My great grandmother named my maternal grandmother, Mallie Ernestine. Family lore tells us my great grandfather gasped, “Mallie Ernestine?” Then he looked down at his newborn daughter and said, “Think I’ll call her Fat.”
Thus began the nicknaming tradition. My grandmother had five sisters, each with their own nickname – Boose, Fiddle, Hun, Bug and Nick. Then there were three boys who for some reason were exempt from the tradition.
The point here is not whether my great grandfather was nippin’ the Sunday sherry. The point is my grandmother’s Swiss/German heritage was clearly imprinted upon her palate; she loved her sauerkraut and sausage. She made her own kraut, at home, in a crock jar, and no one in our family has or knows the recipe she would have learned from her mother. No one, it’s just gone. Big loss in my mind considering I can still smell it cooking.
As a result, in 1986 my wife (stop calling her Stella) and I published a cookbook. The idea was to preserve those recipes we loved as kids. Recipes we had no clue how to prepare and, with family, loved ones and friends getting older, it became apparent we needed to get this stuff written down or it too would be lost.
We titled our cookbook, Family and Friends, and everyone who participated got a copy for the December holidays. I say December holidays now because I don’t know what else to call it. As I child I would have said, Christmas, but today our family is multi-cultural. We’re Christian, Jew, Buddhist, agnostic, pantheist and poor old Uncle Walter is just confused, constantly, about one thing or another all the damn time.
This is the stuff of America. This is the stuff of our family and friends and the below breakfast recipe for Cast Iron Potato Pancakes was inspired by Tilly Silverman’s recipe for Classic Potato Latkes in our original, Family and Friends Cookbook. Tilly had you frying lots of little latkes, and in the beginning I did that but quickly got tired of standing there flipping those little suckers when “golden brown” and tossing them into a pan in the oven to keep warm. So, I made a change
Being a man and somewhat lazy by nature I knew the solution was the good ol’ cast iron skillet. The cast iron skillet however was not for frying, it was for baking and it’s not that I don’t dig the fat but, frankly, I don’t dig the fat. I don’t want or need a cholesterol problem, I know people who have cholesterol problems and they’ve told me, “You don’t want one”, so I’m going with that.
This is a really great breakfast recipe, we make it vegetarian but you can add anything that butters your biscuit. If you enjoy them half as much as we do, you’ll really enjoy them.
Cast Iron Potato Pancakes
Prep Time: About 10:00
Cooking Time: 30:00
What you need:
A Cutting Board
Sharp Knife or Cleaver
A 10” Cast Iron Skillet
A Small Saucepan
2 Medium Waxy Potatoes
3 Medium Eggs
1 cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 tsp Sage
1 tsp Onion Powder
½ tsp Garlic Powder
¼ Cup Organic Textured Soy Protein Granules or use the meat of your choice
2 TBS Chopped Chives
Salt and Black Pepper to taste
Draw enough water into the saucepan and bring to a boil. Carefully drop the potatoes into the water and boil for 10:00. When done remove the potatoes from the water and allow them to cool. When cool enough to handle, grate the potatoes.
While the potatoes are cooling, add a quarter cup of boiling water to a quarter cup of the soy protein granules and mix together. The soy granules will absorb the water.
Wait a few minutes for the soy to cool then add the eggs, sage, onion and garlic powder, and mix well. Fold in the cheese and potatoes, mixing well.
Grease your cast iron pan with olive oil. When well coated add the potato mixture and smooth, topping with additional cheese and sprinkle with chives
Bake at 30:00 at 350 degrees.
Allow the pan to cool briefly before cutting into fourths.