Friday, November 4, 2011

When food is blue

No, I don't mean my food is sad. I mean I actually made a dish the other night which Shane and I are still giggling about. I used the blue potatoes I grew over the summer (the last of them, unfortunately!) to make some mashed potatoes for a yummy dish my mom and I make. Most people have never seen a blue potato, so I thought I'd show you:

I had a friend over for dinner a while ago and when I cut open the potatoes she asked, "Are they supposed to look like that?" Yep, they're blue all the way through. Neat, huh? A lot of times the inner pigment disappears, like when I put them in chicken soup. The peels stay blue, but the rest becomes whitish.
I've never made mashed potatoes out of just blue potatoes before. All right, all right, the one white potato I managed to grow this summer went in there too. But everything else was blue! And it turns out, boiling them for a while doesn't take away the blue tint. Although it did turn the water green. Instead, when you make mashed potatoes out of blue potatoes, you get this:

Shane got a nice laugh out of it when I gave him his plate. All I could think was how cool it will be when we have kids and I get to make blue dinners for them. Plus, it made really good mashed potatoes. That might have been because of all the butter I added, though....
We'll have to get more potatoes from my mother-in-law when we go to the Peninsula for Thanksgiving. Before TV shows and political "news" commentators started talking about school lunches and how kids these days don't know what real vegetables look like, my mother-in-law (who works for the school district) has been letting kids go to her garden every year to plant and then dig up potatoes so that they learn about science, gardening, and where food comes from. The kids get to plant red, white, and blue potatoes just for fun. But my in-laws end up with way more potatoes than they could ever eat (and yes, they do give some to the food bank) and that's where all of our potatoes come from. Whatever we have left at the beginning of planting season gets used as my seed potatoes. This is actually the first year I've managed to grow more than a few small blue potatoes. Usually the red and white ones dominate.
I once had a friend tell me that a report they'd read said that it's not financially worth it to grow your own potatoes. They're so cheap at the store, why bother? This report was based on the assumption that you'd be buying new seed potatoes every year, rather than saving old potatoes the way most farmers/growers will. What bothered me the most, though, was that this report doesn't take into account the cool varieties that you can grow but which you'll never find in the grocery store. For me, growing a few potatoes every year is well worth it for the fun of having different and colorful varieties. They're also the easiest food crop I've grown. The only attention they really need is to be hilled every once in a while--the dirt needs to be built up around them so that the potatoes will grow bigger, which is why a lot of home gardeners grow them in old tires or other stackable structures. They grow in pretty much any type of soil, and I've forgotten to water them for several weeks in mid-summer before but they don't care. I know a lot of people say that if you have any space at all and want to grow something, it should be herbs. But if you have access to even the smallest patch of ground where you could stack some tires, I say grow potatoes.
It's very hard to type with a cat in front of the screen.

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