The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Vicki Sternfeld
the Times 

Potatoes and patience (not)


October 24, 2019

I am one of, if not the most impatient person in the world. Anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I do everything at high speed, and it seems as I age, time flies by at warp speed. So, you can understand I applaud one of the greatest inventions ever—the microwave. A “baked” potato in 5 minutes is my definition of heaven. However, Thanksgiving is approaching, so I think the lowly potato deserves better than a zap in the microwave.

In keeping with my need for speed, I have two “go to” recipes for tasty potatoes with a little more finesse, but ones that can still be prepared quickly. I usually serve both, because, well, it’s Thanksgiving and less is not more - more is more!

Roasted Potatoes - Use whatever white potatoes you want; russets, baby reds, Yukon golds, cut the potatoes so they are all about the same size, spread on sheet pan, douse with olive oil, salt & pepper, chopped rosemary, thyme is also an option. Roast or bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, shake the pan around, and continue cooking until they are soft. If my garden still has parsley, I sprinkle some on before serving.

Sweet potato soufflé - This is a recipe adapted from an old edition of the Joy of Cooking. It’s not included in the newer books, so from memory - here goes. It’s easy and forgiving, the amounts aren’t set in stone. Roast yams until they are soft. Estimate one potato for two people, when the potatoes have cooled down, scoop from their skins into a bowl, mix in some orange juice, about 1-2 tablespoons per potato, and add some cinnamon. Place into a soufflé or casserole dish, sprinkle generously with brown sugar. Bake at 350 until warmed through.

In keeping with the potato theme, there is a holiday on the horizon that I celebrate; Chanukah. It’s the Jewish holiday that’s known as the Festival of Light. The Cliff Notes version of this holiday- it celebrates is the retaking of the temple in Palestine after having been expelled from there. The returning Jews cleansed their temple for eight days, in their cleansing, they found there was only oil enough for one day, miraculously the oil lasted 8 days and nights.

Granted, Waitsburg is not home to a large Jewish population, but you may want to consider celebrating this holiday. We light candles for eight nights, and then we cook with oil. Yes, we fry, fry and fry! The most traditional foods are potato pancakes, (latkes), usually topped with applesauce, as fruit adds a health factor. Somehow in modern times, jelly donuts have been added to the “must have” foods of Chanukah, I have no explanation for this choice. I do think in Waitsburg, fried green tomatoes should be added to the menu. I know I have a lot of those sitting in a box in my pantry. Dessert, usually a sweet noodle pudding (Kugel) made with cream, raisins and sugar, should be served with a package of Tums and a defibrillator nearby.

The Jewish calendar is a lunar one, the holidays appear on different dates each year. Sometimes the moon cooperates, and Chanukah falls in late November or early in December, giving me a breather, so I can ease into the Christmas and New Year’s parties and their inherent eating frenzy. This year the holiday is December 22 - December 30. It’s a week of gluttony, then back to the gym on January 1, but only after watching the Rose Bowl game with chips, guacamole, and sliders. Happy Chanukah!


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