Sometimes Life Hands You a Sack of Ingredients

Maybe you have a friend with a garden that’s overproducing, and you get a surprise gift of a bag of zucchini and homegrown potatoes. You already know about making zucchini bread out of other people’s excess zucchini, but the potatoes deserve to have something good done to them before they go to waste, so you decide to make this;

Spinach and Bacon Potatoes


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions, chopped (when in doubt, err on the side of more onion, rather than less)
  • 1/2 pound bacon, finely chopped (the original version called for pancetta, the which we do not have, up here in the wilds of the north country, but regular bacon works just fine so long as it isn’t maple-cured or something like that. I buy packages of bacon ends and pieces at the IGA, and they do just fine as ingredient-grade bacon.)
  • 5 large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (throw in a couple extra if your potatoes are running small)
  • 1 box of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 4 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend (cheddar will also work)
  • 1 pint heavy cream (or half and half, if you’re being economical with money or fat)


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a medium baking dish.
  • Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat, and sauté the onion and bacon until onion is tender and bacon is cooked through.
  • Alternately layer the potato slices, the bacon and onion mixture, the spinach, and the cheese in the prepared baking dish.
  • Pour the heavy cream evenly over everything.
  • Cover and bake 1 hour in the preheated oven.
  • Uncover, and continue baking 30 minutes, until bubbly and lightly browned.

The writing life can be like this sometimes, as well.  You may be going along, working on the project or projects you currently have in hand, when your personal muse shows up with a basket full of ideas and says to you, “Here.  I’m sure you can make something tasty out of these.”

Since it’s a bad idea to ignore gifts from your muse, even inconvenient ones, you’ll have to do something with all those fresh ingredients.  Maybe they can go together to make something you can whip up in a hurry before getting back to your main projects – a quick short story stir fry, as it were.  But maybe they’re better suited for something complex and long-simmering that you don’t have time for right now, so what else can you do?

Well, that’s where food preservation techniques real or virtual scrapbooks and idea files come in.  Get that gift basket full of ideas safely frozen or pickled or salted down and stored in the root cellar, and come the cold midwinter of the mind, they’ll be waiting there to nourish you.

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