|A long way from home—Kennebec (Maine) |
potatoes at the Canberra Farmers’ Market,
5. House has clearly been vacuumed every time you return from even the briefest errand—like, say, going to the mailbox.
4. You immediately forget which week is “just garbage” and which week is “garbage + recycling.”
3. No dirty dishes in the sink. Ever.
2. You’re up on what’s happening in the world again after six weeks of getting random current events updates off the internet.
1. Potatoes for dinner.
True to his English/Irish/Maine roots, DP is a certified potato fiend. Miss B and I, on the other hand, favor the Italian side of the family, and prefer to get our starch fix from pasta. We’ve eaten a lot of pasta over the past few weeks. And, when I felt like we needed a change of pace, carb-wise, rice (another Miss B favorite, and quick) was next in line. Result: I had not cooked a single potato since early May. But I’ve cooked this twice in the last five days. DP may be firmly of northern antecedents, but my southern Italian grandmother’s take on potatoes is his all-time favorite.
Italian baked potatoes with oil
Since I’ve been in Canberra, I’ve taken a new approach to baking potatoes. I don’t know if it’s the potato varieties here, or if my oven is just particularly crappy, but even the better part of two hours with the oven on full blast wasn’t enough to cook my potatoes through. So, as part of my experiments in new and strange uses of the slow cooker, I’ve started slow baking my potatoes. It works great, and it gives such a feeling of satisfaction to know that at least part of dinner has been underway since about lunchtime.
6 medium floury white potatoes, cleaned and stabbed with a fork
1 clove of garlic, minced*
Bake potatoes thoroughly, using your preferred method. (If you do use the slow cooker, wrap them in foil and plan to bake them on high for at least four hours. Also, it’s a good idea to stick them in a hot oven for 20-30 minutes at the end to get the skin crispy.)
Put minced garlic in the bottom of a large bowl. Chop hot baked potatoes into medium-sized chunks (about 1 inch/3 cm) and dump into bowl. Sprinkle the pile of potato chunks evenly with salt, then drizzle thoroughly with olive oil. Using a large, heavy fork or spoon,*** mix the salt and oil into the potatoes thoroughly. Repeat sprinkling with salt and oil and mixing until potatoes are about the same consistency of mashed potatoes (although with some lumps and big chunks of crispy skin) and salted to your taste. Serve immediately alongside your main course of choice (or as your main course if you, too, are a potato fiend).
* Since I’ve been using the slow cooker, I often throw another foil packet of garlic and olive oil in to bake with the potatoes, and use a couple of cloves of that instead of fresh garlic.
** Use whatever kind you have, but these are especially good with extra-virgin.
*** I use a hefty stainless-steel serving fork.