Friday, January 10, 2014

I'll do it for potatoes

I love Bratkartoffeln. Ok, maybe not love, but they are one of my very favorite side dishes. Sometimes I plan our main course based on what goes well with Bratkartoffeln because we haven't had them in several days. Sometimes they ARE the main course.

The dish to the right is Bratkartoffeln Tiroler Art (Fried Potatoes Tirolean style). The potatoes are boiled first and then sliced, and fried with diced onions. For the Tiroler Art, we add whatever we find in our fridge: mushrooms, leftover pork tenderloin, bacon, basil, and tomatoes. Leave out the pork and add a fried or scrambled egg, and you have a Bauernfrühstück (Farmer's Breakfast).

I screwed up this simple dish often enough in the beginning, but when we had a Kochkurs (cooking class) at our favorite local restaurant, the chef gave us some great tips to get it right every time. I still can't beat his Bratkartoffeln, but I'm not trying to.

One of the tips the chef gave us was to check out the Sautter Kartoffelhof (potato farm) in Bondorf, a village 13,5 km (ca. 8 miles; 15 minutes by car) from us. They have a little store in their barn where one can buy just about any kind of potato that exists, as well as vacuum-sealed cooked and peeled potatoes and potato salad made fresh that morning. Martin and I have driven there twice together and are very happy with the cooked & peeled potatoes for our Bratkartoffeln. Just open the bag, run 1/3 of them through the potato slicer, and fry them with onions. Otherwise we have to boil the potatoes the day before, and we don't always plan that far ahead. This is quite a convenience.

However, the Kartoffelhof is only open in the mornings. Martin is at the office in the mornings. He did take an hour off one morning the first time we drove there, and the second time we stopped on the way back from an appointment. But he can't keep taking time off from work to buy potatoes. Today I decided it was time to put on the big girl pants and drive there myself.

"Big deal!", you say. "Eight miles? 15 minutes?" If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know how deathly afraid I am of driving here. Narrow winding roads one must share with semis and buses, a relatively big car, the awareness of the possibility that Death is waiting around every corner and curve in the form of an impatient Audi driver overtaking a line of trucks, and all that...  There are three places I drive to comfortably enough: the grocery store, the school where I teach the Englisch-AG, and the Bahnhof in Horb (train station). I did drive one other time, with Martin in the car, to the gas station where he fills our tank, but he drove back. Until today I had not driven more than 3 miles alone.

My mom snapped this picture of me driving through Horb one day last year. Is that a look of mortal fear, or deep concentration? I was driving my parents to the Bahnhof, and the rule in the car was "NO talking!"

The 8-mile trek to the Kartoffelhof involves three Ortsdurchfahrten (the main road through a town), a Bundesstraße (state highway), two small residential areas, and a back road behind a farm. I'm still not used to the "links vor rechts" rule, so I have to consciously remind myself of it when I'm not on a main road. Speed limits are still guesswork for me at times, so I have to keep my eyes peeled for signs. I still love the "the speed limit is no longer 50 km/h" signs. "That's great. Mind telling me what it IS??"

This morning I decided to get in the car and go before thinking about it too much. I've chickened out several times before, but the weekend is near, and I wanted some potatoes! I decided the life-and-death gamble of driving on German roads was worth it. Unsurprisingly, it ended up being no big deal. There wasn't a lot of traffic on the roads, and I didn't take any wrong turns. There were no near accidents, the roads were dry, and no Audi drivers were climbing up my tailpipe trying to push me to go faster. I was so proud of myself I had to set aside some work that has been piling up and blog about my accomplishment!

So I'll drive on the narrow curvy highway and through two towns - reminding myself out loud to "yield to drivers from the right!" - just so I don't have to boil and peel my own potatoes.  Whatever works, I guess. At least I got out there, tackled another driving milestone, and survived to tell about it.

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