Sunday, May 06, 2007

You Think New Yorkers are Rude? Skillet Hash Browns

It's been said that New Yorkers are rude. I think I'm first in a long line of people that agree. Of course I pushed and shoved my way to get the front of that line, but so what?

Take for example, my front door. After a week of traveling, complete with nice little suburban doormats that say "Welcome" or "A Fisherman Lives Here with the Catch of His Life", I return to a graffiti scrawling: Fuck You. Fuck THIS. Come and visit if you don't believe me; I'm not exaggerating; it's right at eye level, in shiny metallic ink. A Brooklyn "welcome home" if you will; it sets the tone for my time here.

I had a little get away to the country this weekend; I went to see friends of mine who have a house near Rhinebeck. I brought my dog. Is that rude? It depends. I think she was welcomed, as long as she behaved. Which she did, more or less. Is jumping on people rude? Nah, they love her. She's so perky and happy. Right?

Instead of walking her the first morning, I thought I'd give us both a break from the leash (urban necessity), and I let her out the door. She ran across all 1 1/2 acres , and leaped the water feature to go after something. A squirrel, a chipmunk, something rural. Oh whoops, it's a little boy biking down the street. She lunged at the kid, who let out a yelp. Ah, she's so playful and cute, right? She wouldn't hurt him, she was just defending us. What a dog. I called her back, she came a-running, tail wagging, so happy to be in the country.

Are you kidding me? The kid was on a bike; he was fine. Learn to pedal, junior.

Fine, fine, so in case other folks are uptight, I put her on a leash. A walk would be a good opportunity to get on the cell and check messages, as I didn't want to do that in front of my friends. That's rude.

So we walked, and I talked "What? Can you hear me? What if I talk louder?", and Kayla finally did her business. On someone's lawn. No bags. Whoops.

Hey, it's the country, right? But wait, there's a shadow in the kitchen by the sink. I waved; she ducked. Shoot. What would be ruder; a hit-and-run, a hit-wave-and-run? I'm committed now, I think.

I went to the door. "Hi there," put down the cell phone. "I was just walking my um, I'm not from here, and um" I point to the pile. "Might you have a bag?" She shrugged it off; not to worry. She told me my dog was cute.

That was right, right? I wasn't rude? My dog *is* cute!

Driving home, I got lost in Jersey. Maybe it was the GPS, or the cell phone, or the fact that my convertible top was down, or maybe the fact that I was trying to juggle all three at the same time, while driving a stick. Gosh, that's a lot of wires to untangle while going 80 on the highway. I needed to take a break and refocus, so I was so thankful, when that cop pulled me over for making a very illegal (and very clearly marked) left turn.

"My gosh, I'm so sorry. But thanks for pulling me over. I could use your help; I need directions to the train station to pick up a friend."

"License and registration."

"Oh, no problem sir. What a beautiful day, isn't it? Listen, while I'm getting that, would you mind -- oh no, she doesn't bite, she's a sweet mutt aren't you, girl -- anyway, can I just call my friend? She's at the train station waiting for me. I just don't want her to worry. Oh here it is."

"This expired in 2005."

"Whoops! Right you are. You see it's my mom's car. It was my car, but I sold it to her. about this?" I handed him a pawfull of tickets and North Carolina registration. "Is it okay for me to call my friend now?"

He sighed. "This expired in 2006. You know what, you made a left where it clearly says not to. Looks like you've got a lot going on. I'm not even going to call this in. Just, please drive, somewhat more together, okay?"

"I am so, so sorry. I certainly will. Thanks so much, sir. Can you tell me where that train station is?"

What, being completely self-centered on the road is rude? It puts other people's lives in danger? What do you mean? I think you're being more than a little uptight.

A friend had me over for dinner last night. I didn't have time to get anything, so I thought I'd make a dish out of whatever she had. I mean, people always have a couple of potatoes, an onion and some butter around, right? So I didn't spend any money, give any thought, take any time or show any consideration, but I made a side dish in less than 2 hours. You think that's selfish? Oh you have no idea. You should come to New York.

Skillet Hash Browns

2 large leftover baked potatoes (1 1/2 - 2 pounds), roughly peeled and sliced 1/4- to 1/3-inch thick
1 large onion, chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Hot sauce, as desired for serving

1. Heat broiler. Heat skillet over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons butter. When it melts, layer potatoes in the skillet, and put onions on top; dot with butter and season well with salt and pepper.

2. Reduce heat to medium, and let potatoes brown. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring every five minutes or so. Place under the broiler for a final 3 to 5 minutes to crisp the top. Serve the skillet at the table, with hot sauce.


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