potatoes and spoon

I am at a place right now where I am standing still in life.

Everywhere around me, people are rushing for things—new places and careers, new relationships, new life, even—and I am watching them.

I want to go forward, to take a step, join them, but instead I stare at my feet, unmoving and, if I’m honest, afraid.

slicing potatoes

Most days, I want a blueprint: a very, very specific outline of steps to take, with guarantees and/or backup plans, if possible. So I talk to people who’ve been in similar situations, and they tell me what they did, whether they got their first apartment at 17 or had to work their way through college or stayed at their first job for five years.

But no matter how similar life stories are, they aren’t the same. Following your choices won’t guarantee that I follow your life. Your future can’t be mine.

sliced potatoes

And I don’t really want it to be. Not when I’m honest. In fact, I don’t really want advice, either. I think I just want someone to listen and nod and say, you know, what’s supposed to happen will happen. Because I believe that.

Meanwhile, I take easy change where I can find it, and, at least for me, that means the kind that happens in the kitchen, routinely, every day.

assembling

Like, I take a baby gold potato in my hand, set in on a wooden spoon and make quick slices, then smothering it with olive oil and butter, tossing salt and pepper and sage on top. A full bag of these goes onto a cookie sheet, slid into a hot oven that warms my face and hands when I open and close its door. In an hour: what was cold, raw flesh has become hot, soft and tender, fragrant and flavorful. The skins have wrinkled and darkened, the juices have sunk in deep.

potatoes filled

Hasselback potatoes are really something special. Beautiful and intelligent. Requiring a bit of effort for something very impressive. I think they look like little snails, but that doesn’t sound appetizing, so let’s say they look like little fans—waves that are crusty and golden, juicy and crispy.

hasselback potatoes

And the bit of effort that goes into creating them—the slicing and stuffing, which is mindless work—yields great returns when you look at these, but even more when you taste them.

That’s the kind of change I don’t have to think twice about choosing, which is, of course, welcome indeed.




Hasselback Potatoes
Inspired by Falling Cloudberries

Ingredients:
1.5 pounds of baby gold potatoes
Olive oil
3 Tablespoons butter
Chopped sage
Salt and pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and drizzle olive oil on top to prevent the potatoes from sticking.

Take potatoes, one by one, and set on a wooden spoon, slicing top to bottom along the length of the body at even intervals. To make the slits larger, you can slice tiny bits of the potato out by slicing at alternating diagonals. (I did this with some and not with others – both worked fine.)

Set the sliced potatoes on the oiled baking sheet, being careful not to break them apart. Drizzle with olive oil. Insert bits of butter between the openings in each potato. Sprinkle sage all over. Sprinkle salt and pepper all over.

Slide baking sheet in oven and bake for 30 to 45 minutes, tossing the potatoes once after 20 minutes in the heat.

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. Becky

    Oh my goodness, these look insanely good! And I just so happen to have a bag of baby golds in the fridge….Thanks for the lovely idea. I think that taking some time to stand in place and stare at your feet is perfectly acceptable and even necessary at times. I’m with you in always questioning my choices and comparing myself to others. I just see my life as in such an unstable place and everyone around me seems to have their lives figured out. But you know? I think there are fewer people that have their stuff together than you might think. And in the meantime, making beautiful food is a great coping mechanism!

  2. Lan

    Shannalee, you are too cute for words. i know exactly how you feel, not only about change but about needing a sounding board and not necessarily advice. if you should ever need to vent, holla at a sister.

  3. Rachel

    I understand just what you mean when you say you’re standing still while everyone else is rushing around. I personally think that standing still is a good thing and that we should do it more often- give ourselves a chance to think things through a bit. I’m in the middle of huge transition in my life, and everyone around me keeps rushing me and asking me if I’m nervous or worried, and you know what I say, “Not at all. Because I know everything will work out just the way it should”. And that is the truth.

    PS. la-la-love the potatoes.

  4. Vicki P

    Potatoes look great! I will definitely have to try. I also worry about standing still and my mind is often cluttered with what ifs about the future. Recently I started practicing mindfulness meditation – living in the now. Very helpful. I also find it easy to live in the present when I am cooking. In fact the kitchen is the only place I “allow” myself to make mistakes without worrying.

  5. Shannalee

    I know I’ve said this before, but I think you’re all really nice. Thanks for being the Internet version of nodding heads and empathy.

    Kickpleat – Accordion potatoes sound so much better than fans. Love it. And bread crumbs would be really interesting on top!

    Vicki – I love how you said the kitchen is the place where it’s safe to make mistakes. I agree. And I’d like to think it’s also a place to become braver for everywhere else.

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