Thursday, April 29, 2010

Food of My Youth

I had a flashback experience last night over dinner.

Husband is away on a golf trip for a few days, so at dinner time, I nosed around in the refrigerator to see what I should make for my evening meal. I had set some salmon aside the day before, so I grabbed that. I grabbed the asparagus in the vegetable drawer, and then I saw it—a plastic container of leftover mashed potatoes.

My mother was raised during the Depression, so she never threw out a single spoonful of food. She saved everything and figured out how to use it the next day or the day after that, and sometimes the day after that. I remember one of her rare cooking instructions when I was a teenager, and she thought I needed to know how to make potato pancakes.

With this container of leftovers, I followed those instructions from more than 30 years ago. I mixed the potatoes with a beaten egg, some diced onion and some bread crumbs. I formed them into little pancakes, fried them in oil about 4 to 5 minutes per side over medium heat and drained them on paper towel. While this was going on, I broiled the salmon and asparagus, and within ten minutes, I had a delightful dinner for one.

I threw a little seasoning at the pancakes, just a dusting of a combination of paprika, oregano, basil, onion powder, garlic powder, salt pepper. I sat down with a glass of Reisling and my lovely dinner and took a bite of childhood.

I don't cook like my mother very often. I can never seem to pull off corn bread or coconut cake or fried chicken or fried fresh corn the way she can, but now I know I can pull off a batch of potato pancakes—fluffy on the inside but crisp and brown on the outside.

What do you cook that you learned to cook as a kid?


dive said...

Mmmm … Comfort food!
My favourite comfort cooking from childhood is "throw everything in the pot, two-day spicy winter vegetable stew" which is awesome on coooold winter nights.

kyle@sift said...

Scrambled eggs with a hideous amount of freshly grated parmesan cheese...I make those potato pancakes, too...exactly the way your mom does!

Shan said...

I love potato pancakes! But, like you haven't thought about them in years probably because I never ever make mashed potatoes.

I can't think of a comfort food I make except- for SOME reason anytime I make a pot of stew like Dive is talking about, I feel like all is well in the world and I'm a great home maker. I don't really remember this from childhood but it comforts me anyway. :)
And, come to think of it Chicken and dumplings is a good example of my Grandma's comforting food. I try to imitate that sometimes.

MmeBenaut said...

I loved this story Robyn and those pancakes sound delicious.
My mother had a few special dishes she always made us as kids but I admit that I don't make her lamb's fry & bacon, pork & cashew chow mein or potato and salmon pancakes. The one thing I do make occasionally is tuna & sweetcorn mornay. So simple: make a bechamel sauce and then add a can of tuna (not the water) and a can of sweetcorn kernels. Chopped onion is sauteed and added to the sauce. Place in a casserole dish, top with grated cheese and paprika and bake just until the cheese melts and browns a little. Can be eaten on toast or on rice or just by itself. It is a quick and cheap meal that goes a long way and is a favourite on a winter's evening. It's a little too heavy for summer. This was my stepdaughter Jodie's favourite food when she was little and she still loves it.