My dear friend Mara is going through a rough patch right now. A few days ago, she asked me for two things: 1) Prayer for her and her family and 2) A guest post.
That was the least thing I could do for her.
When my friends are going through tough times, I’m always at a loss of what to say. I’ve botched up my words too many times to risk saying something totally insensitive or inappropriate. It is during those times that I feel helpless, and I feel helpless thinking about how helpless my friend must be as well.
And that’s why…all I can do, is pray. There are times when words mean little. There are times when words are just extraneous. These are the times when just a kind gesture—be it a warm hug, a thoughtful card, or just sitting next to the person and listening—will do.
My guest post was about making the perfect hash browns.
I chose that specifically because I have a special affinity for potatoes. Not just the taste, but the very virtue this humble tuber seem to represent for me.
I admire the plain broadness of a potato. It’s so bland-looking, that it doesn’t even deserve a contemptuous remark. It’s not even the least bit scandalous like bacon—just a dull-colored, misshaped mound sitting patiently under the earth, waiting to be dug out and tossed into a sack.
A potato does not ever scream out for attention. If you want attention-whores, just look at beets with their gorgeous colors and stripes. Look at asparagus and its elegant angles, and pomegranate for its sensuous crimson nectar.
But a potato? There ain’t nothing sexy or appealing about its looks. Even its taste…is plain. Simple. Utterly unadorned.
Yet the humble potato is the most common staple in households all around the world. It rarely plays center-stage, but it is what forms the base of a good vegetable soup, or a lovely starchy side to a medium-rare steak, or the perfect utensil to lick up some ketchup.
It’s underestimated, indeed, and lurks around in the background to many meals. But its presence is necessary to complete a meal. It may not sprout out pizzazz and wonder, but it certainly provides comfort, nutrition, and warm familiarity.
And that’s what I want to do for all my friends who are going through some personal trials right now. Be a potato. Be a friend whose silent presence can bring comfort and love. Because good friends don’t always have to be fun and loud.
Do check out my guest post at Mara’s blog. I highlighted the natural, wonderful essence of a potato by making hash browns out of it. And not just any hash brown, no no. It is the perfect hash browns. Because it was made with patience and love.
This is for you, my friend.
Perfect Hash Browns
from Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl
- Lots of starchy potatoes like Russet. I used about 7 medium-large ones.
- 6 tablespoons butter (unsalted!)
- 1/2 small onion, diced finely
- liberal amounts of coarse salt and fresh-ground black pepper
Boil the potatoes for about 10-12 minutes, until they are cooked half-way. Poke to make sure it’s not mushy inside.
Let them cool for a bit, and then chop them up into 1-inch cubes. I neglected to let them cool, but I did enjoy the steam facial:
Heh heh heh. Okay, after the potato steam facial, melt the butter on a large skillet over medium heat. Then remove 1/4 of the melted butter into a small bowl. I trust that you know not to toss it out…the precious butter will be used later.
Throw the potatoes into skillet, and use a spatula to press down on them, forming them into a flat cake. Keep pressing down on them to cohere them together, while running through the sides so that they don’t stick.
Let the potatoes cook for about 8 minutes until golden and brown underneath. Meanwhile, scatter the diced onions on top. Sprinkle with a small handful of coarse salt and black pepper.
Remove the skillet from heat, cover with a large plate and let the potatoes cook in its own steam for about 2 minutes.
Then, hold the plate and the skillet together and invert so that the potatoes fall into the plate, still forming the shape of a cake. Return skillet to the stove. Pour the remaining butter back into the skillet over medium heat.
Carefully slide the whole cake back into the skillet. Season with salt and pepper again. Cook for a few more minutes until a nice golden crust is formed underneath.
Serve immediately, and enjoy!
That’s just the recipe. But check out Mara’s blog for the step-by-step pictorial.
Yes, more pictures of the wonderful, awesome potatoes.
You know, potatoes can be kind of sexy. I think after a bite of these perfect hash browns, you would agree.
Hugs, love, and prayer to every one of you who needs them right now.
Question of the Day: When you’re feeling down…what is the best way to cheer you up? And what is your favorite potato dish?