Did you ever read the Moomin books? Moomin Mama and Moomin Papa and Snufkin and the gang? They are children’s stories by Tove Jansson, and if you’re not familiar already, you should check them out.
One of my favorite stories is The Hemulen who Loved Silence. It’s about a Hemulen (one of the Jansson creatures) who is feels overwhelmed by how loud the world is. He craves whispers and padded footsteps and shadows. I don’t want to give it all away, but it’s a very short story and you can read it all here. You’ll read it? Promise? It’s kind of a magical little tale.
Sometimes BGE and I feel like that Hemulen. We live in a loud-screaming-rumbling neighborhood. You’d think that since I grew up in a swallow-you-whole metropolis and BGE spent some years in Brookyln, we’d be fine with it. Or maybe all those years wore us out. We’d love to live in a quiet little tucked-away den, but we can’t afford to move out right now. But it’s never quiet here. Well, almost never.
Sometimes, when I’m cooking, I can’t hear anything. Everything else looses focus, save my knife on the cutting board. I guess that’s how I don’t notice the chaos of dishes piling around me, or the splatters on the stove, or BGE groaning about how loud the neighbors are.
I love that feeling. I love it because truly getting down and focusing on anything is a tremendous chore for me. BGE can sit and stare at his computer for hours and never once click away to the interwebs. I’ve had coworkers who could enter data for days, claiming that it was “soothing.” That’s never been me, unless it involved running or swimming.
But I love that nothing can distract me from this, that I can’t hear the child/pterosaur outside, or the various neighbors who announce their very small junk with their very loud cars.
What makes your world go quiet?
- 1 lb of assorted fingerling potatoes
- 3 medium beets
- 1 lb asparagus, washed and trimmed
- 1 lb spring onions, washed and trimmed (I trimmed to where the stalks split)
- 2 tbsp fresh thyme
- a few springs of fennel
- 1 huge garlic clove, or two medium garlic cloves
- olive oil
- about 2-3 cups of vegetable broth
- Slice the beets and potatoes.
- Put the beets and potatoes into separate pots (don't worry, cleanup is easy) with enough veggie broth to cover.
- Cover the pots. Cook the beets at medium heat for about 15 minutes and the potatoes on high for the same amount of time.*
- Remove from heat and drain away excess broth. Set aside.
- Coat a skillet with olive oil and bring to medium heat.
- Grate in the garlic clove.
- Let the garlic get a little dark and then chop in the spring onions and thyme
- Cook uncovered for about 5 minutes.
- Add the asparagus in and cover loosely.
- Cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add in the potatoes and beets, tossing to coat the olive oil and herbs.
- Cook for 1 more minute and then remove from heat.
- Sprinkle on salt and pepper to taste.
- Just before serving, toss in a handful of fennel sprigs.
*you can cook them in the same pot if you want to. just start the potatoes on medium heat for 10 minutes, add in the beets, and cook for 15 more minutes. I just chose to cook them separately because I didn't want the beets bleeding all over the potatoes.
A few years ago, I was at a diner having brunch with my family. My aunt offered me her leftover hash browns, and I shrugged. Ok. As she passed the plate over, she gave me a sheepish look. “I only ordered them because I like the crispy crust,” she explained.
I looked down at the potatoes. All the crust had definitely been picked off, showing the pasty tubers below. They were pale. There might have been an onion in there somewhere. But they definitely didn’t look or sound good anymore.
And I realized my aunt was right. She was the kind of person who was right about pretty much everything, and hash browns were no exception.
The best part of the hash brown is the crust. So we need a hash brown that is all crust, and these potatoes are nothing but crust. Well, there’s a little kale in there too, but what you won’t find are sad, slimy, undercooked hash brown middles. (Oh, dear please don’t let me have offended the people who like hash brown middles. We’re still pals, right?)
Serve these hot, with a side of sunny side up eggs and a big glass of freshly squeezed juice. We had them as breakfast-for-dinner. There was some leftover sauce and I had it the next morning, mashed up with a hard-boiled egg before work. I’m pretty sure this sauce would be a perfect sandwich spread, or a pasta sauce, or, even a dip. That means you’d be dipping veggies in more veggies, which is a super healthy way to kick off the weekend. And earns you lots of chocolate.
Not that you need an excuse to eat chocolate. ♥
Crispy Kale and Potato Stacks
for the potatoes
- 4 medium golden potatoes
- 2 1/2 tbsp chopped chives
- 1/2 tsp salt
for the kale
- 1 lb kale, stalks removed
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 medium garlic clove
- 1/4 tsp curry powder
- pinch of cayenne
- Preheat the oven to 425.
- Scrub the potatoes and grate them on the fine side of your grater.
- Put all the grated potatoes in a flour sack cloth and squeeze as much moisture out of them as you can.
- Mix the potatoes with the chives and salt.
- Put the potatoes on a silicone sheet and spread them out really thin. You should be able to cover most of a 12 & 18 pan. It won't spread all the way to the edges. I used a rolling pin.
- Make some score marks on the potatoes so that you have about 10 even rectangles.
- Bake for 15 minutes.
- Flip the rectangles and bake for about 20-25 more minutes.
- When you remove the potatoes from the oven, they should be crispy but still a little pliable.
- Cut each rectangle into 3 pieces. It's easiest if you use scissors. Set potatoes aside.
- Put the vegetable broth in a sautee pan and bring to a boil.
- Add the kale and garlic to the pan and let it cook for 2-3 minutes without stirring.
- Cook, stirring constantly, for 4-5 more minutes, or until it looks as though broth is reduced to 1/4 cup.
- Remove from heat and puree. I just put in in a huge mug and used my beloved immersion blender (thanks again, Ema!)
- To serve, layer three potato crisps with kale sauce in the middle (potato, kale, potato, kale, potato, kale).
- Garnish with crema or sour cream if desired.