Potato Cakes – A Heritage Recipe

frying pans

Gail and Clyde Martin used these cast iron frying pans a lot.

In 1999, Mom started sending recipes to an online site called Kitchen Happenings and More. She proposed that they add a section for heritage recipes and she would supply them with recipes and the stories that went with them.

A Heritage Recipe June 10th, 1999
Margaret, publisher and editor of Kitchen Happenings and More wrote, “Gail Martin shares another of her favorite recipes from yesteryear.”

Mother’s Potato Cakes
by Gail Martin
One of my favorite recipes handed down from my frugal mother, who never let a bit of food go to waste, is potato cakes. She used a cup or more of leftover mashed potatoes, with two farm fresh eggs, 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder and a dash of salt and pepper. Then mixed all together and dropped by the spoonful on a greased, hot, iron skillet. She would reduce the heat and fry until brown, turn them over and brown the other side. Mother used a dab of plain lard or bacon drippings to fry the small cakes. Of course bacon drippings add to the flavor.

The eggs Mother used were from her own New Hampshire Red hens. This breed of chickens laid large, brown shelled eggs and Mother’s chickens ranged on the open prairies of Greenwood county, Kansas where they ate grasshoppers, bugs and Bluestem grass. If you haven’t experienced the joy of fresh farm country eggs you are in for the treat of your life. In the summer time the yolks will be a brilliant orange globe. No comparison to the store bought eggs that have been in cold storage for who knows for how long.

My daughter Cindy says she always peels an extra potato or two when she is making mashed potatoes so she will have leftovers to make Grandmother’s potato cakes.

Ruth feeding chickens

Ruth Vining McGhee with the family chickens in the early 1900s. This is before the Rhode Island reds.

Mom also posted the story and recipe on the Our Echo website with this comment, “When this was published on June 10th I was so pleased as that was Mother’s birthday. I couldn’t have planned it better.”

I thought of this story and brought it here for more readers after my sister Cindy mentioned potato cakes today. “Using up the leftovers is part of the after Thanksgiving tradition: I fixed fried-potato-patties for breakfast this morning with the leftover mashed potatoes. They weren’t as good as Mom/ Gail used to make but I tried,” she said. Cindy said she adds a dash of garlic powder when she makes them.

Mom’s sister, C.J. remembers, “Ah, how this takes me back! Our Mother’s potato cakes were a sumptuous repast from the gods, and I’ve never been able to duplicate the taste. Not surprising since I only have access to store eggs, but perhaps not having Mother’s hand on the spoon has something to do with it!”

picture of potato cakes

My sister, Karen, still makes the potato cakes.



3 thoughts on “Potato Cakes – A Heritage Recipe

  1. Ah-h-h–homemade potato cakes! A favorite in our home, too. I’d add a few chopped onions or scallions. I’m sure the fresh farm eggs added a lot–but we all know that it was the bacon drippings that gave it that special flavor!


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