Answer: 42. Yes, I know that 42 is the ultimate answer to the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. But it is also the number of ways that I can cook potatoes. And apples. There were apple trees in my yard growing up. And at my brother's house across the street. We had more apples than we knew what to do with. I'm like Bubba in Forrest Gump - talking about all of the different ways he could cook shrimp. If you replace the word "shrimp" with "apples" that would be me during high school. But I'm getting off the point. We were talking about potatoes.
Knowing 42 different ways to cook a potato can come in handy. From the time that I moved out of my folks' house in the fall of '99 through early '03 when Bekah and I got married, potatoes were one of the main ingredients in my diet. Mashed, smashed, and hashed (I know of at least 5 different varieties of hash browns). Sliced, diced, chopped, peeled, and cubed. Baked, pan fried, deep fried, barbecued, and eaten raw. Name it. I can cook a fierce potato.
But in my single and independent years, the official mascot of Idaho wasn't the only thing I ate. There were three things that were staples at my house. (four things if you include the crisscut fries from Sharies... smothered with cheese, chives, and bacon... with a side of ranch. But that kinda fits in the 'spud' category, and it technically wasn't at my house.)
My three staple foods:
1. The aforementioned potatoes.
3. Nachos (speaking of Nachos... I have two funny stories about nachos. One that is funny in an embarrassing way and the other is funny in a you had to be there kind of way. I may post a blog about one of those two stories. I'll let you guess which one sees the light of day.)
The upside of such a limited menu is that it made grocery shopping easy. "10 pound sack of potatoes? Check. Pasta? Check. Meat? Check. Cheese? Check. Sauce? Check. Tortilla chips? Check. More cheese? Check. Oooh... Mountain Dew is on sale!"
And the downside? Well... I can't really think of a downside. It might not be healthy, but neither is eating nothing but Subway for a year and look how that turned out for Jared Fogle.
For three and a half years, that is what I ate. Nachos, spaghetti, and potatoes cooked 42 different ways. (although I must admit, it was more like 39 different ways back then... I've learned a few new methods from my wife.)
Why do I bring this up now? With JJ in the hospital, and Bekah staying there with our wee one, I find myself reverting back to my cooking skills of yesteryear. As I make mac & cheese for my older two kids... I make myself a plate of nachos. Tomorrow, I plan on something involving potatoes and a skillet (hopefully the kids will like it).