Sometimes our marriage goes like this:
Liz: Eric! Somethings wrong with our fridge! It’s not shutting tightly!
Eric: Hmm. What do you think the problem is?
Liz (speaking in panicked run-on sentences): Well, the door keeps hitting the light-shutting off-lever-thing and pushing it up instead of down unless I lift up the door before shutting it but I keep forgetting to do that and coming back a half hour later to see the door not shut all the way and the light is still on.
Eric (calm; looking at the door, hinges, lifting, pushing): Have you tried taking some things out of the door? Maybe it’s too weighed down.
Liz: That can’t be it. Why would that start happening all of the sudden?
Intermission: Life takes over for three days: babies are taken outside to play, dishes are dirtied then done, freelance projects completed, documentaries watched.
(…later that same week)
Liz: Eric! The door still won’t shut! We HAVE to fix this! Tonight! There’s meat in there.
Eric: Have we tried taking stuff out of the door yet?
Liz: No, because…ohmygosh is that poop on Owen’s foot?
Intermission: there is poop on the floor, bleach and paper towels, and then it is dinner, dishes, bath, and jammies, sweeping, emails answered, and it’s dark now.
(…later that same night)
Liz: Okay! I googled “why won’t my fridge door stay shut?” I’m seeing tips about door gaskets? Where is the door gasket? Ooh! And here’s something about leveling the feet of the fridge.
Eric: Liz, it’s 11:00. We can figure it out tomorrow.
(…the next day)
Liz: Hey Eric! I think the door is fixed. It’s shutting tightly every time. The light’s turning off and everything.
Eric: Nice, what did you do?
Liz: I took some stuff out the door.
This is but one example of hundreds in which my initial reaction is urgent panic, and Eric remains calm. My days lately have been so beautifully full; full of keeping Owen from plunging to his death off the top of the couch, full of crossing task upon spacial-organization task off my list so that four of us will happily fit in this house come January, full of cooking and friends and sweating and pools and planning trips. And so, dinners lately have been old standbys. Ones that I can mostly make from memory. Because sometimes you need something you can make with your eyes shut.
And that is this potato casserole to me. Seven ingredients. Five minutes of prep time. Frozen potatoes? I know. This is kind of an outcry in the midst of all of these recipes that make the most of summer’s bounty. But this casserole? It’s comfort food at its finest in the winter, and also your best friend at a summer picnic, piled on a plate next to burgers and a fruit salad. Before your summer runs out or before you go crazy because you’ve spent all day organizing the bookshelf that your one-year-old just destroyed, make this for dinner tonight, and take the time you saved making dinner to sit down, breathe, and not panic.
(recipe by Carpé Season - thanks, Mom!)
(yields one 8x8" pan, easily multiplied)
This simple casserole is so easy to assemble and is the perfect summer picnic side dish as well as a great comfort food in winter.
16 oz. frozen hash browns (cubes)
8 oz. sour cream
1 c. shredded sharp cheddar
1/2 of a (10.75 oz) can cream of chicken soup
1/2 stick or 2 oz. butter, softened
1/4 c. shredded parmesan cheese
black pepper to taste
(optional: chopped green onions or chives as garnish)
Preheat oven to 350*. Spray your 8x8" pan with cooking spray.
Thoroughly mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
Spoon into prepared pan, pressing down with back of spoon to flatten surface.
Bake for 90 minutes until casserole is bubbling and starting to brown on top.
Allow to cool and set for about 10 minutes before serving.
I like to garnish each serving with a a few chopped green onions.