Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Experiments lead to Flashbacks. No LSD, just potato.

While cooking today, a strong food memory pounced on me. As an experiment, instead of boiling peeled potatoes, I baked them whole for 2 and half hours, then split them while hot to let out steam before discarding the skins and sending the flesh through the food mill. The smell of the steam coming out of the over-baked potatoes sent me back....

It was in the kitchen of the house I grew up on Staten Island. My mom was making some sort of chicken or lamb chop, along with mashed potatoes. This evening was a little unusual, because my mom had a friend over from work, it was her assistant or secretary, maybe one and the same. My brother was there, too. For some reason, I told my mom that I wanted baked potatoes, not mashed potatoes. I didn't have some big preference for one or the other, but for some reason I insisted that THAT was what I wanted. She took one of the potatoes she planned to peel, boil, and mash...and placed it in the oven instead. Two hours later, at the table, I cut my baked potato in half and a fragrant poof of potato steam came out of the spud, giving a wonderful scent all over the kitchen. Mom's friend said, "That's the potato yeast", and I could see her staring hungrily at my potato. Knowing what Mom's mashed potatoes tasted like -- lumpy, too salty -- I think it's safe to say that I enjoyed my potato dish the most! I was not picky when it came to food and special meals, but I guess that getting my mom to bend to my will (in front of one of her professional friends) was some how exciting.

Back to today's prep for tomorrow's cooking session: Potato, sweet potato, cabbage, kasha, spinach, and broccoli cheddar. Dough needs to rest upwards of a day. Baked 5lbs of potato, caramelized 5 lbs of chopped onion. Found I didn't have enough potato, though today's CSA visit produced a bunch more.
Cooked up a cup of kasha, added the sauteed onion as well as garlicky sauteed mushroom. Sauteed 1/4 of a cabbage with a little vinegar, salt, and sugar.

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