Fast food, woodstove-style

I used my French chef's knife as if its point were hinged to the wooden cutting board and cut slices almost thin enough to see through. One potato, two potato, three potato, four.

I wiped the top of our wood-fired cook stove clean and put the potato slices on it. The surface of the stove was so hot, the slices seared dry instantly and did not stick.

I picked up a spatula and flipped the slices. As soon as I'd turned them all, I started at the beginning and moved the crisp browned circles to a plate. I told my family, "Hot potato chips, right now."

Four of us gathered, and we emptied the plate almost as rapidly as I had filled it.

Juniper said, "Make more," and everyone voted, "Yes. Do."

So the knife flashed again in the winter sun that shone over deep snow on the meadow and into the south kitchen window. I like to think that this is how potato chips began, and one of our rewards for having a wood-fired stove was salt-free, oil-free, delicious hot potato chips whenever we wanted them.

All winter long, whatever else it did, the stove kept the kitchen of our old heat-leaking house warm in the Oregon mountain valley, where 40 degrees below zero F. was not uncommon. And all winter, it was available whenever anyone asked, "How about hot potato chips?"

And we'd stand around the stove or sit at the kitchen table while snow fell or the sun shone or the moon glowed, and we'd eat potato chips almost as fast as we could cook them.

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