Monday, April 16, 2012

Three Years and Fried Potatoes

My brother and his fabulous lady friend recently went on a very strict diet. It might be described as a modified low-carb diet with emphasis on lean proteins, fruits and vegetables. I, personally, would describe it as starvation. Well, the diet did seem to have good results, and, a little envious of the dieters’ determination (they did this thing for 40 days!), I thought perhaps I should try something like that. But then I came to my senses. What, after all, would I be able to post to The Messy Apron if I was eating like that?

Today marks the beginning of the fourth year of this silly little project and I am forced to admit that I’m addicted. I base my grocery list on what I want to post. I get nervous if I haven’t tried a successful new recipe in a few days. The camera is never far from the sunny spot under the window in the living room where I take most of my shots (the kitchen windows don’t let in enough light most of the time.) I’m constantly thinking of what I’m going to write about each ingredient and recipe. This is the way I do things now. The Messy Apron is a lifestyle.

If I’m going to be honest with you, I have to say that this last year or so has not been good for me on a personal level. No matter how sad, lonely, worrisome or frustrating things get, however, I’m not the type to lose my appetite. In fact, I’m not even the type to lose interest in cooking or baking or trying new dishes or writing about them. Like Grandpa Vic always said, you gotta eat something, and I’ve been fortunate enough to always have something to eat, and to have the time, interest, and skill to make that something pretty good.

That doesn’t mean that everything has to be all fancy and trendy all the time. There is a time and place for something as humble (though delicious) as fried potatoes. In fact, there are many times and many places for fried potatoes. Last weekend in my kitchen, is just one of them. I partially cooked some russet potatoes in the microwave (leaving their skins on) the night before, then chopped them up and cooked them in butter in a cast iron pan the next morning. I love scallions with fried potatoes, so I added a finely chopped one, and I happened to have some leftover Easter ham that went in as well. Perfectly delicious, simple happiness without a lot of fuss. You can make these any time for any meal. I just happen to like them alongside an over-easy fried egg and toasted whole wheat bread.

Fried Potatoes with Scallions and Ham may not be part of a restrictive weight-loss diet, but they are part of The Messy Apron diet, which means they are something I made, photographed, and wrote about on these pages. Nothing profound, nothing extraordinary. After three years, I think it’s safe to say that such is how I do things, and I think we can all expect a lot more of the same in The Messy Apron’s year four. Happy birthday, you messy little blog. You’ve been a good friend to this hungry cook!

My newest imaginary friend, which I created in October, is a blog on the books I’m reading, The Distractible Reader. Drop by any time!

Fried Potatoes with Scallions and Ham
You could use any cooked potatoes for this recipe. I recommend cooking them by boiling or in the microwave (see below) with their skins on, then cooling them before cutting them to fry. They seem to hold together best when prepared this way.

You could add other things to these potatoes as well, such as bacon, cheese or bell peppers.

1 – 1 ½ pounds potatoes (or start with cooked potatoes)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ - ¾ teaspoon coarse salt, or to taste
1 scallion, finely chopped
about ½ cup diced, fully cooked ham
a few grinds fresh black pepper

1. (If starting with cooked potatoes, skip this step.) Pierce the skin of the potatoes all over with a sharp knife or fork. Place the potatoes in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high 3 minutes. Rearrange the potatoes in the bowl (Use an oven mitt or towel to handle them. They are very hot.) Microwave about 2 minutes more or until the flesh gives when squeezed. (Again, they are hot so use some protection for your hands.) Allow the potatoes to cool a few hours or overnight.

2. Chop the potatoes into about 1-inch cubes. Melt the butter in a cast iron pan over medium heat. Add the potatoes and salt. Cook the potatoes in the butter over medium heat until they are golden brown, stirring occasionally. (I like to use a spatula to get under them better.) This could take 20-30 minutes.

3. Stir in the scallion and cook until the scallion is well wilted. Stir in the ham and cook about 3 minutes more, or until the ham is heated through. Taste the potatoes for salt and add more if desired. Stir in the pepper.

Makes 3-4 servings.

Other recipes like this one: Grilled Potatoes with Lime-Herb Dipping Sauce, Red Flannel Hash with Spicy Mustard

See the sidebar to the right for a link to all of my favorite recipes from the month of April.

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