When I was growing up, my Nana lived with us.
She had a separate space above the garage, right next to my room on the second floor of our home in Toms River.
Our home was a happy home. We always had company coming to visit.
My Nana was born on September 12, 1908.
That means she lived through The Great Depression.
One thing that my grandmother was very proud of, was the fact that she never took a “handout.” That doesn’t mean their family didn’t struggle through The Great Depression.
But she took care of her family, and prepared meals that made sense.
When I was growing up, we would eat many of the same dishes that she made for my dad when he was growing up.
These are dishes like pasta with peas, pasta with macaroni, peppers and eggs, and potatoes and eggs.
I still make quite a few of these dishes now.
They provide comfort for me.
They remind me of my childhood.
They are dishes I look forward to preparing for my family.
When I went off to college, I realized through a conversation with one of my sorority sisters that all of these dishes I often found comfort in, were actually referred to as “Poor Man’s Meals.”
Roseanne and I had this conversation about fried peppers and potatoes and eggs. We even spoke about how I would often make spinach and eggs for one of our other sorority sisters, Dana, when she would come over to my place, but I never thought of these dishes as anything else other than comfort.
Dana, Roseanne, and I all had one thing in common. We were lucky enough to have our Italian Immigrant Grandmas, who made these dishes for us when we were growing up, and I wanna bet, that Dana and Roseanne make them for their kids (just like I do) today.
Potatoes and Eggs is another version of a frittata that my mom learned how to make in this huge cast iron pan from Nana. (I asked my mom where that pan is recently, because I was bold enough to ask if I could have it.)
Growing up, we would eat potatoes and eggs for breakfast, or for a light dinner on a hot summer evening with crusty bread.
When we would go to the beach there was alway the big red Coleman full of ice, with a tray on top for the fruit.
In the tray would always be what would look like a loaf of WONDER Bread next to the apples and oranges and bananas.
Upon further inspection, if you opened up the bag of bread, you would see that all the bread had been emptied out and replaced with potato and egg sandwiches. It was the perfect beach snack. It was what we would eat while we wiggled our toes in the sand with the wind blowing in our hair in Seaside Heights, New Jersey.
When Nino and I got married and had our own children, our beach excursions would include these sammies as well. If we were at the beach and we could grill, I would even add sausage and peppers with crusty bread to the mix.
But what I never realized is just how nutritious potatoes are. When my Nana made these meals for her family, it was affordable. I suppose back then it was also a matter of filling my dad’s belly in the easiest and most affordable way possible.
Did you know?
- US Potatoes are an excellent source of Vitamin C, a good source of potassium, Vitamin B6, and is naturally fat, sodium and cholesterol free.
- US Potatoes are more energy-packed than any other vegetable.
- US Potatoes have more potassium than bananas.
- The concentration of Potassium is highest in the skin of the potato.
- Eating US potatoes regularly ensures a good supply of water and ions in the body.
- Proper functioning of your child’s brain is positively affected by potato consumption. This includes phosphorus, zinc, and the B complex vitamins.
Have you ever heard of athletes carbo loading before a big race or competition?
- It doesn’t matter whether your potatoes are mashed, boiled or baked.
- It doesn’t matter if you have russet, red, purple, yellow or sweet potatoes. They are all good for you and for your kids before any kind of strenuous or athletic activity.
- Carbohydrates are the primary fuel for exercising muscles and therefore absolutely essential for supporting an athlete’s training and performance.
This makes so much sense to me. And after doing all this research, I can see that there are so many reasons why athletes choose to eat potatoes as a source of energy before a competition.
I wonder if my Nana knew, innately, how good potatoes were for her kiddos?
You know, when I was thinking about what recipe I could share with all of you where I could focus on potatoes, I remembered that growing up we would have boiled potatoes in the refrigerator all the time.
I remember running inside from playing in the neighborhood with my friends and my cousins. I would grab a cold boiled potato or a hard boiled egg from the fridge, sprinkle some salt on it, and run back outside with my snack in my hand, to finish playing whatever game it was that we were playing.
I’m really hoping that you enjoy this simple recipe from my childhood, that I still make for my family, not just for the comfort it provides, but also for nutritional value.
It’s a great dish for me to feed Jegs before his basketball games every weekend too!