This past weekend I spent at my grandfather's camp (what southern Ontarians refer to as a "cottage" I believe) for his 90th birthday. Traditionally, the whole family gathers in Thunder Bay for my grandpa's birthday - which he is always loathe to celebrate. "Bah - it's just another day!" he insists every time. But of course he always happily receives his birthday cake, heaped high with berries and whipped cream (his favourite).
And during any of my family shindigs there is always, always lots of food involved. Cheese, chips, homemade bread, and trail mix abound throughout the house, there are barbecue dinners, vegetable dishes from the garden, and dessert - every night there must be dessert. Naturally, I am not one to protest such indulgence.
There's a different rhythm to life at camp. There's no internet or phone, and such bad cell phone reception that it might as well not exist. Usually such a lack of modern conveniences would drive me absolutely batshit crazy, but at camp their absence somehow doesn't bother me. The days seem slower, more relaxed, in spite of Sergeant Tibbs' 6:30 a.m. wake-up yowl (the most pathetic and hilarious noise you ever heard a cat make). Baths are taken in the lake - there's something so utterly delightful about diving into a fresh water lake first thing in the morning, surrounding yourself in a pool of (biodegradable) suds. Water for drinking and washing fruits and vegetables is brought in from town (the water at the camp comes straight from the lake), and the water for dishwashing is boiled in a huge pot on the stove. These things are just inconvenient enough to make life at camp interesting rather than frustrating - we're hardly "roughing it" in the woods, but there is something satisfying in feeling at least somewhat removed from the rest of the world.
But back to the food. Naturally.
Years ago, on a family car trip, we camped on a ridiculously windy, pebbled beach, my dad and brother sliced up some potatoes, stuffed slices of butter and onions between them, wrapped them up in foil, and cooked them on the barbecue. They were delicious, and the dish has become a standard way of cooking potatoes in my house, and so of course my dad had to make it for grandpa's birthday dinner. It's such a simple dish - but honestly, you can't really go wrong with butter, onions, and potatoes.
Foil-Baked Potato Slices
This dish is the ultimate simple potato dish. There's really no set way of making it, and this is not so much a recipe as a suggestion. Amounts may vary according to your tastes, and you can change up the seasonings however you like.
Potatoes of any variety (roughly 1 for each person)
Salt & Pepper
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Wash and peel the potatoes and slice thinly.
3. Arrange potatoes neatly on a large sheet of aluminum foil (try to recreate the original shapes of the potatoes). Place a small knob of butter and onion slice between each slice of potato. When all the potatoes have been thus dressed, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and any other spices or fresh herbs you care to add (rosemary, thyme, cayenne, etc.). Putting a bit of sliced garlic between the potatoes is also a delicious way to go about things.
4. Wrap the potatoes up tightly in the foil, forming them into a well-sealed bundle. You may wish to double wrap them in foil. Place in the oven and cook for 40 minutes - an hour.
5. Serve immediately and enjoy!