Potatoes Enjoy Popularity
by Delbert Trew
through time, the potato has been known as poor-people or working-man's food.
Discovered in Peru in 1532, the tubers were first carried to Europe as a botanical
curiosity. Tests showed the potato might be a possible economical source of food
for peasants. |
English landlords began growing the vegetable as a cheap staple
for their tenants and by the early 1700s, the crop became important throughout
Europe especially Ireland and Scotland. Not only is the potato nutritious, it's
easy to grow in almost all climates and produces abundantly. Most important, it
needs no process of manufacture. Just dig, store and eat as needed.
The Trews have always enjoyed potatoes cooked in any fashion. We certainly fit
the description of poor and working class as the depression and dust bowl kept
us in bad financial condition until it finally started raining in the late 1930s.
farm families became potato raising experts. First, came soil preparation as potato
hills need drainage. Rotten hay around the plants is preferred by some housewives
as it allows them to rob new potatoes without disturbing the plant. Many old-timers
considered new potatoes and poke salad a remedy for clearing the body of winter
doldrums - whatever that means.
Planting and digging dates were determined
by the signs of the moon and shown in "The Farmer's Almanac." It was a cardinal
sin not to obey these time-tested rules. You young people will be surprised to
learn raising was a complicated process. Here are some things to do.
First, at potato digging time, select the very best specimens with the most eyes,
(potato plants sprout from the eyes), and bury them against the back wall of the
root cellar to be eaten only if the family is hungry. Second, sort out all small,
damaged or spotted specimens and eat them immediately so they don't spoil. Bury
the rest in dry sand in the root cellar so they don't touch.
time in the early spring, slice the seed potatoes into chunks making sure two
eyes are showing on each chunk. Shake lime over the chunks to protect from insects.
Plant the chunks before they dry out. There is still argument of whether to place
the eyes down or up in the row. Then merely cover them with dirt. The plant is
a beautiful lush green color.
mother always peeled potatoes, cooking the peelings in coarse cornbread along
with table scraps to feed the greyhounds. Grandma Trew scrubbed, peeled and cooked
the peelings separately then poured the peeling juice into a fruit jar for soup
Most old cowboys and bachelor cooks sliced potatoes and onions
into a hot skillet to make greasy potatoes. I've never attended a church gathering
that didn't have scalloped potatoes to offer. Mashed potatoes is my favorite dish
with baked potatoes a close second. On a cold day, potato soup laced with onions
and black pepper will knock the chill in a hurry.
I seriously doubt my
children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren could survive today without french
fries and ketchup. Long live the potato, you have been a good dependable friend.
© Delbert Trew
All Trew" November
15 , 2004 column