Thursday, May 30, 2019

Friendship Without A Self: Kingdom Hearts

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A name defines an object. Describes the span of it. Gives it purpose. We embarked upon the Replica Program to ensure our new power stays ours. Now, our shadow puppet, "No. i," lives. It needs a name. Something to define it. To give the hollow vessel purpose. (Secret Report Day 7: Meaning, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days)
Xion (No. i) was essentially indistinguishable from a natural human, though she became unstable due to the influence of others. (Secret Report 7: On the Replica Program and Reanimation, Kingdom Hearts 3)

Kingdom Hearts is a series of roughly 10 videogames released over 17 years. For the most part, those games are action RPGs; games with a third-person perspective in which you largely control one person and interaction is either context-sensitive or combat, which happens in real time.

Each individual game in the series is relatively easy to break down: a young man embarks on a journey to fix something that has gone wrong. After trials and tribulations, he succeeds. The twist to this hero's journey is that this success is, inevitably, because of the help of his friends.

If Kingdom Hearts is about any one thing, it's about friendship. Which makes sense: it's a collaboration between the videogame publisher and developer Square Enix, and the media behemoth Disney. It's a series of games where original characters team up with Final Fantasy's Cloud and Yuffie and Squall/Leon to go on adventures with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and Goofy and Pluto. They meet Sephiroth and Pinocchio and Hercules and Ariel and Aladdin. Disney films about True Love and fantasy videogames about Killing God met in the middle, and thematized the process by which this series came to be.

What these games are about and how they are about it are two different things entirely, though. Stories about friendship are a way to reflect on how we are social outside of strict reproduction. They can point to ways in which being with one another can be beautiful or harmful regardless of our intention. They can even identify moments or possibilities of solidarity that we might otherwise have remained totally unaware of. At my most sentimental (or revolutionary, depending on your perspective), I even think they can point us towards modes of engaging with - and disengaging from - intimacy in a world beyond capitalism.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. That "easy breakdown?" It's a lie. Not the part that's more or less The Odyssey or the Hero's Journey. The lie is the phrase "a young man." Because that implies a stable, consistent identity. And the stories these games tell have none of that.

Which is a bit rough, right? Because without that "young man," who is there to have friends?

Put more concisely: Kingdom Hearts is a series of games about friendship. It is also a series in which identity is never not compromised, multiple, fractured, incomplete, and overdetermined. Kingdom Hearts is about friendship without selfhood.


What follows is a short summary of all relevant information in each entry in the Kingdom Hearts series.

Near the end of Kingdom Hearts, Sora turns his Keyblade on himself. He does so to unlock his heart, because he has just learned that his best friend, Kairi, has hidden her heart away inside of his own for the bulk of the game. He wants to let her free. He does. In doing so, he becomes a Heartless. For a brief period, you control this Heartless, wandering through a massive castle. You find your friends; Kairi recognizes you even though you look like a random enemy. She hugs you, and you become yourself again.

At the beginning of Kingdom Hearts 2, you spend two hours doing chores as some boy named Roxas who you, the player, have never heard of before. He turns out to be the consequence of that earlier action; Sora's Nobody, his body-without-a-heart. He also turns out to be trapped in a simulation, living out a fantasy life programmed by Ansem so that Sora can return to himself whole.

Except that Nobodies are people's bodies, and Roxas looks nothing like Sora, not really. He actually looks like Ventus, a boy of Sora's age who we don't meet until Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep (set ten years before the events of Kingdom Hearts). There we find out that when Ventus failed to stop Xehanort, his heart wandered into the void and found Sora's, who was like five or something. So Ventus has been in Sora for over a decade.

In Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, we learn that Roxas spent his time in Organization XIII prior to getting trapped in that simulation. There he became friends with Axel, another Nobody. Nobodies, lacking hearts, are not supposed to be capable of feeling, which is what hearts do. He also became friends with Organization XIII's 14th member, Xion, who turns out to be a clone of Sora (or, to be more specific, a replica implanted with Sora's memories of Kairi who is becoming her own person). She's been manufactured to siphon off Sora's memories so he can never be completed again, even if Roxas is somehow trapped in a simulation and funnelled back into Sora, for instance. Oh, and Xion's name (before anagramed and an X added, as Organization members must) is "No. i," which is about as on the nose as it gets.

Sora is trying to regain his memories because in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories he wandered into this place called Castle Oblivion. There, a witch named Naminé (and the structure itself) distorted his memories, causing him to forget Kairi and convince him that he was actually friends with Naminé his whole life. When they meet, Sora inveighs Naminé to wipe him of his memories so that an Organization XIII member won't hurt her. He cares more about a promise to her - one that he knows he didn't really make - than his own selfhood. She does and he stays true to his word. Except that it was never his word, because he is not himself. Because he is a always already others, and his memory is being actively modified by a place and a person, and because he even knows that this was never his word. And still he stays true to it, because it is his word.

In the end he is given another choice. He can remember what happened in this castle, and the time he had with Naminé. Or he can forget it and regain the memories he has last over this time. He chooses the latter, forsaking this person he stayed true to even though he knew that truth was a lie. he chooses to forget his experiences in Castle Oblivion in order to have his previous memories restored, necessitating the destruction of Roxas and Xion, who (re)become part of him.

In Kingdom Hearts Re:coded, Mickey, Donald and Goofy want to investigate what happened to Jiminy's journal. Jiminy Cricket chronicles your exploits throughout most of the games. They digitize it and find it full of bugs, so the three appeal directly to the data version of Sora from the very beginning of the journal to act as an internal antivirus. Data Sora is super down. He wanders through the journal fixing bugs. He thanks Naminé and saves Riku, who is actually the journal embodied. He learns about hurt, and how it can be important as a reminder of loss. He is not Sora, and so Sora remembers none of this; except that he does, because Sora isn't really, or just, Sora either.

Time travel isn't introduced until Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, where the player splits time equally between Riku and Sora as they embark on a quest to become Keyblade Masters, only to get suckered into another plot from Organization XIII. Not only is this the game where they learn about people's constituent parts (Nobodies, Heartless) being able to be reconfigured into their "whole," "original" self, they learn that time is a function of selfhood. See, you can only travel in time by abandoning your body and becoming a Heartless. And even then you can only travel to where you have already been. This is how time travel works: you can only go whenever you've already been, and you cannot be you.

And then it all comes to a head. Xehanort (he's been the actual baddie behind everything) produces thirteen versions of himself to populate The Real Organization XIII. That corresponds to the 13 pieces of darkness that the χ-blade broke into (alongside seven pieces of light). Sora is, of course, both. He is meant to be the 13th piece of darkness, but assembles the seven bearers of light to engage in a final battle. Kingdom Hearts 3 is the ending of a trilogy of ten games, and so it is meant to be a synthesis, where it all comes together. The loose ends are tied up, the victory of light over dark is assured. And it happens, kind of. Except what it really reveals is that no one is anyone, and that everyone is everyone, and that the saying they try to shoehorn in repeatedly - "may your heart be your guiding key" - is irrelevant. Friends are what it comes down to, on both sides.


If Sora is the protagonist of Kingdom Hearts and is never himself, then the antagonist - Xehanort - is a funhouse mirror. In Kingdom Hearts, the villain is Ansem. He's a Heartless (the embodied darkness of a heart shorn of its mind/body). In Kingdom Hearts 2, the villain is Xemnas - an anagram of Ansem with an X added, if you hadn't already got it memorized. He's not the guy who digitized Roxas; that's actual Ansem. See, Ansem (from Kingdom Hearts) and Xemnas are actually the Heartless and Nobody of Xehanort, a disciple of Ansem who stole his master's name. The Ansem who digitized Roxas is the original, and he's a good guy/friend of Mickey. Ansem is also an enormous dick, but that's not entirely relevant right now.

Xehanort's goal, revealed slowly over the course of the whole series, is to push the world into an apocalyptic conflict. He wants to lift the veil of the world, ending the current one and creating a new one where things can be better. He's a revolutionary who has no social bonds. And his friends are various hims. Which isn't necessarily solipsistic, given the fractured selfhood at this series' core.

The funhouse mirror is that Sora is only ever presented as Sora, mostly; this character design houses Kairi and Ventus and Roxas and Xion's hearts. Xehanort is almost never Xehanort. He's three people - Xemnas and Ansem and Xehanort - whose ultimate, apocalyptic plan involves him becoming 13 people. Even when Xehanort is on screen, he's equally likely to be Young Xehanort and Master Xehanort standing next to each other. Time travel. Sora is the body without a self; Xehanort the self without body. You might say, equally truly, that Sora is the body full to brimming with selves while Xehanort is a self stretched thin through bodies. Either way, the question remains: who are these people friends with?


Fiction writing, writ large, can be approached a number of ways. Some writing says: here is the truth of this world. Described, enacted, and organized. Other writing says: here is truth of these characters, discussed, conveyed, and organized. Still other writing says: here is the truth of this world, but it was actually the truth of the characters. We call this an unreliable narrator. And there's the inverse, writing which says that it is the truth of the characters but is actually the truth of its world. We tend to call this literature.

In any story, it's difficult to tell whether what we know is epistemologically or ontologically true. You might shorthand that to "subjectively" or "objectively;" the former has to do with knowledge, the latter with being. Stories are made of people talking and interacting, and they are made by people writing and drawing and animating and devising mechanics. The unreliable narrator weaponizes that difficulty; we only know what is in the text (and what we bring to it and what we assume about it). Fiction is untrue, after all, but read (or played or watched or heard) by real people.

All of which is to say: it's difficult to say what is precisely "true" in Kingdom Hearts. Or more specifically, how this world actually functions versus how the framing and the storytelling conveys that functioning, and whether there is a difference there (spoilers: as with all fiction, there isn't, objectively speaking, and of course there is, it's the most important thing). Doubly so when the closest thing we have to a point of view character is actually half a dozen hearts in a singular body, absolutely reliant on the bonds of friendship to function.

With that in mind, it's hard to make claims about the ontology of Kingdom Hearts. But there's one I'm fairly confident in: it is a universe in which triads are a fundamental principle. Kingdom Hearts has, as far as I can tell, precisely one binary: light and dark. Otherwise everything is in threes.

Some examples: In every game but Kingdom Hearts 3, your party is three characters full. In Kingdom Hearts, there are interactable elements called Trinities, even. Friends tend to come in threes: Sora, Riku and Kairi; Mickey, Donald, and Goofy; Roxas, Axel, and Xion; Ventus, Terra, and Aqua. But also Sora, Donald, and Goofy and Mickey, Riku and Sora. These threes aren't exclusive. Humans are thirds, even. Heart, mind, and body. This can be experimented on and reproduced. A Somebody (that is, a whole person) consumed by darkness becomes a Heartless (a heart without a body) and a Nobody (a body without a heart), as long as they have a strong enough will (which is to say soul or mind).

From systems to story, the world is carved up into threes. It's a world, in other words, where a statement like "us vs them" wouldn't make sense. Or at least it wouldn't be as compelling as, say, "us vs them vs the rest." Where a phrase like "here and there and everywhere" would have to translate to "here and there and there and everywhere." Because unless you're talking specifically about the war that underlies reality, most things only make sense if there are two other things that complement them. True love isn't a Sora/Riku ship, it's the truth of the matter: that when they grow up, assuming things don't come between them, Sora and Riku and Kairi might well establish a triad. Kingdom Hearts is ontologically against the couple form, is what I'm saying.


There's this other videogame called NieR:Automata that came out in 2017 (this is the part where I spoil bits of both NieR:Automata and Kingdom Hearts 3, if that's something you're worried about). It's one of the most affecting things I've ever played; full of small moments that showcase the world and how it is materially constructed. To beat it, you have to play through it around three times. Each time rolls credits, and then the game changes.

At the beginning of the second playthrough (route B), you control a robot. It's one of the mundane enemies you have already defeated hundreds of. You try to revive your brother by bringing them oil, tripping over wires on the way there and back. If it isn't inspired by that moment in Kingdom Hearts where Sora turns into a Heartless (when freeing Kairi's heart from his own), I'll eat my hat.

At the very end of NieR:Automata, you get a final credits sequence. You play a hacking minigame that you've played many times before, and shoot them. Getting through it becomes impossible. You have to acknowledge that things are worth doing, that life is worth living, that games are worth playing. It becomes more impossible. You are finally asked to accept help. When you do, the minigame becomes playable again. Beatable. Even easy. At the end, you're asked to make a decision. You can keep your save files, making it easy to revisit the game. Or you can delete them, meaning if you want to experience things again you will have to invest another 20+ hours, but you will be one of those people that helped you. A real person in the world will be able to pass that final trial because of your sacrifice.

In the lead up to Kingdom Hearts 3's final battle, Sora is reunited with all of his friends and they are wading their way through an army of Heartless. They're over-overwhelmed. You play through a huge boss fight. The enemy only regroups, consolidating their forces into a literal tornado. Sora decides to defeat them on his own. He jumps in, and a brief cutscene happens. A character from the past offers help. You regain control, and are surfing on a wave of Keyblades. The screen instructs you to press the Triangle button. Whenever you do, a bloom of light emerges from Sora, and a name on the left side of the screen disappears. Each of these names is someone who has spent time in Union χ, the Kingdom Hearts mobile game. You are, presumably, expending their life to help Sora get to the final confrontation with Xehanort. The reference point references.

The best aspect of NieR:Automata is how everything in the game feeds into the greater thematic considerations. The biggest, most explanatory cutscene does as much work as a bit of optional side dialogue or a shitty sidequest where you race a robot around a map. The game, in other words, is incredibly tightly wound around specific thematic concerns that leaves many other things - the gameplay, the pacing - to feel baggy or awkward for many players. It is also a work in translation in an industry that systematically devalues storytelling. Kingdom Hearts is much baggier.


Kingdom Hearts begins in "the age of fairy tales." This is its prehistory, when the Worlds were one World, and everything was light. That's fairly standard Fantasy fare, as is the fact that the world became rift by darkness. We never actually play in that prehistory, because storytellers and their audiences are told that conflict drives narrative. But the way that they narrativize that transition is important. From the mouth of Yen Sid in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance:

[I]n time, the World was overrun by legions who wanted the light all for themselves, and the first shadows were cast upon the land. These warriors crafted "Keyblades" in the image of the original χ-blade, and waged a great war over Kingdom Hearts. We call this the "Keyblade War." But though the war extinguished all light from the World, the darkness could not reach the brightness inside every child's heart. With that light, the World was remade as we know it today, with countless smaller worlds shining like stars in the sky. …  After all, light begets darkness, and darkness is drawn to light.
There's a lot to unpack here. The first thing: the placement of the phrase "light begets darkness." The fact that it falls near the end of this quote is telling. It is a truism, one that could itself do the work of explaining all this lore away. The world is full of light, and light begets darkness, therefore some dark elements arose and attacked the light. Instead it is almost an afterthought; the light was coveted - presumably by the light, or people filled with light, because darkness is only introduced by this action.

One of the stories we tell about the birth of capitalism takes place in England in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, all the way through the 19th century. It's a long, slow process known as the Enclosure of the Commons. Under feudalism (hardly a world filled with light), there was significant arable land that was held in common. Peasants used it for subsistence farming, primarily. The emergence of a bourgeois class, people who owned capital, or the means by which to produce goods, necessitated a different kind of labor than the peasant provided the lord, even in agriculture. They pressured this system and it pushed back, but in the process laws were enacted, violence done, and land taken. Peasants were pushed off the common land and turned into wage laborers, people who could not feed themselves except by producing value for someone who had capital. This class, the bourgeoisie, slowly gained more and more power - socially, economically, politically. Then, from the late 17th to the late 18th century, they caused wars. Revolutions in England, France, and America overthrew feudal society, making capitalism the logic and practice by which the world was structured.

It's not a one-to-one translation, obviously. But there's a core similarity there which absolutely does not need to be similar. The world has this good in it. It's a resource; it is how people feed themselves or literal motes of goodness. People see an opportunity to exploit that goodness toward their own ends. They take it. Wars, and the world is changed. Specifically, it is fractured, becomes alienated. People no longer live together in the light, but scattered across worlds. People no longer reap the fruit of their labor, but sell it to the market in order to be able to purchase food and rest from others.

The inciting incident behind the sole binary in this series is an act of enclosure and dispossession. The motivating action behind nearly every game in this series is driven by this war, whether that's the reclamation of Kingdom Hearts or the production of a new Kingdom Hearts or the χ-blade. That motivation might underpin the action, but the people in it are an entirely different story. They're a human shape filled to bursting with selves or a self stretched among a baker's dozen bodies, after all. Or they're replicas filled with one person's memory of another, or bodies without hearts that shouldn't exist and definitely shouldn't have feelings and definitely love each other deeply as friends. And so much in between.


Stories can do a lot. They can model behavior that we might want to see in the world, or might want to struggle against. They can help our brains make connections that might not have occurred to us otherwise. They can explain phenomena we aren't equipped to deal with, or they can obfuscate complicated relations and make them seem simple. They can provide comfort, soothing you during a frightening period or letting your brain rest enough to return to work in ideal shape the next day. They tend to be about something, or some things, and so they can accumulate on top of our previous understandings of a concept or a relation, making it more robust or hiding something crucial.

They always do certain things. They exist in relation to the dominant ideology of the time, and in relation to the position of the author(s) and their own social and ideological commitments. They transform ideology, the way a person understands how the world works and how they move through it - even if unconsciously - into fiction, a discrete thing that can be analyzed, understood, and thought about. And they are products of labor, whether written or designed or curated or told.

Stories about friendship can teach us how to be in the world with others, or how not to be. They can teach us how other people are, or how they want to project having been, in relation to others. They can even suggest glimmers of how we might be under a different regime, one where the profit motive is gone, or where meaning is a product of trinary, rather than binary opposition. These lessons can be muddled, useless, or unproductive just as often (or even more) than they are clarifying.

Stories about friendship in a world of trinary opposition, where people are not themselves and everyone is everyone, are bound to be muddled. They can't model behavior, and when they do it must almost necessarily be a failing. But they can spark possibility. They are still fiction, after all, something worked on, something with a concrete relation to the illusions that cause the world to function the way it does, something that provides us a framework by which to better understand those illusions and bring that understanding to the work we have ahead of us. That work is not going to involve wielding a massive key like a sword, beating the embodied darkness of people's hearts into submission and locking and unlocking discrete worlds from each other.

It will involve standing with one another, regardless of whether or not we are at one with ourselves. And it will involve conflict as we struggle against those who pursue, single-mindedly, their own apocalyptic (profit) motive in order to continue to reshape the world in their own image.

Kingdom Hearts' story can't be explained. In the same way that no other story can, not without fundamentally telling a different story. Because what is important isn't that time travel is the abnegation of the self that is tied to the self, or that darkness is impassable by everything except Gummi Ships, those in control of darkness, Keyblade Armor, and also maybe Monstro and Captain Hook's ship, for some reason. It's the experience of learning this young man is young men and women and no one at all, and the way that breaks against your own ideological presuppositions or melds with them immediately. It's whether you play Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories and get mad because everything ends up forgotten, canonically, because that feels like cheating to you, or whether you embrace it because of the beats along the way and the fact that it is true in this world, regardless of any character's memory. It's the moments of skepticism followed by joy you get in starting a new game and finding out that, hey, this terribly-named thing called "flowmotion" in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance seemed overwhelming and useless and gimmicky but it actually makes moving around this dense, bizarre world a joy in itself.

And some of us - all of us, I think - have complicated relationships to the self. We aren't just who we are. We're conditioned by the world, and by each other. And having this joyful, messy way of reflecting back on that can be helpful. It's partially a coincidence that Kingdom Hearts finally grabbed me when I was coming to terms with my gender identity issues. For you it might be something else. But being able to reflect on the world with the help of Sora and Xion and Naminé has taught me about myself, and about how people interact with the world. Especially when that world's common goods are enclosed on and alienated.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Always Bee Cooking #1: Potatoes and Transitions

This is the first post on my new Patreon page! To support further writing, sign up; I will be posting at least one new piece of critical writing once a month here (early for patrons), and this cooking blog will appear most months exclusively for $10+ patrons.

The Story

One thing I didn't expect from transitioning was a fundamental shift in my relationship to potatoes.

I grew up in a household that wasn't exactly conducive to loving food. Sitting around the dinner table was a masterclass in the kinds of manipulation (CW) that was constantly at play in my mom & stepfather's relationship. He would perform appreciation for her in a way that seemed to be transparently about bargaining for sex. Coupling that with my own intense reaction to certain textures – I have only recently been able to eat oatmeal or lettuce without involuntarily gagging – meant the situation was almost always unpleasant.

I dealt with that by becoming a 'picky' eater. And a large part of being picky is being performative about it, whether you intend to or not.

As late as 2017, everyone who knew me (and cared enough about my food preferences to file them away) knew that I hated potatoes. Hashbrowns were the exception, and I could deal with french fries. That was it.

In 2019, potatoes have been referred to as "[my] favorite food" by multiple, unrelated parties.

Coincidentally: in 2017, I was still of the mindset that any gender questions I had (including wanting, occasionally, to wear nail polish) were probably just white boy privilege and appropriation. In 2019, I'm out to friends, some family, and the internet now I guess?

I started cooking seriously when I moved to a place with a grocery store in walking distance (I haven't been behind the wheel of a car in almost 7 years at this point). My big goal at the time was to make breakfast burritos. To do that, I had to turn a corner on potatoes.

Getting there meant having more potatoes than I could use in just breakfast burritos. So I needed to find out other ways to use them. Once I had a serviceable, repeatable way to make breakfast burritos (check the recipes section!), I started branching out. I didn't want my food to go bad.

The story isn't that clean, of course. Potatoes aren't #transgirlculture. I started cooking them (and at all) because of a mix of material needs. I was having a difficult time working  – due in part to figuring out dysphoria, but also to having a remote job with no dedicated space in which to do it. I've continued because I've just become progressively more broke over the intervening years, had less work, and learned to really enjoy it. Plus Family Dinners. Lifesavers, those.

In the future, we'll get to stories about Family Dinner. Maybe that time I made mint eggs. It'll be nice. For now, though, let's get to some potato recipes that are fairly easy to do.

Some Quick Notes

Since this is the first one of these, I feel like I should say a few things before we get to the recipes.

First off, I'm one of those insufferable people who never measures. I'm sure whenever I start baking, that will change. I'll do my best to include them here, but recognize that these are guidelines.

Even growing up strongly disliking food, I've found that you can kind of guess at what you will have a tolerance for. I want to say err on the side of caution, because a bland breakfast scramble is a light disappointment while a salt mess might lead to wasting food. But you should also go a little hard sometimes, to test your limits. Do what feels right, and when it's wrong, take that knowledge forward (and don't let it get you down on yourself). Don't test your limits with meat though. Meat is terrifying.

Speaking of meat: most months, my recipes are probably going to be functionally vegan. That's how I'm most comfortable cooking. Earth Balance instead of butter, and all that. I'm not vegan, but I mostly eat that way.

I also tend to make more than a single meal's worth, so if you follow me to a T then expect to feed company or have leftovers. Leftovers are great.

All of the recipes below (and likely most of the ones in the future) are going to contain some variation on garlic and onions. I've said here to use the powder; things like dried, salt, or fresh also work, just adjust accordingly. Powder is the most concentrated, so use more of it; dried and fresh need to be cooked, so consider adding it earlier (or later if you're afraid it will burn, though little chunks of burnt garlic are fine imo); and onion salt can take the place of some or all of the salt that you would otherwise use.

I'll also try to have more photos in future. People seem to like those? I didn't have money to buy potatoes while writing this o:).

Oh and: holy shit, thank you. If you get a chance to make one of these recipes, please do let me know. Especially if it comes out messy. I'm trying this new thing, you know?


Home Base Home Fries
2-3 medium russet potatoes (or 1-2 large ones)
Neutral oil (canola, grapeseed)
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder (see notes above if you don't have either powder)
Black Pepper
Smoked Paprika

Wash potatoes and start chopping. You'll want pieces that are rough cubes, big enough to maybe fit two on a fork/in your mouth. Around halfway through chopping set a pan over medium-high heat to warm.

Once you're done chopping, add oil to the pan. Let it heat for a few seconds, then add chopped potatoes. Add all spices to taste, toss in the pan. Cover the pan and peace out for about five minutes.

Check and stir/flip potatoes, replace cover for another five minutes. Poke larger chunks with a fork or spatula to determine if they're cooked through. If not return cover and cook for another five minutes. Repeat until done. Once done, go to the next step.

Once potatoes are easily able to be pierced by a fork or spatula, remove cover and cook, flipping every few minutes until potatoes are crisp on the outside. Remove to a plate.

Optional: about a minute before potatoes are done, add spinach to the pan and cook until slightly wilted. Voila, healthy breakfast?

Potato & Egg Scramble
Home Base Home Fries Recipe (above)
3 eggs
2-3 handfuls of spinach (or another leafy green)

Follow home fries instructions up to paragraph 3. While cooking, break eggs into a bowl, add a dash of water or milk, and whisk until scrambled.

Once you remove the cover (when potatoes are easily pierced), get potatoes to a well-crisped state (but not quite finished). Pour eggs into the same pan, reducing heat slightly.

Let cook for a couple minutes, until eggs start to coagulate. Begin adding spinach. Cook eggs until done, and spinach until slightly wilted. This can be done in a different pan if you need more space, which will also allow them to be covered so they cook slightly faster. Combine and serve.

Simple Breakfast Burrito
Home Base Home Fries Recipe (above)
4 Eggs
~4 Tortillas
1 handful Kale (or another leafy green)
Fresh Cilantro

Follow instructions for Home Base Home Fries (less optional spinach). Alternatively, get fancy and follow recipe for Crispy Cheesy Hashbrowns below. I can't guarantee that one, but I bet it's good. Once finished, move to a burner on the lowest heat and only occasionally stir to keep warm.

Add chorizo to a new pan on medium-high heat. Cook for 5 minutes or so, stirring, until chorizo starts to evenly brown. Add kale or other green, and cook until it begins to wilt (a couple minutes should suffice. Add eggs, and cook until done.

Turn a burner with no pan on it on to low. Place tortilla directly on the burner. Once a light smoke starts curling up from under the tortilla, flip and repeat. Lightly toast each side of each tortilla to add some warmth and crunch.

Assemble burritos, adding optional cilantro/avocado if desired. Fold them better than I do, add hot sauce of choice (Cholula or Crystal are personal favorites) or salsa per bite, and enjoy. Refrigerate leftovers for up to a week, if you really want to push it.

Crispy Cheesy Hashbrowns
3-5 medium potatoes (idk what medium means either)
1-2 small handfuls shredded mozzarella (other cheeses should work as well)
A cheese grater and plenty of time
Garlic Powder

Start by washing and then grating the potatoes into a bowl large enough to hold all of them. Fill bowl with cold water, and lightly massage potatoes (similar to washing rice). Drain into a colander, then repeat until water runs clear. If you are planning on making a soup simultaneously, reserve the starchy water.

Lay out grated, washed potatoes on a couple of paper towels. Place more on top. Let sit until dry, probably 30 minutes to an hour. Heat up a pan over medium heat. Return to bowl and toss with pepper, garlic powder, salt, and cheese.

Put a generous dash of oil and a half tablespoon of butter into the pan. Pull between 1/2 and 3/4 cup of mixed potatoes (depending on how hungry you and/or your guests appear to be) out of the bowl and place in the pan. Flatten. These should not have a fluffy center. Cook over medium heat for too long (or turn the heat up a little bit if you are in a rush or easily bored), until bottom is crispy. Flip and repeat. Plate. Repeat this whole paragraph until all potatoes are cooked. Serve.

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