Staying In My Jeans

It may come as no surprise to you that I am needing to reduce my caloric intake in order to remain in my size eight (or ten, or twelve, depending on the make) jeans. I’m forever getting comments about the food I make and the fact that I’m not a walrus, so I feel that an explanation is due.

There are several factors playing out here. First, I have a high metabolism (but not that high). Second, I do eat a lot of good-for-you food, and I (somewhat) regulate my intake of sugar/butter. Third, I mostly drink water (and coffee). Fourth, for nearly the last ten years I have been either pregnant or breastfeeding. Large parasites, either the five-pound size, or the thirty-five-pound size, really do take it out of you.

Now that I am no longer a host for human parasites, I am relearning how to regulate myself. It’s depressing how little food I really need. Seriously depressing.

So anyway, I’m readjusting my habits, trying not to eat (too much) out of boredom, or as a means of escape. (And here’s an interesting little aside—when the family was gone, I hardly ate at all. This is unheard of for me; I never don’t eat. True, I was being careful, but being careful was unusually easy. I think this is because of two things: first, I wasn’t cooking and feeding other people, so I wasn’t making myself hungry with all the good smells and then snitching tastes; and second, I was doing everything I wanted to do so I didn’t resort to food as an escape from the daily drudgery. How novel!)

I’m refraining from cooking too many sweets (we still have plenty of goodies left in the freezer, so it’s not like we’re depriving ourselves), and from constantly popping food in my mouth. For me, food equals fun, both the cooking and the eating, so this is taking every ounce of self-control that I possess, and then some. I’m trusting that once I develop new habits, that I’ll be able to relax again, not fretting so much over what I cook and eat.

“Fretting” is the wrong word. “Being cautious” would be more accurate.

In the meantime, I’m cooking solid, simple food. It’s the food I’ve always cooked, it’s just that I’m focusing on it more now. And this blog is going to reflect that. Gone (maybe) are the recipes of yore, the dense chocolate and teeth-jarringly sweet lemon, the French, candy-like granola (sob) and the potatoes baked in cream.

Scratch that. I’m keeping the potatoes baked in cream. And probably all the other stuff, too, there will just be less of it.

So, let me show you what I made for supper a couple nights ago: Baked Hash Brown Potatoes.

We also had Breakfast Brunch Casserole and peas. And ketchup for with the potatoes.

These potatoes are a quickie dish, the kind that you can make way ahead of time and then let sit in your fridge for a couple days till you decide to bake them and serve them up. They use up a lot of potatoes, too, and that is always a big plus around here.

They are not low-fat, which is not my goal (read Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and then you’ll understand why I say that), but I’m just telling you that in case you are the sort who gets all up in arms over a little butter—like, oh, say, about a stick of butter. If you are that sort of person, you could, of course, cut back on the butter, but I would feel sorry for you if you did. Because in my mind potatoes are all about the butter. Or the cream.

How to serve these potatoes? Pull a pan of the pre-assembled potatoes out of the fridge in the morning, bake them (as the cock begins to crow), and then serve them up alongside scrambled eggs. Or you could turn these potatoes from a simple side dish into a meal-in-one by adding at The Point of Assembly, some browned sausage (beef, bacon, ham, etc.), or, for the vegetarian, some other pre-cooked/sauteed veggies like leeks, carrots, and peas. However, I prefer these potatoes in their most simple form, all the better to taste their full potato-y-ness/saltiness/buttery-ness.

For bottom-liners (not to be confused with bottom-feeders), like myself, serve these potatoes just plain (and there is no “just” about it), or with ketchup.

Baked Hash Brown Potatoes
This is a family recipe (to me, anyway) passed from my Aunt Valerie to my mother, and from my mother to me.

I used fingerlings in this recipe, but any sort of white potato will do. I peeled my potatoes, but you could leave the peels on. And I’m not sure of exact quantities, so I apologize for the ambiguity (though ambiguity is also a good thing because, in this case at least, it means that the recipe is as easy as pie, nay, easier than pie).

6-10 medium-sized potatoes
4-8 tablespoons butter, melted
salt and black pepper

Scrub the potatoes, put them in a kettle, cover the potatoes with water, and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook at a slow boil until the potatoes are fork-tender. Drain off the water and let the potatoes set, just until they are cool enough to handle, but still warm. Peel the potatoes. (Potatoes are easier to peel when they are still warm.)

Let the peeled potatoes sit until they have cooled to room temperature. (Likewise, you can refrigerate the whole, peeled potatoes for several days until you are ready to use them.) Grate them, just like you do with cheese. (If you grate the potatoes while they are still warm, there is a good possibility they may turn into a starchy, mushy mess.)

Grease a 9×13 pan and sprinkle a layer of potatoes over the bottom. Sprinkle some salt over the potatoes. Repeat potato and salt layers until all the potatoes are used up. Be generous with the salt. Finish off the final layer of potatoes with a grind of black pepper. Pour the melted (and browned, if you so wish) butter over the top.

Bake the potatoes at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes, or until the potatoes have turned a light, crispy brown on the top and around the edges.


  • Margo

    wow, I somehow missed this recipe the first time around. Will definitely be making it! I have made a variation of grating raw potatoes into a skillet with lots of butter when I want to have potatoes with breakfast but didn't plan ahead.

  • Jennifer Jo


    Good questions. I usually weaned the nursing child when I was about 3-6 months pregnant (I don’t think I ever nursed during the third trimester).

    When I have morning sickness, I’m a very bad eater. I can’t stand vitamins (didn’t take them during the first trimester, and only sporadically during the rest of the pregnancy) or vegetables or water. And nursing proceeded as normal. Of course, I was gradually cutting back on the nursing sessions, not wanting to do the tandem thing, so it wasn’t like I was trying to be a milk cow or anything. (Though the women in Nicaragua fondly informed me that I made a good cow because I was such a fount of spraying milk.)

    I fortunately never had any trouble producing milk, but if you did have trouble with the first baby, it’s often a bit easier with the second—your body is more in the swing of things, I guess.

    I remember I was worried about my breasts being too tender during that first trimester to be able to continue nursing, but that wasn’t a problem—I guess they were pretty tough after all those months of heavy usage.

    Hope that helps!


  • current typist

    My breastfeeding is biking. It makes me hungry every time! Maybe you’ll have to try it sometime, so you can eat lots again. -CP

  • Anonymous

    Sarah, if you don't mind my saying so, I'll take a shot at your question. Not that I have much experience nursing while breastfeeding, but because of many years of La Leche League meetings (and owning their book: The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding). I suppose there's no guarantee that one's milk supply will stay high while pregnant, even with the best of intentions and plans, but you can help by eating a well-balanced diet with a variety of nutritious foods (skip the refined sugars & flours and go for fruits, whole grains and other whole foods instead) and drinking plenty of healthy fluids, including (if you wish) herbal tea made of (roughly) equal parts red raspberry leaf, nettles, oatstraw, red clover blossoms (opt), alfalfa and peppermint. These herbs are very nutritious for anyone, but especially for a pregnant and/or nursing mother. If you want more specific instructions about this tea, let me know. I've been making some variation of it for nearly ten years. Or you can find mother's blend teas in health food stores if you need something quick and convenient.


  • Sarah

    I have a breastfeeding question for you now that I’ve read your post on since your kiddos are two years apart (I think all of them are..) it sounds like you were able to continue breastfeeding throughout your pregnancy. I’m not pregnant yet, but just wondering what suggestions you might have for making sure one is able to produce enough milk while being pregnant (hopefully, your suggestion is eating more potatoes..and cheese!). Just thinking ahead.. 🙂

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