COLUMNISTS

The eternal question: What to cook?

Susan Manzke
Susan gives her potato pancakes a taste on a cold morning.

In past years, I’d ask Bob what he wanted to eat for lunch or supper. He would shrug and not give me an answer. Too bad he didn’t tell me he had a taste for mashed potatoes. Because he didn’t ask for it, I rarely mashed any. Now I wished I made him mashed potatoes at least once a week—happily he was able to order some when we went out for lunch.

Today I’m not making mashed potatoes. That’s just too much work for one person. Even so, I am working with potatoes in the kitchen.

I asked myself what I wanted to eat today and came up with a Bob answer. I shrugged. As I looked in the refrigerator, I saw the container of potatoes I had boiled earlier. What could I do with those? They were boiled because I hate peeling potatoes. The skin easily came off after they were boiled. I made potato salad with a few and put the rest in the refrigerator.

Earlier today, I had an email from a Jewish friend who had made Latkes for a family meal during Hanukkah. I didn’t have her Latke recipe, but I knew I could check out Google for answers.

For years, I was on the kitchen crew at my church when we had a pancake fundraiser. In a corner a couple of us mixed up the batter for potato pancakes—I wish I had written down the recipe, but I never did. I thought it had been etched in my memory from measuring it up so many times. Today, I can only guess.

Potato pancake batter in my food processor.

I found a recipe for baked potato latkes. I figured this recipe would work for me, even though my potatoes were boiled.

Ingredients included: 3 cups peeled and mashed baked potatoes, 1 cup chopped onion, 1 ½ teaspoon salt, pepper, 5 tablespoons flour, 2 whisked eggs, and oil for frying. It did not include milk, but I needed it. Too bad I didn’t measure my liquid component and just put in what the mixture needed—again working by the seat of my pants.

If I was using fresh potatoes, I would have grated them as we had at the church dinner. This day I wasn’t grating anything. Chunks of my boiled/skinned potatoes went into my food processor. I gave it a whirl to get the potatoes moving. Everything else went into the processor except the oil. The oil went into a pan, which I turned on while the batter mixed.

After the oil had heated, I started plopping globs of batter into the pan. Of course, I was too impatient for the first ones to brown and tried flipping them too soon. Still, I managed to save them. After both sides of this mashed potato pancake were brown, I took it out and let it cool on a paper towel—too impatient for it to cool, I burnt my mouth tasting the first hot pancake.

My lunch today was mashed potato pancakes—I ate them as I fried them, never putting them on a plate.

Frying potato pancakes.

Because I had more potatoes, I made a second batch of this batter. It took a long time to fry both batches, but I now have plenty to freeze and pop out for other meals. Maybe next time I will even use a plate and include some apple sauce in my lunch—potato pancakes also go great with sausages and maple syrup. Yum.

I’m not baking a lot of cookies for Christmas. I never have. But now I have a holiday meal that will last through the season. Though I’m not exactly finished. Clean up is next.

Maybe Santa could send me a kitchen elf who would magically take care of the mess.

Nope. I better get to work then, roll up my sleeves, and run some dishwater. There’s no magic here today.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net/blog.