Old-fashioned Potato Cakes

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, March 13, 1912:  Nothing of much account did I do today.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Since Grandma didn’t write much a hundred years ago today, I’m going to give you another old recipe. This one is for Potato Cakes, and it’s a great way to use left-over mashed potatoes.

When I was a child we frequently ate Potato Cakes. My memory is that they were a very traditional Pennsylvania food—and I can picture Grandma eating them when she was a teen.

I hadn’t made Potato Cakes in years until I decided to make them for this post. I don’t have a written recipe—but this is how I made them.

Old-Fashioned Potato Cakes

left-over mashed potatoes

shortening or lard

After the meal where the mashed potatoes were served, take the left-over potatoes, shape into flat patties and press firmly. Put on a plate, cover and refrigerate. Will keep for several days.

When ready to make the Potato Cakes, melt enough shortening in a heavy frying pan to cover the pan to a depth of about 1/8 inch. Slip the patties into the hot shortening. Fry until golden brown; flip and fry on the other side. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.

The amounts are very flexible. When I made the mashed potatoes, I made more than I typically would—and then I just used all of the left-over potatoes to make the potato cakes.

The Potato Cakes turned out great. My husband and I enjoyed eating them, and I’m planning to make them again in the near future.

Old-fashioned Fried Potatoes

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Tuesday, January 16, 1912:  There is nothing much to write about for today. Things go on as usual.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Since Grandma wrote little a hundred years ago today, I’m going to give you the recipe for an old winter staple–fried potatoes. Potatoes and other locally-grown vegetables that could be stored for many months were an important part of the winter diet.

Old-fashioned Fried Potatoes

1/4 cup lard

approximately 6 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced

salt

Melt lard in large heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) using medium heat.  When the lard  is hot add the sliced potatoes.  Generously sprinkle with salt. Turn potatoes with a spatula and again sprinkle with salt. Continue cooking (and occasionally turning) until potatoes are tender, with a crisped, lightly browned coating.

Old-fashioned fried potatoes cooked in a cast iron skillet are one of my favorite foods. They brown beautifully and are very crisp. And, the lard really enhances the subtle flavor of the potatoes.