I hold a pocket of memories close to my heart, and I had to reach in deep to pull this one out. It was summertime 1980 and my Tia (Aunt) and Tio (Uncle) took myself and a few of my cousins on a camping trip to Sequoia. We went on many adventures as a family, but this one in particular reeks of embarrassment. I remember the trip there being a long haul up winding mountains, and riding inside the camper laying on the flat bed high up top looking out the long rectangle window as little bugs got splattered against the glass. Many hours later we found our spot and settled in nestled amongst towering trees. A few tents were pitched for the adults and us kids claimed our beds inside the camper. Once night fell upon us the stars filled the sky, some shining bright twinkling to catch our eye, and some a bit bashful they scurried away in shooting fashion only to disappear.
Instead of lighting a bon fire and roasting marshmallows the park ranger had informed us of a cartoon viewing that night at the Lodgepole. Us kids were thrilled and squirmed in our seats through dinner anticipating the fun that awaited our animated pleasure. The Lodgepole was an open space with long logs made for seating and a big white drop screen hung from two trees on either side. We ran to find our seats with bags of salted peanuts mixed with raisins in hand. I sat next to the park ranger with the rest of my cousins and family in the aisle behind me. The screen started to flicker with a projection of Tom and Jerry cartoons. I munched on my snack concentrating on the cat and mouse before me. The evening was going splendid until I felt a bit of gas building up in my belly. I thought to myself “Could it be the peanuts and raisins? Should I let out a fart here? No one will hear it, the sound is too loud.” I released an almost silent fart and thought I had gotten away with a BIG scheme. Two seconds later I was engulfed in the most hideous stench. The park ranger turned and looked at me and said in the loudest voice he owned “Did you just fart?” I shook my head back and forth with an expression that read disbelief that he was asking me that question and blurted out “No.” He raised one eyebrow and crinkled up his nose in disgust and said “YES you did LIAR, and it smells.” I was so mortified, my instincts told me to run deep into the pitch black forest and pass from sight like a faded star. Instead I sat there turning every shade of shame shrinking smaller and smaller in my seat. Of course it didn’t end there…. all the kids around me start squealing saying “Eew!”
The next morning I laid in bed covers pulled over my head reeling from humiliation. I just wanted to go home. My Aunt was up making breakfast and it smelled so inviting. I could hear the sizzle of bacon and the shell of eggs breaking. Then a hand came, pulled back my blanket, and rubbed my hair. The hand was accompanied by a loving voice that belonged to my Tia. She said “Get up Mija, I’m making potato-bacon fritters and eggs.” And just like that the magic of delicious food made everything better than fine. Forgotten even.
All food photos taken by: Nicole Presley
Here’s a photo of me and my cousins standing in front of the truck/camper before we left on our road trip. From left to right. Myself, Scott, Mando, Yvette, and Shrimp.
This recipe will make 16 fritters
Ingredients for fritters:
3 – cups mashed Idaho potatoes (a day/or a few days old and cold)
1 – cup sharp cheddar cheese cubes (I use Tillamook)
1 – package of bacon (fried, and crumbled)
1/2 – cup roasted pasilla chile (skinned, deseeded, and cut into small cubes)
1 – egg
1/8 – cup corn starch
1/2 – cup flour
1/2 – bread crumbs or corn meal
1/2 – teaspoon Lawry’s
1/2 – teaspoon black pepper
In a big bowl add mashed Idaho potatoes, sharp cheddar cheese, bacon, and pasilla chile. Mix well with hands.
In a container mix cornstarch, flour, bread crumbs, Lawry’s, and black pepper. Set to the side. In a small bowl mix egg then dip one patty at a time. Then take patty and dip into flour mixture. Repeat with next patty till done.
In a large frying pan add 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil over a medium flame. Allow oil to get hot, then add coated patties. Fry on each side for 2 -3 minutes or until golden brown. You will need to fry the patties in batches, using more oil each time.
Once cooked remove from pan and serve. I like to add sour cream to the top and a fried egg on the side. That’s it…you’re done.
How to make the mashed Idaho potatoes:
3 – large Idaho potatoes (Peeled and cut into 8 pieces)
1 – tablespoon minced garlic
1 – stick of butter
8 – large mushrooms (chopped)
1/2 – cup whipping cream
2 – tablespoons chopped green onion
salt and pepper to taste
Peel and boil pieces of Idaho potatoes for 20 minutes or until a fork can pierce through. Drain and place in a bowl and mash with a hand masher. Then in a frying pan place 2 tablespoons of butter with mushrooms and garlic and let saute for 5 minutes, then add the rest of the stick of butter to melt. Pour the butter garlic mushroom saute into the mashed potatoes along with the whipping cream and the chopped green onion, and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Mashed Idaho Potato Tip: Will taste better if made a few days ahead of time and placed in the fridge. They will hold better too if cold when making this recipe.
How to make the roasted pasilla chile:
1 – pasilla chile
1/2 – teaspoon of vegetable oil
Pour 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil in a small dish, with a pastry brush generously brush pasilla chiles with olive oil to coat. Then place oil coated pasilla chile on an open medium high flame. Burn the skin of the entire chile. It will take about 5 to 7 minutes to char.
Once chile is completely charred, place it in an air tight ziplock bag for 1 hour. This step will allow chile to steam in it’s own heat and will make peeling charred skin off much easier. It’s an essential step.
Once chile has steamed, remove from ziplock and place under a stream of water from faucet. With your fingers slowly and carefully peel charred skin off of chile, until all burned skin is removed.
Then discard stem and seeds inside. Cut into long strips, then dice into small squares.
How to make the bacon:
1 – package of bacon
Take a slab of bacon and cut into 4 sections.
Once cooked set on a paper towel lined plate and allow to cool before crumbling a little bit smaller.
Enjoy these fritters. I sometimes make them for dinner and serve with a piece of fish.