Am I the only one around here who reads cookbooks at the beach? At the poolside? In bed at night? Please tell me there are others out there like me. Perhaps another eccentric soul who owns nearly 100 cookbooks (at the last count). Who reads cookbooks like novels.

Maybe we can form a support group or something.

What's ironic is that with all the cookbooks I own, I rarely cook from cookbooks. I like to make up my own - mostly pretty simple - recipes. Sure, they're very much inspired by all the cookbooks I've read. And I certainly reference my cookbooks for ideas. But I almost always just 'wing it.'

This recipe is the simplest potato dish ever. Use the best ingredients you can find. Local freshly harvested potatoes if possible. Herbs from your garden or a local farm. And the finest olive oil you can afford.

Simple Roasted Potatoes
serves 6

8 medium red potatoes, scrubbed clean and dried
2 tablespoons olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
Leaves from 10 sprigs of thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon paprika, optional
Sour cream, optional

Preheat the oven to 425*. Chop the potatoes evenly into 1-inch pieces.

In a large bowl, combine the potatoes with the olive oil, garlic, thyme, salt and paprika. Mix well.

Spread the potatoes evenly in a large heavy non-disposable baking sheet. Make sure the potatoes are spread in ONE layer. If you need to, use two baking sheets so the potatoes are not in the least bit crowded. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, more of less, stirring occasionally to be sure the potatoes are browning evenly.

Serve hot, with sour cream if desired.