What’s Cookin’ at Callie’s Cabin | Hot Baked Potatoes ‘n’ Toppings
Special to the Tribune
Last week I woke up early Wednesday morning after a late night of shoveling wet snow. When I turned on the TV it hit me – I am not immune to being de-plugged from the world. A power outage hit home. First, instead of sipping a cup of fresh, brewed coffee, I resorted to the instant stuff, thanks to a gas stove. Without access to my computer, I got my first news report from a neighbor walking her dog.
“The power will be out for days,” she shouted.
I tuned out her warning and hoped for the best. In the early afternoon I slid into survival mode and prepared for the worst.
First, I buried my premium, organic milk, yogurt, eggs, and other perishables in the snow. Honey Nut Cheerios, fresh fruit, chocolate, and chamomile tea were my new friends. As I munched on the granola girl-type foods, I recalled a power outage in graduate school at San Francisco State University during a severe rainstorm and flooding. I also got a flashback of the baked potato bar in the student union – a busy student’s utopia. You would grab a giant baked potato and dress it with a variety of fresh toppings. The memory was a sign for me to turn to the gas stove, bake a potato and use up the fresh butter, cheese and green olives. The decorative tater tasted hot, gooey, and natural as it did back in the day. I felt warm and happy sitting in the candle light by the crackling fire.
On day two, at 8 p.m., electricity was restored (but the cable company, my lifeline to the world, was down until day three). Like a raccoon, I dug up the edible goods – but they were too frozen or off in texture. I took to the saying “When in doubt, throw it out.” I lost $150 worth of fresh food. On the upside, the hot potato feast for one was a sentimental treat during the three-day power outage that affected about 10,000 residents on the South Shore.
Hot Baked Potatoes ‘n’ Toppings
1 large baked potato
1 teaspoon European-style butter
1⁄4 cup cheese, provolone and mozzarella
1 teaspoon dried cranberries
1 teaspoon sliced almonds
2 fresh olives
Spinach leaves (garnish)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash and bake potato. Bake about one hour or microwave 13 minutes. Once done, let cool. Slice top off and prick inside potato to soften. Top with a pat of butter. Add toppings. Warm up again for a few minutes if preferred. Serves one. Or you can make plenty and have a fun Hot Potato ‘n Toppings power outage party. Light candles. Put toppings in bowls, potatoes on a serving platter and let everyone serve themselves.
Next time the lights go out, you, like me, can whip up potatoes also (russet are best and nutritious). Put your creative energy to work and top those potatoes with whatever fresh food you want to use up before it goes bad. In retrospect, the good things were that I had gas heat for cooking and warmth, candles, flashlights, a fire, and a landline phone (which let me know on day one that the ordeal was due to downed wires and trees in power lines). But I squawked too much while going through withdrawal without Lifetime Movie Channel, NOAA, and world news.
Motto: When the power goes out, you can’t control the event. Throw a Hot Potato Party or play sofa spud amid Mother Nature, and chill while tuning out the big, hectic world.
– Cal Orey is an author and journalist. Her books include “The Healing Powers” series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate) published by Kensington. Her website is http://www.calorey.com.