Potatoes for Your Salad Days

Island Epicure

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A recent issue of Seattle Times carried a color-photo story about 250 acres of potatoes being about to get plowed under.  What could that farmer be thinking of? As Mike Pink, the potato farmer,  told the Times reporter, there was no point in nurturing his potato plants to maturity and then spending time and energy harvesting and trying to sell this year’s potato crop. He’d been freaked out by the novel coronavirus, and our governor’s command that we all stay home. With the restaurants closed, nobody would be going out for fish and chips or burgers and fries, or restaurant meals with mashed potatoes, Mike P. thought, so there would be no market for his spuds. None of his usual customers had put in their regular orders in April. He probably thought hoards of us would be hunkered down in front of our TV sets eating microwaved beans out of cans.

Take heart, Mr. Pink. In real life most of us normally eat at home. We sometimes make oven French fries by peeling potatoes and cutting them into French fry shapes. We toss them with olive oil, spread them on parchment lined baking sheets, then baking them in a 375 degree oven to an appetizing brown. Salt them to taste.

On hot days, we  make  potato salad early in the day and chill for a backyard picnic.  Or we nuke potatoes in our microwaves for  a quick carbohydrate to go with warmed up leftover meat and a lettuce, cucumber and tomato salad.  Without Mr. Pink’s 250 acres of potatoes, we may be eating more pasta and more rice, millet, or quinoa.

Will it be with potatoes like it was with toilet paper for a while? I don’t really think so. Potatoes do not hoard well. Unless you have a huge refrigerator your potato hoard will  soon put out inedible shoots. One thing you could do is to cut a potato or three into chunks, making sure each chunk has an “eye”. Plant them in buckets or bucket size patio pots filled with dirt or potting soil. Water them occasionally. Potato plants were once grown for their beauty, They grow perhaps eight inches tall and produce pretty little lavender blossoms. In the fall, empty the potato filled buckets. Or dig into one of your ornamental pots to harvest your home grown potatoes. return the dirt to your garden scrub the potatoes and store in a dark place until you are ready to cook them.

We usually make a plain Scandinavian type potato salad garnishing it’s stop with slices of boiled egg and a sprinkling of paprika, but we also like other varieties.  Here are, one from Germany, and one one from Poland.  These are summer salads. In winter, Germans make hot potato salad.

Kartoffelsalat
Serves 4
2 lbs. Potatoes, peeled, cooked and chopped
4 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons vinegar
1 small onion or 4 green onions with their tops, chopped
Salt and  pepper to taste
1 cup beef stock
.
Mix all ingredients in a pretty bowl.  Refrigerate until time to eat.

Salatka Kartoflana z Winem
Serves 6

2 lbs. Potatoes, cooked in salted water, then peeled and sliced
1 cup white wine
1 stalk celery, sliced and boiled in a little water
¼ cup chopped fresh dill or 1 Tablespoon dried dill
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup oil
¼ cup minced parsley
2 Tablespoons chopped chives or green onion
¼ teaspoon pepper

Pour the wine over the cooked,peeled and sliced potatoes. Puree the celery. Combine 2 Tablespoons of the celery cooking water with the celery, oil, dill, parsley, lemon juice, chives or green onion, and pepper.  Add this mixture to the potatoes. Mix. Serve and enjoy.