‘Cassie’ my Michigan Mom, was a pretty resourceful, if not amazing cook. More often than not she prepared 3 meals a day for the six kids in our family, me being the oldest. Breakfast every morning for sure…pancakes, eggs, bacon, waffles, french toast, oatmeal…and I’m talking from scratch here….there were no frozen waffles to be found in our freezer.
Next there were the school lunches she packed. This was before there were school cafeterias offering multiple hot meals so the idea of hot lunches wasn’t even on the table, that is, unless you happened to be one of the lucky sons or daughters of Cassie Wilhelm. She used to make hearty soups, chili and stews and pour them into thermoses that would just fit into our cartoon themed, metal lunchboxes. Certainly, many lunch boxes of the day came with matching thermoses but I rarely saw any of my friends with them filled with anything other than cold drinks.
One of her most brilliant ideas was to tie a string around one end of a hot dog, lower it into a thermos filled with boiling water, and place the top back on with the end of the string hanging outside accompanied by a plastic wrapped bun basted with ketchup, mustard and sweet pickle relish. By the time noon rolled around the hot dog was still plenty hot and the condiment filled bun was a moist as it could be.
I remember the reaction I got the first time I opened the thermos and pulled out my ‘hot dog on a string’ in front of a group of dumbstruck, jealous buddies at the school lunch table.
Later, as Cassie became more creative, my thermos full of ‘beans and weenies’ with a large bag of Fritos made them absolutely crazy.
Dinner was always our favorite meal though. Certainly Mom did have a somewhat limited repertoire of favorites that she rotated… I mean, you can’t get too creative when you’re cooking for 7 other mouths each night. (People never believe me when I tell them I wouldn’t eat a green vegetable until I was 18) One thing about her dinners was guaranteed though… there always would be leftovers, especially when she made mashed potatoes.
Her mashed potato pancakes at breakfast were the best. Next time you have a little leftover give this a try.
Recipe – Michigan Mom’s Breakfast Mashed Potato Pancake
» 1-1/2 cups Leftover mashed potatoes
» 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (any cheese works)
» ¼ cup Chopped scallions
» 1 tsp Fresh ground black pepper
» 2 tsp. Fresh thyme leaves, lightly chopped
» 1 TBS. Oil
» 1 TBS. Whole butter (optional)
» 1 each Jumbo egg
» 2 strips Applewood smoked bacon, cooked crispy
Please the potatoes in a medium bowl, add the cheddar, scallions, pepper and thyme and using your hands form them into round patties about ¾” thick. Place olive oil into a non-stick saute pan and, heat medium-high fire until hot. (I like the option of adding butter as it imparts a nuttier flavor to the dish) Once the pan is hot carefully place the pancake into it and cook on medium-high heat until a crispy brown skin forms on the bottom.
First side Seared
Once browned, working quickly but carefully, flip the pancake over and continue to cook for another 2 minutes. The trick here is to cook it on a high enough heat to quickly form a deep brown crust without the pancake turning to mush. Cooking it on the first side is the most important and until you’ve made these a couple times you should peak underneath the pancake with the corner of a spatula to see that it’s formed the crust before flipping as this crust is the best part.
That’s some awesome goodness!