The Great Unknown
The frontier spirit that built our great nation represented a common bond among we the people in our collective willingness to face the great unknown. We did not shy away from risk taking, nor did we expect the world to be delivered to our doorstep. Rather we ventured forth, throwing caution to the wind, depending on our own individual strength to carry us through.
We were connected to the real world. Long before the term “be here now” was coined we were there already, feet on the ground and living in the moment. That is not to say those past generations of Americans were not dreamers, indeed we enjoy the many benefits of the dreams they made into reality. But we lost something along the way.
Today we take for granted conveniences and bounty that would have been unimaginable a century or less ago. Virtually every foodstuff is always in season in our globally sourced supermarkets, all promised as fresh. In the dead of winter summer squashes and tender lettuces are displayed in the produce section along with tomatoes and fruits. Yet even if you are among the folks who eschew processed foods and rather cook your meals from the fresh produce, are you really experiencing FRESH food?
We would all surely agree that fresh frozen is not really fresh even if it is better than canned foods. If you take a moment and think about the logistics of moving food from farm to market, it is easy to see that fresh in the produce section could be two weeks old. Two weeks old would be young for storage vegetables like onions or potatoes. I would hazard a guess that most folks have never tasted real fresh potatoes. Oh sure maybe you got some at a farm stand from time to time. But were they picked that day or last week?
Today we have reached the edges of the old frontiers and settled the wilderness. The world for most Americans is sanitized, no more toiling in the dirt busting sod to provide sustenance. Fast food, or slow, few eat what they grow.
So, come with me into the great unknown. I want to share a food experience, not a fancy recipe but something lots of folks eat on a regular basis, yet they don’t know how much better it can be. Home fries! Yes humble breakfast taters. My wife Mary and I are avid organic gardeners. We grow a nice variety of veggies, including Kennebec potatoes. During the garden season we reap the experiences of veggies that are mere minutes from harvest to stovetop. It is well known that fresh corn on the cob picked while the water is already boiling, and immediately shucked, then quickly cooked and eaten is the ultimate corn. You probably have not heard about the joy of potatoes that fresh.
Warm from the sun drenched garden, the earth still moist on them as they arrive at the sink for a quick rinse. The skin was so tender and the flesh moist and crisp under the knife. Nothing fancy, just a bit of butter in the pan and a julienned onion.
Sautéing them in mom’s heirloom cast iron pan adds to the hominess of these fries. I started with a high heat then lowered it once I started to see some browning.
I covered them for the remaining time, stirring every minute or so while I set plates and silverware on the table. Then got the eggs going on a cast iron griddle. From shovel to table in about 15 minutes, the taste and moist tender texture is beyond words. It is simple pleasures like this that makes all the toil of gardening worth every drop of sweat.
Now all I need is a half dozen laying hens so the eggs can be still warm from the henhouse. That is the next great unknown to conquer!