ramblingtart » sharing stories and art with the world from Australia

Masthead header
ramblingtart bio picture

For Barbara Harris: Irish Potato Pancakes with Garlic Cottage Cheese

On June 29, 2012 my friend Barbara Harris died after a long and painful fight with cancer.

We met online a couple of years ago through her blog, winos and foodies, and became virtual friends. As soon as she heard I was in Australia, Barbara and her husband Bryan drove down from Brisbane for a visit. It was like we’d known each other for years, and once we got talking we couldn’t stop. πŸ™‚ Before lunch was even over, they invited me to stay with them, so we made a date for December.

Barbara Harris

As the date for our visit drew closer, we laughed because they found out they would have to suddenly move apartments on the day of my arrival. Our plans for a leisurely visit went out the window and instead we spent the weekend packing and hauling boxes in the pouring rain. πŸ™‚ We had a marvelous time chatting as we packed, taking breaks to indulge in pastries from Barbara’s favorite French patisserie, and to take in the stunning views of the Brisbane River from their new apartment.Β  They dubbed their guest room “Krista’s Room” and said that it would always be open for me. πŸ™‚

Throughout all this Barbara was suffering terribly from the effects of her cancer treatments. She could hardly breathe. Her voice was only a whisper. She could no longer taste the food that she loved so much. But she wouldn’t dream of putting her life on hold while she recovered, she simply adjusted her schedule to accommodate naps and rests and wrote to her friends instead of talking with them. Barbara was not a martyr, she didn’t push herself past her limits or take risks with her health, but she was brave beyond measure, and I felt stronger just being with her.

She taught me so much, helping me work through painful things from my past. She shared stories from her life, urging me to trust my own heart, to not be afraid, to press forward with hope. She also gave me courage to be myself, and inspired me to live as beautifully as possible in the time I am given.

My last visit with Barbara was a week or two before she died. Her perky silver hair was gone, and even eating was painful for her. Yet she insisted on providing lunch, spreading the table with scrumptious bread, antipasti, and cheeses. Although she felt terrible, we had the jolliest visit, discussing food, books, music, shared acquaintances, travel and family. I never dreamed it would be the last time I’d see her.

One of Barbara’s greatest blogging legacies is her creation of LiveSTRONGwith a Taste of Yellow, her tribute to Lance Armstrong for the courage and strength he gave her in her own fight against cancer.

This month Meeta from What’s for Lunch Honey? is dedicating her Monthly Mingle to the memory and legacy of Barbara. It will be hosted by Jeanne from Cook Sister, and the theme is Taste of Yellow.

That makes me smile because when I think of Barbara, I think of yellow.

Near my house are fields of yellow sunflowers, and Barbara was planning to drive through them so she could take heaps of pictures with her beloved camera.

Barbara grew up on a farm in Australia, and she always peppered me with questions about life on our farm – Citadel Kalahari – wanting to hear all about our chooks, goats and gardens. She had planned to celebrate an early Thanksgiving with us here next month, and I know she would’ve loved these yellow leaves, the yellow dish towel drying in the sun, and the yellow tail on our windmill.

My contribution to Monthly Mingle’s Taste of Yellow is a recipe for Irish Potato Pancakes with Garlic Cottage Cheese. It is pure comfort farm food and when you make it with yellow Yukon Gold potatoes, they fry up a beautiful golden yellow. I call these pancakes Irish because the recipe for the potato mixture was shared with me by an Irish friend who made them regularly on the cold, rainy days Ireland is so famous for. They pair beautifully with creamy cottage cheese mixed with garlic and scallions.

I’m so grateful for the chance to know Barbara, to see her love for her husband and children, her passion for food, music, and travel, and her kindness and genuine care for the people she loved. My life is so much better because she was in it.

Irish Potato Pancakes with Garlic Cottage Cheese


6 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
1 can green beans
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup (or more) olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup creamed cottage cheese
1 tsp minced garlic
1-2 scallions, sliced
1-2 Tbsp olive oil


  1. In saucepan place potatoes, green beans (including liquid), garlic, and salt, cover with water and bring to boil. Lower heat slightly and simmer 20 minutes or until potatoes mash easily with a fork.
  2. Drain well and return to pan. Add olive oil (add more if needed to make mashed potato consistency), salt and pepper to taste, and mash well. Set aside to cool.
  3. In small bowl mix cottage cheese with garlic and scallions. Set aside.
  4. Add eggs and Parmesan cheese to cooled potatoes. Mix well.
  5. Heat 1-2 Tbsp olive oil in large skillet and add tablespoons of potato mixture, spreading to make even discs like small pancakes. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side or until crisp and browned. Transfer to plate and cover to keep warm. Repeat until potato mixture is gone.
  6. Serve warm with garlic cream cheese and sprinkle with additional sliced scallions.
Email to a friend Work with me 69,109,97,105,108,32,109,101em liamE Subscribe by email Shop

A Taste of Yellow in memory of Barbara: the Monthly Mingle roundup - Cooksister | Food, Travel, Photography - […] DISH:Β Irish potato pancakes with garlic cottage cheese NAME: Krista Bjorn LOCATION: Australia BLOG:Β Rambling Tart […]

Tandy - thank you for sharing such a wonderful bank of memories πŸ™‚

Paz - When I see yellow, I always think of Barbara. πŸ™‚ Lovely sunflowers, lovely recipe, lovely post.

Krista - I feel very blessed to have known her, Jeanne, even for a short time. She impacted me greatly. πŸ™‚ Thank you for including me in paying tribute to her. XO

Jeanne Horak - Oh Krista, what a touching tribute and a beautiful post. I did not realise that you had seen her so shortly before her death – what a blessing that yo ugot to spend this precious time with her. I love her wise words to live life as beautifully as possible in the time we are given. And of course I love this dish – ultra-comforting, as you say. Thanks for taking part and sending you hugs xx

Krista - Thank you so much for your kind words, Sarah. πŸ™‚

Sarah Melamed - You were lucky to have known such a strong and giving woman. A touching post.

Krista - Thank you, Ayngelina. πŸ™‚

Krista - Yes!! She told me about her Thermomix, Valerie. πŸ™‚ She absolutely loved it and I couldn’t get over all the amazing things it does. πŸ™‚ I’m so glad you like the garlic cottage cheese – it is SO yummy. πŸ™‚

Krista - Thank you, dear Linda. xo

Krista - Thank you so much for the hugs, Jamie. They are heartily returned. πŸ™‚ I’m so glad we both got to know her a bit. We are lucky!!

Krista - She really was, Cathy. Feisty, talented, loving and fun. πŸ™‚

Krista - Thank you, dear Jenny. πŸ™‚ I’m so grateful for such good times to remember.

Ayngelina - Gorgeous photos as always!

A Canadian Foodie - Krista!
What a lovely, lovely message. I did not know Barbara nearly as well. She owned a Thermomix, as do I, and we chatted about that, now and then… more then, than now. I was impressed with her open warmth and friendliness. One never forgets that – whether in cyber space, or real life. I was so sad to hear about her death through Helene’s Blog….
She would have loved to have read this. And all of the posts for her. She definitely radiated her warmth – literally – throughout the world.
PS – the garlic cottage cheese is brilliant.

LindyLou Mac - Krista this is such a moving tribute to a wonderful lady. xx

Jamie - What a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your moments with Barbara with us. She was such an amazing, courageous and generous person and both times you spent with her illustrate that perfectly. You are lucky to have spent such times with her, Krista. Lovely. And I love the photos. Hugs to you. Comforting recipe, indeed. xo

Cathy Powell - This is a beautiful tribute to your friend Krista. She sounds like she was a lovely lady. Cathy xx

jenny_atasteoftravel - A beautiful tribute to an obviously deeply loved friend. Keep remembering the good times….

Krista - Thank you so much, Deanna. She was the very best sort of friend – the friend who loved you as you are, but inspired you to be the very best version of yourself. xo

Krista - She sure did, Val. I’m so glad she meant something to you too. πŸ™‚ xo

Deanna - I’m so sorry about your friend. She sounds like a fantastic friend. I will definitely think of her when I make these pancakes.

bellini - Such a touching post Krista. Barbara touched so many lives without even knowing.

Krista - Thank you for happy dancing, Melody! πŸ™‚ That made me smile so big. πŸ™‚

Krista - Thank you so much, Amanda. She was an amazing lady. πŸ™‚

Melody and Elle - This is a beautiful tribute to your friend, Krista. I am sorry that you and many others lost this beautiful person. My condolences for your loss and a happy dance that you got to meet her and have her as part of your life. =)

Melody Engels Goff - This is a beautiful tribute to your friend, Krista. I am sorry that you and many others lost this beautiful person. My condolences for your loss and a happy dance that you got to meet her and have her as part of your life. =)

Amanda - Lovely post and tribute to someone who will be more missed than she would ever have thought.

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *