A lot can happen in a week. Between last week’s post and today’s, much of our town has been in technology lockdown and many have been without water or heat. Remember those photos of the snow I showed you last week? Turns out that was the fun day.
That night, freezing rain left every twig, sidewalk and fencepost coated with ice. The poor trees couldn’t take it. We lost big limbs off our cherry, horse chestnut and the big maples at the corner. We weren’t the only ones. Driving downtown after the storm, we gasped over and over at the tree carnage: huge limbs fallen across front lawns and roadways; exposed wood on almost every major deciduous tree we passed; a number of trees whose trunks were split in two or three places.
Of course the ice and fallen limbs took power lines with them. We were among many thousands who lost power for days on end. Ours finally flickered to life after almost 76 hours and went out again for a few hours yesterday.
I want to show you photographs of the ice. But they don’t exist. Survival mode meant I spent time not with my camera, but cleaning out the fridge, doing three days worth of dishes and making soup to save the defrosted tortillas from the freezer. The rest of the time, once I detached my technology-dependent fingers from my iPhone, we played games with our kids in front of the fire and visited with my in-laws into the night at their house, where we stayed in generator-fired warmth for two days.
Now that the power’s back, we’re making plans to stockpile wood every fall so we don’t run out of the dry stuff again and have to mooch off our generous neighbors. We’re also thinking about emergency supplies and about keeping around the kinds of foods that don’t go bad in the freezer (hello, canning) and fresh produce that can hold its own outside the refrigerator.
Enter the potato. These Yukon Golds are still sourced from Washington and they would be just fine for a night or two (or a week or two) on the counter. Or in the garage. So my thoughts are more utilitarian this week. Not that my heart doesn’t flutter when the knife goes through these creamy yellow potatoes. It does. But I’m more in tune with the survival kind of comfort than the comfort food kind of comfort this week.
At least that was my line of thinking until I made up these pancakes yesterday. You can’t get much more comforting than hot latkes. With a melty glob of goat’s cheese on top, my lunch was enough not only to warm me up in the moment but to keep the memory of a cold week humming away, somewhere else, while I cleaned my plate of straggling bits of fried potato.
Yukon Kabocha Latkes
At home, my partner, son and I grown Yukons. We scrub them then cut
into wedges or thick matchsticks, toss them in curry power, sea salt,
and melted coconut oil or ghee and bake them in the oven in a single layer.
During these cold months, I cut up a variety of roots such as rutabagas, parsnips,
turnips, burdock and yam, with whole cloves of garlic and roast them together.
This makes a nice accompaniment to a main dish or a comforting meal in itself.
I also like potatoes au gratin, baked with Gruyere cheese and heavy cream.
I was inspired to make this dish one morning when I saw some Yukons
from our garden and a kabocha squash sitting on my kitchen counter.
Grated along with the flesh of a dense winter squash, these pancakes are
delightful for brunch, a snack or as part of any meal.
1.5 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and grated, peel on
2 c Kabocha squash or other dense winter squash such as Delicata or Butternut, grated
1 c green or Lacinato kale, chopped finely (optional)
1 medium yellow onion, grated
2 T fresh sage leaves, chopped
juice of one lemon
1 t sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
ghee, for frying
Combine the potatoes, squash, kale, egg, onion, sage, lemon juice, salt and pepper in
a medium sized mixing bowl.
Heat about 1 tablespoon of ghee in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat.
When ready, drop a couple of spoonfuls into a circle. You may be able to fit a
few circles in, or you may choose to fry them one at a time depending on how
evenly your pan heats. I like to fry them in fives – one in the center, and four
surrounding it. As the pan heats up, you may want to turn the heat to low so they
will cook through but not burn.
Cook each side for about 4 minutes, turning when golden.
Serve with chèvre and applesauce. If you like, chèvre can be thinned with cream or
milk of your choice for a saucier accompaniment.