mai - I guess I was doing it right and not even knowing it! LOL
Dianne, when I do just plain hash browns I grate the potatoes, put in water in refrigerator (just do what you do with your straw fries).
Squeeze out water really, really good on some lint-free towels. Salt and pepper really well. You can either add grated onion or not, it doesn't matter.
Heat some oil in a skillet. When hot put in potatoes like a big pancake. Once browned on one side just flip over and cook on other side. You can also do smaller ones too.
BUT, my favorite way to do potatoes for breakfast is to just cube a potatoe, put in cold water, (you know). Dice a large yellow onion and carmelize in butter in skillet. Once almost carmelized remove and add potato cubes. Finish cooking onion with potatoes. I like to get them nice and brown. Oh, and salt and pepper of course. But if you can find Nature's Seasoning (green cap I think) it is the best on hash browns.
Edited to say that sometimes I just cube the potatoes and onion and put in a microwave-safe container, add some pepper and Nature's Seasoning, cover with plastic wrap and start out for 10 minutes. Finish cooking until tender.
"Count yourself...you ain't so many" - quote from Buck's Daddy