Remember that last post about summer? And I asked if we were there yet?
Ha. We are far, far from it.
Here is the nice thing about blizzards: Being inside. Especially when inside involves a fat brown cat, a fireplace, movies checked out from the library, and hash browns.
I've been making these hash browns a lot lately, without any real thinking -- just grabbing the ingredients, eyeballing measurements, telling doneness by the texture of the potatoes and the sizzle of the pan. I've been needing this. Not just the hash browns, but the whole process of making food from the senses, without following any directions. Because honestly, I'm getting sick of recipes.
Sometimes they just get in the way, I think. Making long grocery lists every week. Having to stop what I'm doing every few minutes to double-check measurements. Dirtying up way too many cups and spoons. Burning the onions because I spent too much time reading the next step. I started following recipes more closely when I got into counting calories and losing weight for various reasons (a trip to Mexico, a wedding or two, my own self-esteem). And now, two pants sizes smaller, and I'm tired of reading recipes. I'm ready to start cooking again, my way.
And it started with hash browns, which we've been eating around here for breakfast and for dinner. With eggs and with sandwiches. On Sunday mornings and on snowy weeknights. While other recipes are tried once and tossed, these hash browns are made over and over again, using nothing but sight, smell, touch, and feel. And taste, of course.
No Recipe Hash Browns
I will, of course, continue to follow recipes, because I'm really not cool enough to make up all of my own dishes. But a recipe should be more of a guide, to be adapted to the cook's tastes and instincts. Below is not a real recipe. It's just how I cook hash browns.
potatoes, whatever kind I have, as many as I can eat
green pepper, or red pepper, or no pepper
garlic, lots of it
olive oil and butter, or just butter
Chop up those potatoes in equal size pieces. Drizzle olive oil in a hot pan over medium heat, and add the butter. Toss in the potatoes, spread into a single layer, and don't touch them for five minutes. They'll start to sizzle and whistle and brown in the pan.
While I'm waiting, I chop up some onions and peppers.
Give the potatoes a good toss, then spread in a single layer again. Don't touch for five minutes. Add salt and pepper. Maybe even some seasoned salt.
While I'm waiting, I'll smash and mince the garlic. I use a lot -- about 4 big cloves. I love garlic.
Toss the potatoes again. They should be getting pretty brown. This is when I like to push them to one side of the pan, add my onions and peppers and garlic to the other side, let everything cook for a minute or two, then toss and let it all get good and brown for five minutes or so.
I know it's done when I pluck a potato (or two or three) from the pan with a wooden spoon, place it in my mouth , and it's just how I like it.