Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Placki Kartofane

Potato Pancakes

8 large potatoes, peeled , cut up and grated
1 large onion cut up and grated
1 egg
3 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup bacon drippings

The book is a gift from the high school library staff to my mother at her retirement after 43 years as an English teacher. Inside the front cover is an affirmation- May you have many years of health,happiness and time to try every recipe in this book.
My cooking skills are a direct result of my mother's inability to cook. An early memory is my mother standing at the stove struggling with Mac n' Cheese. I was encouraged by my Polish foster parents to cook. Both were artists, each in their own way. I remember Ma and Pa bragging that as soon as I was tall enough to reach the stove with the aid of a stool, I learned to fix eggs. I give you the basic recipe so the accomplished chefs out there reading this drivel will not blame me when something goes horribly wrong. When the house is filled with smoke, the kitchen buried in dirty dishes and the dog won't eat what you drop on the floor.

I follow Dawn out to the garage. She's on her way to work and I'm going to get potatoes stored in the soap studio. The thermometer on the garage reads below zero. The LED thermometer in the soap studio reads in the thirties. Cursing ensues. I choose four small russet potatoes. Russets are a drier potato, used locally for making Lefse. I wash the potatoes, but I don't peel and cut them up. There are vitamins in the peel. I grate until the spuds are dangerous small nubs. Then I peel four small onions and slice them. We have a Pampered Chef vegetable chopper. I pound away at the chopper until the onion slices are reduced to a fine mess, saving my knuckles. If you forget to toss the onion peels before putting coffee in the microwave, you'll have the wind from the microwave fan blowing skins across the counter. To the potato/onion mix I add two eggs. They're pullet eggs. The shells are as tough as pigskin. I invariably drop a shell into the mix. More cursing. Next, I add two tablespoons of unbleached flour. You may choose whole wheat or any one of a dozen other kinds of flour. I grabbed the bag in first bag in the front of the cabinet.
Here's where a deranged cook goes astray. The fire department hauls him away to Mystic Acres on a gurney. Forget the salt despite the capital "S" in the recipe. In the instructions, the description of salt is that of a seasoning. Mistrusting a 1968 cookbook, I consult Craig Claiborne's New York Times Cookbook. He adds baking soda. Me, I add baking powder. The rationale-fluffy potato pancakes. Bacon drippings? My step dad says they'd save the tail from a butchered hog to grease the skillet. Foregoing a heart attack at age 59 like my Dad, I pour two tablespoons of Pomace oil into a stainless steel skillet. Pomace oil is a cheaper version of olive oil made from leftover crushed olives ( I leave it to you to get the detailed description). I choose stainless steel because it heats faster. Cast iron is better.
The instructions say to cook the pancake at high heat after you drop three dollops in the pan and flatten them. I drop two dollops into a heap and flatten the heap. There is no room for another pancake. Forget the high heat, too. Claibourne says to use bacon fat OR butter. At position "2" out of seven settings on my gas stove, the living room has a purple haze wafting across the room. I have not been smoking.
My recipe makes four large pancakes and one medium sized cake. The original recipe says, ..."serves six. Serve with mushrooms and salad ." I forage in the basement for an '05 half pint of apple butter. People told me it tastes more like apple sauce. You may want to garnish with something less than 3 years old.

1 comment:

Laura Jayne said...

Hi Roger,

Hope you are doing well in the snow and the cold and this lonnnnnngggg winter.

I offered you an award on my blog, yes, it is a pretty and fluffy award, but I really do think your blog is lovely thing that I enjoy every time you post.