Road trips are awesome. Even now, with a six year-old in the car and all the verbal ‘baggage’ that’s associated with the scenario, my heart does a little sidewalk skipping when we’re packing the car and getting ready to head north for a good two-day journey.
My most memorable road trip happened when I was nine. The trip consisted of my dad, older brother, and Mr. and Mrs. Dean. We headed south. With five people in the car we were pretty cozy, but both my brother and I were (and still are) pretty easily entertained so all went well…
Right up to the moment that the man ran out to the middle of the road gesturing wildly. We couldn’t understand what he was saying with the car all closed up (what else do you do when a strange ranting person runs to the center of the highway?), but his gestures were clear; he was pointing up. So, my father rolled down his window, stuck his head out and looked to the sky.
Even though we couldn’t see them, the drone of engines was immediately audible to us. Dad whipped his head back in the car, reached in the glove compartment for the roll of toilet paper and simply said, ‘Bombers.’
Immediately the car emptied. We poured out and ran for the nearest line of bushes. Once there, we crouched down, being careful not to move at all. In the distance we could see a group of buildings and we watched as the planes headed straight for it.
Before too long, the rat-tat-tat of gun fire wafted over to us and then we watched as the bombers’ doors opened and the bombs dropped through. I could count each one as it fell and saw the puffs of smoke as they landed, eradicating whatever lay around them.
We waited a long time for the bombing to finish and at some point one of us realized that they had to ‘use the facilities.’ Somehow, in the toilet paper handover, it slipped away and unrolled down the hill, leaving a stark while trail behind it.
Stark white, like an arrow, pointing straight toward our set of bushes. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone react as fast as my dad, who rushed out, gathered the roll and offending trail back and dove into the bushes. Eventually, the bombers left and we crawled out of the bushes and back in our car, heading our slowly with one of the adults planted on the hood so he could keep an eye out for a second round.
Confused? It’s a true story, you know. That’s what happens when you juxtapose the familiar with the not-so familiar. Yes, it was a basic road trip but we lived in Beirut, Lebanon and headed south to Jordan. Stuff like that happened often enough that we always carried toilet paper in the glove compartment.
If you’re in the mood to reminisce, pull up a chair and join me in a plate of scalloped potatoes. This goes beyond comfort food; it’s a memory charger. Is there anyone that didn’t have scalloped potatoes at the table while growing up?
One of the reasons I love this version is that it’s simple to make and inexpensive, as are all the dishes served up in All You’s Delicious on a Dime Cookbook. They put the cost for this at less than a dollar per serving and I have no reason to argue with that.
Other than slicing onions and potatoes, the prep work is minimal. In fact, I heated my milk in the microwave while still in the measuring cup to make it even easier. It worked like a charm.
I did have some grated cheese left over after I had put the casserole together and didn’t want to save a couple of tablespoons in the fridge, but hated to waste it also, so I sprinkled it on top, effectively turning this into a gratin instead of scalloped potatoes. Oops. Forgive me?
Ah, potato love. One of the criteria I use for judging good scalloped potatoes is how the milk acts when the dish is done. If it’s still very liquidy, the potatoes get a lower grade. This was perfect. The scalloped potatoes were surrounded in onion-infused cream. They were tender and delicious. All three of us enjoyed them and cleaned our plates. The only issue I had with the recipe is that it claims to make eight servings. Those would be very small servings. Without being overly generous, we found that it provided for six sufficiently.
What I’d Do Different Next Time
Not a thing.
- 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 2½ pounds red potatoes, peeled and sliced ⅛ inch thick
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon pepper, divided
- 1 cup shredded Gruyère, divided
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1¼ cups milk
- Preheat oven to 425ºF. Grease a 9-inch round baking dish.
- Arrange half of onion slices in a circular pattern in dish, overlapping slightly. Repeat with potato slices, then sprinkle with ½ tsp. salt, ½ tsp. pepper and ½ cup Gruyère. Drizzle with 2 Tbsp. butter. Repeat with remaining ingredients, finishing with a top layer of potato slices.
- Bring milk to boil and carefully pour over potatoes. Bake until tender and golden, 45 to 55 minutes.
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