Potato pancakes (aka: potato latkes) have held a special place in my heart ever since I first discovered them in a book my grandma gave to me when I was around 10 years old. Oddly enough, the recipe came from a food-based science experiment book, although I just preferred to think of it as a really fun cookbook.
After I found the recipe, Saturday after countless Saturday morning would pass, as I sat cross-legged on the kitchen floor, painstakingly peeling pounds of potatoes, my hands aching and covered in white starch. I'd categorically refuse to let anyone help me make the pancakes (even if it took so long that breakfast would ultimately turn into lunch). Because, you see, it was my recipe. From my really fun cookbook.
The truth is: there was something almost intoxicating about taking a humble potato and magically turning it - through scrubbing, peeling, grating, stirring, and finally, frying - into something beautiful, and savory, and utterly delicious. And although it clearly takes a fair amount of work to create the perfect potato pancakes, that's a fact that I've always appreciated.
Ya know that old saying about "all good things taking time?" Yea, it applies here, too.
Of course, you could always take the easy way out and use some kind of automatic peeler and a food processor to prep the potatoes (no judgment). Or you could even buy frozen potato pancakes or a boxed mix. But, doing things the old fashioned way has always worked best for me.
While I'd usually offer up my secrets at this point, since I've been making potato pancakes for so long - and basically go "by feel" these days - I can't quite share my personal recipe right now. However, I have tried this recipe, which is quite good with the addition of some minced garlic/garlic powder and a fair amount of diced onion thrown into the mix. Top it all of with a few shakes of salt and pepper, a smear of vegan butter, a dollop of vegan sour cream, and some chives (if you've got 'em), and you'll discover why potato pancakes are one of my oldest (and most delicious) friends!