Friday, June 18, 2010

"trace the trail back home"

the food: Potato & Swiss Chard Frittata
the song: "Ocean Walk" Astronautalis*

Vacations are good for several reasons. It is a great privilege and experience to see a new place. It is an excuse to eat only the best food and drink a beer with lunch. Vacations allow you the leisure of walking through the park on a Thursday and the self indulgence of three restaurant meals a day. Vacations are exciting and perk up your imagination. Being somewhere else challenges you to get out of your daily routines and notice how other people live. I love vacations.

Many more pictures to come, I promise. 

What I love almost equally, though, is coming home from a vacation. Those first few days of being back in your town, back at your house. When the husband and I landed from our New York trip, the humidity of a June Austin night was a welcomed feeling (at least for a little while.) I was excited to step foot in our house, greeted by two confused cats and a slightly wilted garden. After a vacation, there's nothing like sleeping in your own bed and using your own shower. And after settling back in, I was able to reap one of the benefits of living in Austin and having lots of space to ourselves. 

Let's take a closer look, shall we?

After traveling across the country, spending a lot of money on food, and eating out three meals a day, my body was craving something simple and wholesome. Truth be told I started fantasizing about the simple meals I was going to cook back in Austin on our last morning in New York. I don't mean to sound ungrateful for the food we ate on quite possibly was some of the best food I've ever eaten, and it is the main reason I look forward to traveling. But it's also good to be home.

Remember my potatoes? Well, as you can see from the picture, they didn't yield a lot (I got this and maybe another half bowl from an earlier harvest.) But after our welcome home meal I'd say they were an absolute success. This was truly a local, once-a-season meal. The potatoes, onion, and swiss chard were grown in our yard. The eggs came from our friend's chickens who live just a couple of miles from us. Eating this meal was a great way to come home, to refocus on our real lives after a week of excess.

I noticed a few things about homegrown potatoes as we ate this dinner. Between "mmmm"s and "oh man!"s, I noticed how naturally buttery and flavorful our homegrowns were. I had to add much less salt and oil than I was expecting. They didn't need much, to tell you the truth. I will be making this frittata again sooner rather than later with store bought potatoes. My guess is that it will be pretty delicious, too.

Potato & Swiss Chard Frittata
adapted from Grow and Joy the Baker

about 4 cups (1 1/2 lb) Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced very thin
1 small onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup swiss chard, thinly sliced 
1-2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
7 eggs
2 tablespoons minced herb of your choice (I used cilantro. Parsley would also be good.)
2 tablespoons milk or cream
salt & pepper
olive oil

Heat a generous splash of olive oil over medium heat in a medium saute pan. Add the onions and garlic and saute until onions soften, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer the onions to an oven safe pan and toss with the raw sliced potatoes. Toss with your hands until all potatoes are well coated with olive oil (add more if needed). Season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. 

Set the potatoes aside to cool for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees F.  

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, herbs, swiss chard, cheese and milk/cream together. Season with salt and pepper.  

Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium high heat. Add another splash of olive oil to the skillet, making sure the side of the cast iron is oiled as well. Add the cooked potatoes to the pan. Top with the egg mixture.  Cover the skillet with foil and bake until the center is solid, about 25-30 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for 5-10 more minutes if needed. 

Slice and serve warm or at room temperature. 


*I don't often go out of my way to recommend music here. There are real music folks out there that can do that. But if you don't already know Astronautalis, seek him out. He's one of the most genuinely talented and nicest guys ever.

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