Monday, January 4, 2010

Another New Year. Another New Year's Resolution. Bring On The Potatoes Au Gratin.

Yes.  I have a calendar.  An up-to-date one, at that.  But like so many stay-at-home-moms, my “New Year’ didn’t begin until today – the day the kids returned to school.  And holy educational system, Batman – this was one rocky day.  Cranky, tired, disorganized and unfocused.  And I’m guessing the kids’ day wasn’t much better.

I’m sheerly overwhelmed by the “things to be done” – the undecorating, the clutter-clearing, the return-to-schedule.  Not to mention, of course, the “New Year’s Resolutions.”  (Seriously, am I the only one who imagines that bellowed in a deep, echoing, theatrical voice?)

According to USA.gov (whose slogan, “Government Made Easy” makes them a wee bit suspect), the most popular New Year’s resolutions are:

Lose weight
Manage debt
Save money
Get a better job
Get fit
Get a better education
Drink less alcohol

Hmm.  Plainly, I don’t need to draft my own list, because that one is pretty much on target.  Check, check, check, check, check, check and -- sigh --  check (except for sangria, natch).

Post-holiday time is already rife with “things to do.”  Do we really need to add to that list just because yet another 12-month period has begun?

Besides, in some ways, I began my own “new” year several months back when I became divorced.  I’ve got plenty on my plate – plenty that no one would ever want to see itemized.  Like, “call school to explain change in marital status.”  Or, “find reasonable health insurance as unemployed homemaker.”  Or how about, “learn to recognize when you’re being hit on.  And not."

Honest.  It’s harder than you'd think.

Nevertheless, I do have my own list of “good intentions” for 2010, and perversely, most of them coincide with the items listed on USA.gov.  Turns out, I’m just another common citizen.

But given the rocky start to my own New Year, I’m going to ease in.  I did go to the Y today (check, “get fit”) and I did not drink sangria tonight (check, “drink less alcohol”), and I even considered spending the next month as a vegetarian.

The following recipe, however, probably won’t help me accomplish that top goal, “lose weight.”  But holy potato, Batman, it is so very good and easy – and makes for a much easier return home from that first day back to school.

Simply Sublime (and Sublimely Simple) Potatoes Au Gratin
It's hard to believe that something so decadent is so simple to make.  You can dress these up, I suppose, using fresh thyme or minced garlic or half gruyere and half parmigiano-reggiano.  A little zip of cayenne wouldn't be out of place either, but basically, all you need is butter, potatoes, cheese and cream.  Yum.

2 tablespoons butter
3 medium sized baking potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
1 cup (about ¼ lb.) gruyere cheese, grated
1 cup cream
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
½ teaspoon ground thyme

Preheat oven to 350.  Use 1 tablespoon butter to grease bottom of medium sized baking dish.  Place one layer of potatoes (not overlapping) on bottom of dish.  Top with 1/3 cup cheese.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, thyme (and, if you’re feeling fancy, 1 minced clove garlic).  Repeat layering (except for thyme and garlic) two more times.  Pour cream over all, and bake for 1 hour, until browned and bubbling.  Remove from oven and let rest 15-20 minutes before serving.  Eat extravagantly.  No need for meat.
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