In spite of owning many lovely cookbooks, most of my everyday cooking is drawn from my forty-year collection of personal recipes. Some of my recipes are neatly typed on index cards and others are hand-written by the good cook themselves; but most are in my or my husband’s hand — from the barely legible, scrawled on handy slips of scrap paper from busy days of four children at home—to those carefully preserved on notebook paper in early school-girl cursive.
These recipes are not only a source of good life in the present but they also keep my past alive. To see a recipe is to see the friend or family member who shared it, even when distance and death separate us. When I make egg noodles, I remember Granny and her helpful hint– “Cut them nice and thin now, Jan.” When I make hash-browns, I remember Mom and all those wonderful breakfasts she and Daddy cooked together. When I make Dilly Spoon Rolls, I think of Betty and how my husband came home from a church dinner bragging about Betty’s cooking. And as ironic as it is, when I make a brisket, I give thanks that my friend Laure wasn’t always vegetarian.
I don’t imagine I’ll ever get around to organizing my recipes into a family cookbook. But I thought it might be fun to begin sharing them in a regular Friday post. Sort of like Monday, Wash Day; Tuesday, Ironing… Friday, Recipe Day. For now anyway. We’ll see how it goes.
Today’s recipe comes from Carol Sampson, an interior designer I worked with in Lake Jackson. One day Carol and I were sitting at my big kitchen island working on my kitchen redesign. And I looked at Carol and said, “Carol, what’s your favorite family recipe.” And without any hesitation, she began describing this polish dish that her mom use to make when Carol was growing up in Wisconsin. The recipe didn’t have a name, so I christened it “Polish Stir-Fry”. It’s a no frills dish, from a woman who came to love frills, and even shared them with HGTV television viewers on one of my mother’s favorite shows, Design on a Dime. The kitchen redesign is no longer mine. But thank goodness Carol’s recipe is.
(Serves 2 – 10 mins prep, 30 mins cooking time)Ingredients: 1 lb. Polish Kielbasa 2 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced in rounds 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped 2 garlic cloves, minced Salt and Pepper to taste (I use about 1/2 tsp. of salt per potato) Canola or Olive Oil Pre-cook Sausage over medium heat (15 mins) In medium saucepan, boil sausage in water to remove some of the fat. Drain and cut into bite-size portions. Cook Onion & Garlic over low heat (6 mins) In a large skillet, heat 2 T. oil. Saute onion until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Stir often to keep garlic from browning. Take up onion and garlic and place on a plate. Cook Potatoes over medium heat (20 mins) In same skillet, heat 2 T. oil. Add potatoes, season and brush top layer lightly with 1 T. oil. Cover and cook. Avoid turning potatoes but occasionally lift up a few potatoes to ensure they do not over-brown. Half-way through cooking time, turn potatoes with a spatula. Combine, simmer and serve When potatoes are done (test for doneness with a fork), add onion/garlic mixture and sausages. Lower heat to simmer and let flavors blend for 5 mins. Serve with toast.