Monday, December 27, 2010

Idaho Spud Bars...and Priorities

Have you ever noticed that in making hash browns a little pepper goes a long way? Unlike in a white sauce, where you need twice as much pepper as you'd think to even get a little taste of it. I wonder why. Maybe the milk in the white sauce just cancels out the peppery flavor. Potatoes, on the other hand, enhance it. They're like a perfect canvas for a lot of other flavors, including cheeeeese.

Did you hear about that study? There's some kind of endorphin thing that's released in the brain, a chemical that creates a sense of well-being. Of COURSE chocolate triggers it, but not as much as cheese.

One time I was talking with my friend Emily, a.k.a. Super* Homemaker. She told me she'd been pressure canning meat that day. When I asked why, she said it was to make room in her freezer for more important things, like cheese.

I couldn't fault her for that excellent reasoning.

Back to potatoes. They're like candy in a way. In fact, there's even a potato-inspired candy bar. They're kind of hard to find in stores, so not everyone has tried The Idaho Spud Bar. I'm not sure everyone should. It's a big, taupe colored marshmallow covered with a good waxy chocolate (love that waxy chocolate a la Little Debbie) and crispy flaked coconut. But when you bite in, it's, uh, a lot of marshmallow.

Me, I can take it. Give me more of those. 

*More about Super Homemaker. She makes homemade tortillas. With Kindergarteners. She baked a huge loaf of bread for every staff member at the whole school for Christmas. The list goes on. Sigh. She's inspiring.

But she's not busy writing a novel. Those of us busy writing a novel have to prioritize it. We cannot let details like "deep cleaning" get in our way. We have to shove every bit of filing into a cardboard box to be filed "later." Mine has been waiting now for 18 months--since the day I started writing this novel. All filing must languish there until this novel is in the hands of an agent or editor.

I cannot, simply cannot, pull my shampoo carpet-er (as my sister terms it) out of the cleaning closet and fire it up, no matter how much the carpet under the table needs it, or how bad the "high traffic areas" in my house are getting.

I have just decided to let the weeds in the back yard grow. So what. Who cares. (Other than the kids who are tired of getting "stickers" in their socks? I just throw those socks away.)

I am writing the novel. I have to focus. I have to push it ahead of those other things.

Not ahead of everything. The kids' meals matter. The husband's job (which I campaigned for relentlessly for three months) matters. The laundry has to matter, even if I don't want it to. I can't afford to risk the suffocation that might ensue. My sister in law is convinced her most likely risk of accidental death is by laundry suffocation. I concur. So, even though I must prioritize the novel, I cannot risk death for it. Seriously. It's not that important. Much as there are days I'd like to think so.

But I don't have time to try new recipes. I'm not going to whip out my cookbook and become Super Homemaker and attempt the Spudnut recipe that's been afflicting my curiosity for months and months. Spudnut? It's the recipe for doughnuts that includes mashed potatoes. I know they're good because there was a Pete's Spudnut Drive In in Logan, Utah, when I was a kid. That's a strong recipe--something good enough to build a whole restaurant around.

Pete's is gone, but a Mr. Spudnut lives on, somewhere in cyberspace.

I guess I need to get back to my point. A little pepper goes a long way in potatoes. A little prioritizing can go a long way toward getting to a writing goal. Five minutes of writing is five minutes of writing. One afternoon a week is still an afternoon of writing done. We don't have to completely shut out all the other things in our lives, but we do have to make time for the accomplishment of the goal. If I want to write a novel, if I want to finish a novel, I have to make the time for it. If not, I'll just spend another day frittering away my time wiping down fingerprints or flipping through cookbooks.

And isn't "fritter" another term for potatoes of some kind? Not my most focused blog, but it's a holiday week. We're all a little scattered. Happy joy to all you all. And many caramels and candies all week long!

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