Sausage, Pepper, and Onion Hash Browns

On Sunday, Husband and I were coming home and ravenous for lunch; I knew I wanted something pretty wholesome but I also had two leftover cheddar bratwurst that I wanted to use. I decided it was time for some home-made hash browns.

I prefer the Waffle House variety of hash browns when making them at home – sure, the little nuggets of deep-fried goodness you can get at most fast-food breakfasts are wonderful, but those are quite hard to replicate without special equipment. As it is, I just grated two big potatoes and an onion and set the shavings on paper towels to wick away some moisture. Ideal world, you’d do this a couple hours early, I think, but I wasn’t patient (hence the clumpiness of the pictured hash browns).

In a big frying pan, I placed a tablespoon of butter and the onion and potato shavings. While it heated up and the potatoes started to brown, I alternated between stirring and chopping: I chopped up the bratwurst and then also diced a big green pepper, which I cooked separately to avoid adding even more moisture to the delicate frying hash browns. IMG_4900.JPG

When the onions and potatoes were starting to get some color on them, I moved them to half the pan and added the cheddarwurst. I knew the cheese would eke out of them, but I didn’t mind because crispy fried cheese bits would be flavorful. I seasoned the whole mess while they got browned separately, and then mixed it all together. I cracked pepper and added a twinge of parmesan to the green peppers, which gave them a bit of a crust.

In the end, I just threw everything together and Husband and I wolfed it down on the back porch. I realized, as I ate, that it would make a very nice, very simple freezer meal: if there was time to let all the chopped ingredients evaporate for a few hours, then just bag them up, you would have instant, waffle-house-style hashbrowns, which weren’t even exceptionally oily! Obviously, since this is basically just a stirfry with potatoes in it, you have infinite options for subbing out things you don’t like, which I always enjoy.

Growing Food versus Solar Cells… Investing in Sustainable Living

This year’s produce isn’t all in, but it’s really not too shabby:

  • a huge pile of basil, thrown into every pasta dish this season.
  • sprigs of cilantro here and there
  • enough strawberries for a cobbler and one tiny pot of jam
  • a big bag of potatoes (maybe 8 or 9 pounds?)
  • 7 butternut squash of between 2 and 5 pounds each (and some tiny ones that might yet beef up)
  • 15 or 20 pounds of tomatoes, eaten by us constantly while also being given away and frozen for canning experiment.
  • a dozen salads worth of greens.
  • One lonely green bell pepper (we’ve still got green plants, though, so maybe they’ll flower in September. We had some great pepper plants last year in September, the only 2015 crops at the house).

While quite wonderful for my brown-thumb, this isn’t much compared to the total food that I eat, or that Husband and I eat combined. However, I saw a comment the other day on a blog that basically pointed out that the impact of growing your own food, even a little, is much higher than getting solar cells or other alternative fuels for your house. I have often been seduced by the thought of solar cells, wondering if we’d ever have sunny enough days that we’d be “selling back” energy to the grid. But thousands and thousands of dollars have always made me forget that idea, no matter now much subsidy the government might give for such cells.

On the other hand, if I think about how much energy goes into planting, fertilizing, growing, harvesting, and transporting my produce, how much effort and care goes into making sure it isn’t bruised (and how many peppers are bruised and thrown away, or thrown away for not being pretty), I realize that gardening does make a difference: while there was fossil fuel energy to transport the bags of compost that we use to enrich the soil, the lone pepper to emerge from my garden didn’t require nearly as much fossil fuel, total, as the ones in the grocery store. I can’t calculate the difference (and we’re probably talking pennies of worth, really), but every bite is something.

I’m also heartened as I look to a future season, where I’ll learn from my mistakes, and maybe grow more food or be able to harvest it better. It’s an effort to do something fun with my hands and something kind of magical with my backyard, but it’s also just a little more sustainable than buying elsewhere… (or at least it is trying to be!) It’s only little impacts, but those can be really good for one’s mind and heart.