Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Potato

I was talking with a friend recently and we were reminiscing about a different time in our lives. As children of depression era parents, we grew up eating "in season". At that time the outer suburbs had many family farms (not housing developments) and I can still remember the farmers bringing their trucks full of produce to the West Side Market before the sun rose. Everyone in our community had a kitchen garden, and what we didn't grow could be purchased from the numerous farm stands just outside the city limits. Fruit trees grew in abundance in my neighborhood, we children would spend the summer climbing in and out of trees loaded down with apples, pears, peaches, cherries and plums. Berry bushes seemed to grow wild, and our hands and mouths would be stained with their sweet, purple juices.

Returning to a sustainable way of life did not take a lot of effort on my part, I simply returned to my roots. There were seven people living in our small 1,000 sq. foot home, yet there was only one trash can on the curb on pick up day. Everything was recycled, reused and re-purposed. Kitchen scraps went into the compost pile or worm bin, clothing was mended, or when no longer mendable, torn into strips and made into rag rugs or cleaning rags. Waste not want not was not just a phrase in our household, but a way of life.

Which brings me (finally) to the "potato". Potatoes were a staple in our winter diet, stored in baskets and boxes in the root cellar, they were served at just about every meal. So when we speak of comfort foods, I would have to put the potato near the top of my list. Baked, roasted, fried, I could eat potatoes every day. The following recipe is simple, and the aroma while baking will have your mouth watering.

Roadhouse Potatoes

4 medium potatoes, unpeeled and grated
1 1/2 cups whole milk or half-n-half
1/4 cup butter
Salt & Pepper, to taste
1/4 to 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat milk (cream) and butter. Add salt and pepper. Place the potatoes in a lightly greased baking dish (2 quart). Pour milk mixture over top. Add the Parmesan cheese over top. Sprinkle lightly with dried parsley.

Bake in a pre-heated 325 degree oven 1 hour or until golden brown.

To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else ~ Emily Dickinson


Lori Lynn said...

The potato dish does sound comforting.

I am impressed about your household only having one trash can each week. What great lessons for your children in all that entailed.

Paula said...

Oh my gosh, I was just thinking to myself that I wanted to make something with shredded potatoes, but didn't want fried hash browns. Perfect timing! And, this recipe is genious! I know I'm going to like the creamy interior and the crunchy top. YUM! Also, you could have been describing my childhood in your opening paragraphs! I love stories like these.

OhioMom said...

Thanks Lori, actually that was my parent's household. In ours we practiced recycling, and my grown children continued this good habit.

Thanks Paula, these really are a good alternative to fried hash browns.

Priscilla said...

this looks so yummy, i love any kind of potatoes!

shambo said...

This looks so good. I'm another one who could eat potatoes just about every day. This looks easy to make too. A perfect dish!

perennialgardener said...

Wow that looks great Mom, I will have to try this one. David loves potatoes and was drooling over the pictures. lol :)

Theresa said...

Linda, my parents were immigrants from Italy. They didn't have much and raised 6 children to say the least. And in our family, we were brought up the same way. Waste not. Your potatoes look delish.

giz said...

Your intro does indeed sound like my parents' home - 6 of us in about 1000 sq ft. Who knew anything about having your own bedroom or a second bathroom. Waste??? Are you kidding me. We were raised the children of holocaust survivors - waste was not a word we could ever relate to and to this day my siblings and I still laugh that we completely finish everything on our plates.

OhioMom said...

Thanks Priscilla .. me too :)

Sue, I love potatoes and with cheese, what can I say but yum :)

Racquel .. then you definitely must make my grandson these taters :)

Theresa .. nope no waste, but with these potatoes you won't have any :)

Giz .. rofl, I shared a bed with two sisters, there was no such thing as private space .. and yes finish everything on your plate was mama's mantra!

Grace said...

i love your title--two words, enough said. :)
i also love the simplicity and comforting effects of your dish. lovely. :)

OhioMom said...

Thank you Grace :)

MrBrownThumb said...

Remember when I commented that I was a bread lover? Well, I'm a potato lover as well. I have some potatoes I need to use tonight that I'm going to prepare like this.

OhioMom said...


Good to see (read) you :) I hope you enjoy them.