My highly wonderful girlfriend recently linked me to a story online that she thought I’d relate to – an interview with Canadian writer Fariha Roisin – and while reading it I was nodding so emphatically in agreement that I probably kicked off some kind of Butterfly Effect. I mean, look at this:
“I really struggle with the idea of productivity. I hate the fact that I value myself on my own creative produce, and I enact so much frustration and hate onto myself when I can’t, or won’t (due to emotional blockages, etc) create. Recently I’ve felt a great big void in the center of my being. I want to let myself have days off, but I don’t necessarily think I deserve them.”
It’s oddly calming to read Roisin articulate that storminess just as I would. Like I said in my last blog post, I’m trying to manage my expectations of myself (which are, some might say, a little ludicrously high) in relation to the actual time available to achieve them all, and not getting a particularly satisfactory outcome.
All of this dark-eye-circled self-centredness has really only increased because I have a lot of projects happening where the time to do them seems just out of reach, but I’m not sure if it’s the lack of time or if it’s just me, you know? And as I blurted on twitter the other day, I really want to make a food show web series, the sort that you watch and think “oh yeah that will definitely end up on TV at some stage”, and I want it to be hilarious and excellent and different and not simply pleasant and straightforward like 99% of the existing food-related content out there. The world does not need another pleasant cooking show, but I feel like one that’s fun and stupid and properly funny and irreverent without being too laboured and studied is…well, just as unnecessary in the greater scheme of things, but still, I want it to happen and that’s reason enough for me. And I don’t know how to do this and whenever I’ve had time to think about it, I’ve had to sleep, because there’s only so many hours in the day. Part of me wonders if I’m letting myself use my busy schedule as an excuse to not have to actually do anything, and part of me is literally asleep right now as I write this, so.
But! I did achieve potatoes! Take that, The Passage of Time! It also happens to be the one single thing I’ve cooked in the time since the caramel slice in my last blog post, so thank goodness it’s monumentally incredibly delicious.
Say what you will about microwaves, but I realised recently if you briefly zap potatoes in one, you can then fry or roast them with extreme haste, and have yourself some kind of carbohydrate-rich dish in significantly less time than it would normally take! And that time always feels endless when you’re waiting for potatoes. With this recipe you can have a lusciously wonderful dish of crisply fried potatoes in a not-overly unbearable time. It’s not exactly instant, but it’s instant-er than you’re gonna get otherwise.
I made this up the other day as a pre-work snack, just based on ingredients I had to hand, and it’s really as quite-fast as I claim. The time it took for the potato pieces to sizzle into golden crispness was just the right amount of time to go look for my camera’s SD card, be entirely unable to find it in the nourishing vegetable soup of possessions that is my bedroom, also realise I couldn’t find the bowl I wanted to photograph the potatoes in, declare everything to be literal garbage and I, the luckless raccoon atop it all, then pull myself together and decide to find a different bowl and to use my phone to take photos instead.
Importantly, it tastes incredible.
quite fast garlic and parmesan potatoes
a recipe by myself
three medium-sized floury potatoes, or potatoes that are labelled suitable for frying/roasting
30g butter, or more to taste (obviously I added more)
a teaspoon or so of olive oil (it stops the butter from burning)
four fat cloves of garlic, or thereabouts
parmesan cheese for grating over
Stab the potatoes a couple of times with a fork, and then throw them in the microwave – no need to even put them on a plate or anything, but I guess you can – and cook on high for about three minutes.
Meanwhile, peel the garlic cloves and very roughly chop them – you’re looking for good-sized bits here, not crushed garlic – and put them into a wide saucepan along with the butter and oil. Place the pan on a medium heat, stirring occasionally while the butter melts and the garlic starts to gently sizzle.
Remove the potatoes from the microwave – you might want oven mitts or tongs for this – and very roughly chop them into smallish pieces. If the edges get roughed up and some bits get a little crushed, so much the better. Turn up the heat on the butter and tip in the potatoes, stirring around so they’re all evenly sitting in the pan. Let them fry until wonderfully golden, stirring occasionally so all surface areas are against the heat of the pan. This will take about ten minutes.
Once you’re satisfied with the done-ness of the potatoes, tip them onto a plate or bowl and grate over as much parmesan as you see fit.
Stickily rich garlic, golden crunchy potatoes which are fluffily tender inside, barely melting sharp parmesan, blanketed as thickly as you can be bothered grating it – this is both comforting and beautiful. The quantities of ingredients listed are a little vague, because you can make this as garlicky and buttery and parmesan-y as you please really, and because apparently I like to overexplain things. What I’m saying is, trust yourself and what you want, but what I’ve given you here is a good starting point.
I ate the entire bowlful and licked the plate (some might say that’s an uncouth habit but I say the tongue is nature’s spatula) and was utterly pleased with myself, which, given my aforementioned tendency towards sternly growling at myself all the time, was…nice. Of course you can have these as part of a table of brunch food or to accompany steak or a roasted thing or whatever you want, but eaten on their own they’re pretty perfect.
Speaking of what is and isn’t perfect, I leave you – and myself- with these wise words from Fariha Roisin:
I’m learning to not have conditions attached to myself. I’m unbuckling the belt and loosening the idea tied up to what it means to be a person, or what it means to be me.
title from: Epic, a song by Faith No More that I may have listened to roughly twelve thousand times in the last few days. This live version is amaaaazing. I just love this song so much. I am okay with this. I am not okay with how great the song is though. How dare it!
Sick, an EP from Allison Stone. She is wonderful and it is wonderful, okay?
Shades, I’ll Be Around. This is from…1996? And still goes off.
next time: hopefully I will cook something in the next like, six months – whatever it is, it’s all yours.