliver of lime, meringue or lots of whipped cream.  Everyone claims to have the ultimate, the original, the best key lime pie ever made.  In fact at least 1,720,000 people do; that’s how many showed up on a recent internet search for key lime pie recipes…but they are wrong, yes all 1,720,000 of them. I have the best and easiest key lime recipe.  My mother claims it is the original and she should know, after all she grew up in Iowa.

If asked most people would tell you that key limes come from–well Key West–but that’s not exactly true.  Of course most people will tell you that Key limes are green; they’re not.  Think yellow skins and tiny.  Turns out most people are usually wrong most of the time; at least when limes are being discussed.

The key lime tree has been part of the life in Florida since around 1500.  That’s a long time to me but it means limes were just tourists that settled in for the long haul. Go East, or West; either way you’ll get to India where limes first grew.

But enough history – here’s Key Lime pie for the non-gourmet who just wants a simple easy to make dessert.

1 graham cracker crust

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1/3 cup Key lime juice  (or if you can’t easily find it – substitute regular lime juice or even lemon juice)

Stir milk and lime juice – pour in pie crust.  Chill. Hide in closet with pie so family and neighbors won’t know what you have.  Eat – ignore the number of calories in sweetened condensed milk.  Life is too short – enjoy it while you can.


Food – can’t live it, can’t live without it

My history with food is not great.  If I declare a food the best thing ever eaten you can bet it will disappear off the restaurant’s menu within 6 months.  Apparently I don’t have the taste buds of the everyday diner.  So this blog won’t be about great meals I have eaten but about my random thoughts on food in general and people who love food.