Slow potato therapy

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So, I’ve been pretty busy. Writing two articles per day for FoodNavigator-USA about things like eating bugs, the ongoing GMO debate, the homophobic chairman of Barilla pasta and what makes consumers like or dislike whole wheat bread. I flew to Las Vegas for exactly 23 hours where I did my first ever on-camera interview. (Don’t get your hopes up about seeing that one; it hasn’t been published yet.)

It’s been a lot of fun and a lot of work. I’ve been cooking less as a result, and it feels a little like I’ve chosen journalist over cook for the time being. That’s OK. I think I’ll get the hang of the pace eventually and things will return to normal. But till then, my life is something of a frenzied dance of phone interviews, transcribing, writing, rewriting, stopping for a break to walk Pen or throw the ball around the hallway. Then writing and writing more. I never thought I’d be able to produce so much.

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In this new universe, cooking has become more of a therapeutic bookend for a particularly stressful day or week than the focal point. One Tuesday night, though there was a knot the size of a boulder between my shoulder blades, I made baked macaroni with two cheeses and acorn squash, topped with broccoli-basil breadcrumbs. Last Saturday, it was bacon, havarti and spinach strata. Then Sunday beef stew with parsnips and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Pureed broccoli soup for lunch a few Fridays back. And skillet cooked potatoes with tomato and fresh chorizo to end a particularly long Wednesday. The dishes haven’t been especially fancy, just loaded with comfort.

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I’ve gained a renewed appreciation for the patience required for tasks like getting potatoes really brown on all sides in a skillet. You have no choice but to babysit them, periodically adding fat because they love to drink it in. But the end result of crisp little cubes housing a creamy, almost mashed potato-like center makes it worthwhile.

And for some reason, nothing can turn the mind off quite like grating a mountain of cheese, slow caramelizing a pile of onions or rendering heavily spiced chorizo in a cast iron skillet.

Shhhhh, listen to the sizzle of beef in a hot pan, the chopchopchop of a knife flying through a mound of parsley leaves, of cheese-coated macaroni thwumping into a baking dish.

What was I stressed about again?

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4 Comments

Filed under Food writing

4 responses to “Slow potato therapy

  1. You are awesome! Really, if there is one person I look up to these days, it’s you – Miss writer and foodie extraordinaire. Your first photo looks much like what goes on at my place, only swap the dog for a cat. I made mac ‘n cheese with butternut squash recently. It has become one of my favorite dishes to make for others. And anytime I’m feeling down a big bowl of mashed potatoes or seasoned skillet potatoes will have me smiling in no time.

    • Thanks, lady! It’s a bit maddening, but really gratifying!

      BTW, I can’t believe I haven’t been putting winter squash in my mac & cheese all this time. It is GENIUS.

  2. Maggie

    So lovely! I am interested in hearing more about this squash, mac, and cheese recipe….

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