I just gathered these plump lovelies this morning! Just kidding! Sun-warmed tomatoes are a distant memory and the weather is shockingly chilly. But hey, it’s potato time. They are dirty, graceless, and starchy. They are what’s for dinner.
I have an affection for the humble potato. I think it goes back to the baked potato bars of the 1980’s. Did those exist or is it my false food memory syndrome acting up again? I am honestly not sure. But whether my relationship with the russet is built on truth or a lie, what I am about to share with you is neither a recipe, nor does it count as cooking. But it does constitute getting dinner onto the table and into mouths so it’s important.
The watershed moment of my life occurred when I found out you can bake potatoes in a slow cooker. Other cooks might have known this for a long time but I am a late bloomer, or as I like to see myself, “a lifetime learner.” Around noon today, I came home with a new crock pot. The old one finally surrendered to leaking a full five years after cracking. I washed three russets for my family, and a sweet potato for me and placed them in the cooker on high. I added a bit of water and later in the day when I visitted them, I added a dash more. They baked until dinner when I served them with a choice of chili (vegetarian in a can that I added black beans to), cottage cheese or steamed broccoli. For their toppings my children chose: butter and ketchup. Ah well. I made a salad so I would feel better about the lack of greenery and then I ate the whole thing. My husband wasn’t home yet or he would have had some leaves, and the girls were too focused on using the potato masher to bother with greens. In any case, people were fed.
Please observe this prize russet that spent a full year in the soil of my friend Kirstin’s garden. Here it poses by a lemon! Last fall she extracted it from its underground slumber and I made scrumptious oven fries for my entire family from that one specimen.
My husband tells me those baked potato bars really did exist in the early 80’s. I see myself in a gold lame, vinyl headband, drowning my spud in sour cream and cheddar while humming a little Bryan Adams. I am fourteen, and concerns about cholesterol and abdominal fat have yet to intrude on my condiment choices. Ignorance was bliss, in food as in headgear and music selection.