Growing-up in Minnesota, I took rhubarb for granted.
My folks weren’t really into it. Rhubarb was this mysterious, sour pink stalky plant we dared each other to eat as kids. Jake remembers dipping it into sugar. As a young adult, I remember catering an event where the people ate all of the other summer pies except the rhubarb. The rhubarb slices came back to the kitchen where we happily enjoyed them.
I realized they were fools.
No one in my family is Finnish but we grew up eating Finnish Oven Pancakes nearly every week.
My mom got this recipe from my Godmother, with whom she exchanged many other recipes that became family staples.
“I know why my mom made Finnish Oven Pancakes so often,” I thought as I prepared one for the second time this week. They’re easy to make, only require a few ingredients, and taste like a humble feast.
Every time we move, I lose my recipe binder and rejoice upon finding it again.
The binder’s not fancy. It’s a tattered, spiral-ring binder overflowing with recipes I’ve collected since college. Some of the recipes are photocopies of my mom’s cookbooks or library books. Others are packets I’ve collected from cooking classes. A few recipes are from friends who actually hand wrote them on recipe cards, while others are clippings from old Star Tribune Taste sections.
According to the time stamp on my recipe, I printed it February of 2007. At this time, I was finishing my senior year of college where I lived in a house with a group of friends. We were in the midst of planning a party to welcome our housemate back from Mali. Looking back, I must have searched online for West African recipes and chosen this stew.
I shared a lot of photos on Instagram since Christmas, but the one that received the most love featured potatoes.
Party potatoes, Funeral potatoes, Football potatoes, Pittsburgh potatoes, Crunchy potatoes, Corn Flake potatoes, and, my personal favorite, Cheesy Potatoes. This casserole goes by many names which really suggests that there is no bad time to make these potatoes.
This casserole makes an appearance at every one of our family’s holiday meals. My mom used to be the bearer of the party potatoes. I remember popping bags of frozen has browns and dumping them into our big, plastic popcorn bowl. The potatoes, sour cream, cheese, and cream of chicken soup created such a thick mass, that I always handed the spoon over to mom to finish mixing. My Godmother’s taken over the honors.
Post-election, as I move forward this year into 2017, I’m going to more intentionally to support business and community leaders who speak out against the injustices and hate incidences impacting people in their communities.
The other week, I felt compelled to pay Penzeys Spices a little visit. Not only as a small gesture of appreciation to Bill Penzey for speaking out against racism and sexism, but because Penzeys Spices are really, really good. In a December Facebook update, Penzey ends with, “The kindness of cooks makes a great bedtime story.” Sure, some people are mad, but most of the comments share stories about cooking and community.