Strings of tension and red flannel hash

“The world is all gates, all opportunities, strings of tension waiting to be struck.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

The tension is becoming unbearable. A flood of job opportunities has been thrown in my direction in the last month. One by one I’ve seen them, raised the ante, and declined. It’s not for my lack of interest – the simple fact is that as I move forward with my writing career, I am destined to have another job along the way to pay the bills.

I guess all the wrong gates and wrong opportunities have presented themselves to me lately. Each one seems promising on the surface, but as I dig deeper, feeling my way through another tedious interview, I recognize that I’m working awfully hard for something that I don’t want.

I few months back I posted on camaraderie and how I had been working on a personal essay about living an impoverished life in wine country. Well, that essay has taken a new shape. Here’s the deal: the older I get, the more cynical I become, and I often feel trapped in an occasionally blood-sucking industry where you have to put up with so much to receive so little in return.

Every day I sit down to write, I appreciate more and more the gift I’ve been given, and the opportunity I’ve given myself to try and do this writing thing for real. Which in turn, spurs my cynical side when I have to return to my money-making job the next day. It’s not that I hate working in a winery, but despite its seemingly glamorous appeal, working in the wine industry does not afford me a life of luxury; nor does being a writer but those are my dreams, and I won’t be giving up on them any time soon.

Amber continues to give me encouragement, and I’ve been receiving a lot of positive feedback from those following my gig, and that really helps my self-esteem. In turn, I can’t help but feel like 2012 is going to be a good year (even if I have to “starve” a little bit before it happens). I feel like being a writer is a lot of feast or famine, and I’m poised for a feast. So the tension holds steady in my fingertips. I’m waiting for the right words to be typed, the right sentence to be formed, and the perfect story to be composed. I’m waiting to strike and release the tension.

In the meantime, I get to reap the benefits of leftover corned beef, and make red flannel hash. (How’s that for a non-sequitur?) Up until last year, I had never heard of this traditional New England breakfast, but ever since having it while out to brunch at a local restaurant, I’ve been obsessed with the dish. And while everyone reminded me that you can buy corned beef any time of the year and make it, I was waiting for St. Patty’s day to make it and share with you.

Being in the kitchen is the one time of the day where I get to fully slow down – romancing vegetables with oil and herbs, garnishing meat with garlic and spices. The kitchen is where I get to relax, with the switch on the stereo flipped and the feel of olive oil on my hands and salt underneath my fingernails. I get to clear my head of all the troublesome thoughts that stir. I chop, simmer, and sauté, my feet cemented into the floor; knife in hand, stovetop on low, pieces of fallen scraps between my toes. Every chop of the knife, scrape of the pan, and twist of the whisk is a remedial distraction from the day-to-day.

I’m sure I’m one of a hundred or more bloggers giving you their recipe for red flannel hash this week – but that doesn’t really matter, because I’m not just another food blogger; I am a writer, and I’m giving you my stories, and that’s really all I have.

Red Flannel Hash

Serves 4


2-3 Tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, roughly chopped

1-2 cloves of garlic – finely minced

2 cups chopped cooked corned beef

2 red beets

2 sweet potatoes or yams, peeled

2  Yukon gold potatoes

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

2 Tbsp fresh thyme or 1 Tbsp dried

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Poached egg (optional)


  1. Roast beets @ 400F for 45 minutes or until tender (can be done day before). Peel, once cooled, then roughly chop.
  2. Roughly chop sweet potatoes and Yukon gold potatoes, then roast for 15-20 minutes @400F.
  3. Place a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the oil and onions and sauté for 3 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add corned beef and cook 3-4 minutes. Add roasted beets, potatoes, and sweet potatoes and cook 7-10 minutes. Press down with a metal spatula to help brown the mixture. Then use a metal spatula to lift up sections of the mixture and turn over to brown the other side. If the mixture sticks to the pan too much, just add a little more oil to the pan where it’s sticking. Add Worcestershire sauce and stir. Then press down with metal spatula again. And cook 5 minutes more.
  4. Add thyme and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Sprinkle with parsley and top with poached egg.

4 responses to “Strings of tension and red flannel hash

  1. Well written and fabulous pictures of hash. I too mix sweet potatoes and regular potatoes in my hashes to give more flavor to “amuse bouche”!

  2. Nice post, babe. I believe your efforts WILL pay off in time. We are all architects of our own destiny (that used to be framed in our hallway when I was a kid–wise words). Love you. :-*

  3. Pingback: Creamy pâté | The Amused Bouche

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