Saturday, June 22, 2013

In Praise of the Lovely Potato

  First off, Several readers have told me how they have benefited from using cast iron for their cooking. Almost identical stories about how they were anemic and could never give blood, but after using cast iron for about a year, the counts went up, and they were able to donate. (Besides feeling more frisky!) So, there you go. It's worth a try.
     Many years ago, I saw this potato bin at a yard sale. I really wanted it, but I didn't have that much money. I shamelessly flirted with the guy, and he sold it to me for $2.00 dollars. I tell you, it works. And I'm glad I did it, too, because I use this everyday, and its charming and its practical and it should last me the rest of the time that I need a potato bin.
     Believe me. I am a potato pro. If I heaped up all the potatos I've dealt with all these years. It would be a pile bigger than my house. The iron horse cowboy is of the opinion that you have to have potatos every day, at least once, in order to survive the vagaries of life. He always says he is not a fussy eater, beacause all he likes is meat and potatos, so what what could be less complicated than that? I leave it to you to make your own judgement. (I sometimes like noodle-ey stuff, too ).
      Potatos are really quite lovely. They look nice. Even the lumpy full of dirt, just from the potato field ones. They are so versatile. You can't even imagine how many different ways you can make them. Any meal of the day.

      You even have a choice of color. Red, white, yellow, even blue and purple. I did try the blue ones, once, but it just looked too, something... they tasted fine, though. I like the tiny little ones. You don't have to cut 'em or peel 'm. Just put 'em in the pot and give 'em a boil. I found out you don't have to peel potatos, ever, if you don't want to. The skins are the healthiest part anyway, so why waste the time and product? When I had seven teenage sons at home, I went through ten pounds of potatos every night. I learned pretty quickly to not worry about peeling. The peels give a great texture to mashed, are a bonus to boiled, fried, or scalloped.
       Once I even tried to grow potatos. I cut all the "eye pieces"  and placed them in my lovely, crumbly soil that I had hoed my trench in.It was pure luck that the property we bought when we came to New England was all loam and sand to make it friable. No rocks. No rocks. It is unheard of around these parts. You know all those stone walls? They picked those rocks to try to make pastures and gardens. But more just come popping up with the frost every winter. It's a losing battle. Mostly the farmers pulled stakes and moved west. They probably went out and ran that prairie soil through their fingers every day, and said a thank you prayer. For no rocks.
       Any way, I soon had four lovely, long rows of the most beautiful potato plants you would ever want to see. And I hoed out the weeds and hilled up the dirt around each plant, just like you are supposed to. Oh, I had a good feeling about those potatos! They blossomed. Sometimes, I'd even sneak a peak underneath. Yup. Little teeny tiny spuds. Can't wait. Then, alas and alack. I go out to do my daily hoeing, and what do I see? Potato bugs. Millions of 'em. On every plant. Just munching away. I ask you.. Where do they come from? I never have seen another potato patch around the neighborhod anywhere. They are called Colorado potato beetles. Did they fly in from Colorado in the night? Or did a couple sneak in and have an orgy?
         So, I bribe my boys to go out and pick the little critters off my plants. They get empy coffee cans and go out to slay the enemy. Its  a losing battle, too. Just like the rocks. You cant squish 'em fast enough. Any how, they don't care about any other plants, thank goodness. I know, I could have bought chemicals. But, you know. That just ain't right. So the beautiful potato plants all fell down. I mean, I dug up what I could. It was a pitiful small bowl of pitiful small potatos. All my hard work. I should of sat down and cried. But I didn't. I cooked 'em all up and ate 'em for supper. (The spuds, not the bugs.)
       "We have potatos for breakfast and potatos for noon. If it weren't for potatos we would soon be undoon." Old colonial saying.  So lets start with potatos for breakfast!
          First you have to cook potatos for supper the night before. Sneak out some before you mash them, or eat then as boiled potatos, just incase everyone is really hungry and they eat them all. Then there wouldn't be any left. Sad, but true. 
                  Breakfast Potatos
        ( We call them home fries, here in New England.)
           And they are NOT hashbrowns. Period.
            Heat up your cast iron skillet. You want it to be smoking hot. Drop in a dab of butter (or margarine). It will melt and turn smokey and brown. Add chopped onions. How much depends on how much you like onions. Of course, if you don't like onions, then leave them out. Add your chopped potatos. You can cut them the size you want. I like them fairly small. Then you sprinkle them liberally with Lawrys Season Salt. This is esential to good home fries. Trust me.
             Be careful when you put them in the skillet so you don't get burned with smoking hot butter. Stir just enough to mix everything evenly, and then let 'em cook. Thats it. You want them to get a nice brown crustiness to them, so when the bottoms get crusty, flip 'em over and brown the other side. Umm Hmm. Fry up some eggs and you just got a real good thing.
                 If last nights potatos were mashed, you do pretty much the same thing. Get your cast iron smokey hot. Add your butter (or margarine). Shape the cold mashed potatos into nice thick patties, slide 'm into the smokey butter. Little sprinkle of Lawrys. Let them get nice and crispy, then turn them over and crisp the other side. Add eggs. These are good with a little butter or sour cream, too, if you like all that good stuff.                                        


Of course, there's no law saying you can't eat other kinds of potatos for breakfast. It's a free country, here in the good old USA. Another day, we will talk about potatos for the other times of day.
By the way, these CAN be made for lunch or supper, too. No law against that , either!