Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Ode to Hash Browns
As an act of gratitude and celebration of a blissful breech in bad monotony, here is my ode to hash browns:
Time alone carries fantastical innuendo when you're robbed of it. Time alone in abundance, without aim, without energy, without sound is a different thing entirely. An unexpected burden are the meals between 8 & 5 that I can't muster the emotional energy to cook. Usually (and by usually I mean always) if I eat at all in the daylight hours, it's a meal as in uno (none of this breakfast and then lunch a reasonable amount of hours after breakfast).
At approximately 1:24pm I mill solemnly through the pantry, the refrigerator, the food drawers, back to the fridge. Then I put the kettle on, pick out my daily tea (market spice, gun metal green, or some times I just cop out with some Tazo Refresh), then I sit back down to the laptop and brown afghan; no new emails in the 8 minutes I've just spent in the kitchen. What was I doing? Oh yeah, I'm hungry. The kettle screams.
Usually (and by usually I mean every day but today) this is when depression sinks in. Too aggravated with solo culinary arts but too hungry to ignore the pangs. I put on another movie or decide on my next futile house project. This morning/afternoon, however, inspiration anointed my crown, lightening struck, the clouds parted and in that blessed moment I knew exactly what I wanted to eat. I knew I had all the ingredients: Krusteez, Yukon Golds, green onions, blackberry preserves, vanilla extract (I like a little vanilla in my pancakes), sour cream, only not in that order. This clarity of vision was just the motivation I needed.
I walked in the kitchen with purpose. I flung open cabinets with grit and Christmas Eve anticipation: mixing bowl, check, pancake batter, check, water, vanilla, a splash of vegetable oil, check, check, check. A little more water, too lumpy. The skillet already hot and lubed in Pam, I grab my handy measuring cup and scoop out some batter (no, I don't measure my pancakes - do you know me at all - they're ideal for handling the batter and making nice circles (for initials use a measuring pitcher)). 3 perfect pancakes sizzling away, now it's time to grate the taters. I hate grating and actually have a miniature phobia of the not-rare-enough skin grating incidents that peel away just enough flesh for a persistent sting, risk of infection, and the angst-ridden pressure to decide whether or not to tear that hanging flap all the way off or try to paste it back on when you know it's just going to catch on something and annoy you later, so you might as well take it off now because you know you'll be obsessing over that mini-wound until that happens.
Yet another sign that this day is blessed, no skin grating.
Pancakes are off and buttered as I hurriedly chop 2 green onions and throw them on the crackling olive oil. Nothing pulses saliva into the back corners of your cheeks faster than the smell of onions cooking in oil. I spread the potato shavings (sans epidermis) playfully over the onions and press them into the skillet with the back of my spatula. As they brown and crisp, I thinly layer some blackberry preserves over my pancakes (we're out of syrup, but I prefer jam anyway). Then, it's time to flip the meaty layer of spuds and let the other side crisp. I nearly run out of patience for them to cook, so eager is my appetite, and instead take these moments to put on the kettle and decide on the perfect condiment. Sour cream.
But, wait. A last minute stroke of genius, a humble smattering of shredded cheddar (I know it's tempting the fates to pull out a shredder twice in one stroke, but I carry the confidence of titans now, so superb has been this day). I reach for the jasmine pearls, admittedly a bold move. I mock tribulation. Tea steeping in one hand, the complex aromas of pancakes and hash browns in the other, I sit at my couch - not forlorn, not aimless and pitiable - but proud, self-congratulatory and really fucking hungry.