Breakfast Potatoes

On weekday mornings I get up ridiculously early, shuffle into the kitchen, and turn on the water. First I fill the electric kettle, which in conjunction with the French Press will help provide life-giving coffee. Then I fill a saucepan and put in a few Finnish potatoes. The pan goes on the burner, and once the water begins to boil I take off the heat and put a lid on it. That’s the start of breakfast potatoes.

I can forget about things for a while, which means I usually go to check my email and look over my to-do list for the day. When my wife Katie wakes up I put the kettle back on, and because it’s stainless steel and I already ran it earlier it only takes a minute. I make the coffee and ask Katie how she slept. While the coffee steeps in the press I’ll put a little butter and a little oil in a pan, and slice up those par-boiled potatoes.

Using both butter and oil is important. You need a hot burner to fry the potatoes, and butter has a low smoke point. It burns too easily. Canola oil, what squeamish Americans call rapeseed oil, has a higher smoke point but lacks that butter flavor. I lay the slice of potato down, pour the coffee, then crack some eggs into a bowl and whisk them.

The potatoes are usually ready to be turned, because it only takes a couple of minute to brown them. If I want to add some diced onion, I though them in so they have a chance to cook but not get burnt. Once the potatoes have got a nice color on both sides, I fish them out and put them on a towel to drain some of the butter and oil. I usually just season them with a little salt and pepper, but I might use smoked paprika, garlic salt, some cumin, or some rosemary depending on my mood.

I turn the burner off and pour in the eggs. There’s enough heat, and enough butter and oil coating the pan, to scramble them. I stir them with the whisk, when they’re done I plate them and the potatoes. Katie likes here eggs more well-done than me. I like them a little runny, she need them completely firm. She’s got traumatic childhood experiences with runny eggs.

Making breakfast is a ritual, as is enjoying it with Katie. Sometimes it’s the only time we get to sit down together and talk. She goes off to academia or creating art. I disappear back into the kitchen, which doubles as my office, to write. We’ve got caffeine and protein and carbs to carry us through.

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