Today I am making an inventory of our freezer. There’s the container of watermelon chunks that needs to be used up. I also have a container filled with cubes of lime juice and I think both will get blended with some orange juice and rum for the weekend. There is also the last of the turkey that needs to go into the soup pot and bread ends waiting to be made into stuffing.
As I work through the chopped onions and celery, the bags of bananas that need to be made into bread, and other odds and ends I think about the seasonal cycles. If we were still following them and living an agraian lifestyle, midwinter would see the start of us plundering the back of our stores of food. We’d be digging into thecold cellar tofind those vegetables that were still firm, peeling off the green parts of the cheese wheel, checking the stores for grain the mice hadn’t found. We would be working through calculations to figure out if what there was would last the next two months before the first few plants start to show up allowing fresh food back on the menu.
And I consider what life is like now. There are smart phones and vaccines and freezers. But there are still families scrounging their pantries, trying to make meals from frozen vegetables and bread, and doing those same calculations of how little they have to eat in order to make the food stretch. I’ve been there myself, living off of frozen green beans and white rice for days because I had to save the milk and eggs for my children. 2020 has worsened food insecurity, seeing 1 in 4 households with not enough to eat, and lines at food banks stretching for miles.
I don’t know what the answer is. I don’t believe it is a return to some idealized, fanciful past. But I also don’t believe that the modern, capitalist is going to fix the problems it has created and/or worsened. Learning that the US government is sending out money to people, after bickering for months over the amount, doesn’t hearten me. I feel tired, worn out. People need help, they need security, they need money.
Tonight, I’ll be using up the last of the potatoes and the half of an onion I found in the fridge. Fried potatoes are a comfort food for me. My grandmother made them best, so that they were soft and warm with crunchy, salty bits. Mine aren’t as good as hers yet, but I’m getting there. Magically, both potatoes and onions have properties of stability. The fact that the grow in the earth gives them grounding properties. Potatoes are also very filling, if not as nutritional as other root vegetables. All of these characteristics makes the fried potato dish a simple bit of kitchen magick that aids in feelings of security when the world around you are feeling anxious or vulnerable.
Recipe: Fried Potatoes & Onions
- 2 medium potatoes (any kind)
- 1 small onion
- 4 T butter (or olive oil)
- Salt and pepper
- Wash and dry potatoes. Peel if desired. Slice potatoes thinly (1/8″ to 1/4″ wide).
- Place potatoes in a medium sized bowl filled with cold water. Let soak ten minutes to remove excess starch. This keeps the potatoes from going mushy when being cooked. Once soaked, drain the potatoes and pat dry.
- Slice onion into thin strips.
- In a cast iron or other high walled skillet heat the butter or oil over medium high heat. Add onions and potatoes to the skillet. Spread out into a thin layer. Cover and cook 1 minute.
- Flip vegetables. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and cook 1 minute more.
- Flip vegetables again and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for five minutes.
- Flip the vegetables one last time, cooking until the potatoes are cooked through.