I was 9 when my future was sealed. I found a stack of discarded American Home magazines in a neighbor’s trash. I brought them home to examine them, because until then the only magazine I knew was Reader’s Digest.
American Home, which merged with Redbook in 1977, didn’t have a page of jokes, but it was filled with recipes and accompanying pictures. I don’t think I’d ever seen a real recipe before since I didn’t pay attention to what my mother did when she disappeared into the kitchen.
My grandmother also cooked, but whenever I visited her I was more interested in her ice box. It actually had a big block of ice sitting on the top. This, of course, was the Dark Ages. I vaguely remember that one day the whole contraption was gone and a shiny new fridge had taken its place.
My grandmother’s repertoire was mostly boiled chicken, boiled vegetables, boiled potatoes and noodle pudding, which I’m pretty sure involved boiled noodles. I still have one of her big pots, in which I boil my own noodles.
Needless to say, none of the dishes photographed in American Home looked even vaguely familiar to me. As I clipped out the recipes and stored them in a little wooden box, I was determined that one day I would make them.
A dozen years passed before I opened up that box and picked out a recipe to try. I can’t remember what it was or how it came out, but it was the beginning of my love of cooking. I still have the box, and a few of those recipes still look appealing. Also in that box I found my grandmother’s vintage Potato Kugel recipe. I tried it last night, and it was surprisingly good.
Potato Kugel – serves 4 as a side dish
2 tablespoons butter1 large onion, grated2 large eggs4 medium potatoes, grated1/2 cup flour1 teaspoon baking powder1 teaspoon salt1/4 teaspoon black pepper2 teaspoons olive or canola oil (divided use)
Begin heating the oven to 350 degrees.
Heat the butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the grated onion, turn down the heat to medium and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the onions get very soft and begin to brown. Turn off the heat and set aside.
Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Add the grated potatoes and mix so they are well coated. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and black pepper and mix thoroughly. Stir in the cooked onions.
Add 1 teaspoon oil to a 1-quart casserole dish and spread it around the bottom and sides with a paper towel. Transfer the onion/potato mixture to the casserole. Drizzle 1 teaspoon oil onto the top and bake, covered, for about 1 hour, or until the edges of the potato kugel begin to get brown and crispy. Serve immediately.For more recipes, order "Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen!"