While picking through the fresh potato bin at Foodland, an adjacent display caught my eye. Nonpareil-brand Homestyle Hash Browns in a milk-carton size box. I reached for one and shook it. The dehydrated potatoes rattled like a castanet. The contents of the 4.5-ounce box make a pound of potatoes, said the label, no work involved. Sounded like a deal to me. Sold, for $1.50.
Have a fresh food find? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Half an hour before supper, I opened the box, added a measured amount of hot tap water right into the box and nuked it in the microwave oven for four minutes. I let the box sit on the counter while I set the table, fixed salad and got ready to scramble eggs.
I turned out the now-reconstituted potatoes from the box into a bowl. There was enough for six servings. A supper's worth went into a preheated skillet with olive oil and finished on medium-high. In just a few minutes, the potatoes were browned and crispy with a soft center. They were delicious. Perfect, in fact.
I stirred grated onion and an egg into the remaining potatoes and refrigerated them for another meal as potato pancakes.
Fabulous. No lugging and storing a potato sack, no peeling, no shredding, no mess, no dishes. Shelf life is just short of eternity.
The potatoes are ideal for camping, the dorm or for a vacation condo or cottage. I know I'll serve them at my next brunch. And next call for appetizers, I'll add eggs and seasonings for a Spanish tortilla.
Where was this product when I was raising three always-famished teenaged boys?
In restaurants, that's where. Nonpareil has been serving the food industry since 1946. According to the Web site, the product line includes mashed potatoes, hash browns, and home-style potato casseroles for the food service industry.
The Idaho company makes gallon-size hash browns that would be great for fund-raising breakfasts or family reunions. For details, go to www.buyhashbrowns.com.