October 12, 2010

Pick a Potato, Any Potato!

 (photo by Airn, Dreamstime.com)

White . . . yellow . . . blue . . . purple . . . red . . . long . . . round.

Bake . . . broil . . . fry . . . boil . . . mash.

Just how do you pick a potato?

A potato's starch content determines how it should be used.  Generally, the rule is:  More starch means less moisture, meaning the potato will have a fluffier texture when cooked.

Russets are often called baking or Idaho potatoes.  They are high starch and have coarse dark skin and white flesh.  Russets are best for baking, mashing, or making french fries.

Round Whites are often called Eastern potatoes.  They are low starch with smooth, light tan skin.  They are great as scalloped or roasted side dishes, or as potato salad.

Yukon Gold potatoes have a golden inside and a butter flavor. They are medium starch and are good baked, mashed, or roasted.

New potatoes can be any kind; they are simply picked before maturity. Their skin may not adhere during cooking.

Round reds have rosy red skin with white, low starch flesh. These potatoes are usually round, and good in salads or boiled.

Blues and Purples are low starch with a slightly nutty flavor.  These are unusual, so you may have difficulty finding them.

October 9, 2010

Crisp, Golden French Fries!

Whether you pronounce it  po-tay-to or po-tah-to, potatoes are one of the most popular foods ever.  The average American eats about 126 pounds of potatoes each year.  Thank goodness they're good for us!

Potato trivia!
  • In the past, some ministers in Scotland had banned eating the potato because it is not mentioned in the Bible!
  • Instant mashed potatoes (dehydrated) were commercially introduced in 1955.
  •  Mr. Potato Head was born in 1952.  He was also the first toy to be advertised on TV.

  • The four potato head kids were Potato Puff, Lumpy, Dimples, and Spud.
    • Up until the late 18th century, the French believed potatoes caused leprosy.  They thought the outside texture resembled leprous hands and feet and, therefore, must carry the disease.
    • The potato is the fourth most important crop in the world.  It ranks after wheat, rice, and corn.
    • Marie Antoinette, wife of Louis XV, was known to wear potato blossoms in her hair as decoration. By doing so, she helped make potatoes popular.
    • French Fries were introduced to America when Thomas Jefferson served them at a White House dinner.
    • Ore-Ida began making tator tots in 1954.
    • The largest potato grown was 18 pounds, four ounces, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.  It was grown in England in 1795.
    • February is the month designated as Potato Lover's Month.
    • Wendy's  introduced the baked potato to its menu in November of 1983.
    Now, want a foolproof way to make French Fries?  Follow these directions, and you won't be disappointed!

    1.  Scrub potato skin, or peel.  Cut into strips, any size you want.
    2.  Fry in 325 degree oil for two minutes; remove.  This part can be done up to one hour ahead.
    3.  Fry again at 375 degrees for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes, until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.  Sprinkle salt over them--I like using sea salt.

    You will have crisp, golden french fries!

    October 6, 2010

    The Best Pumpkin Bread Ever!

     (photo by Gengberg, Dreamstime.com)

    Over twenty years ago, a friend gave me this recipe for pumpkin bread.  I still remember her exact words:  "You can't mess it up.  It always gets right."  Now that's my kind of recipe!  Thanks, Rosene!

    Every fall when I see pumpkins for sale, I know it's time for the best pumpkin bread  ever.  This recipe is moist, just the way I like it.  It's easy, too. And Rosene was right--I have never messed it up; it has always gotten right!  I have some in the oven right now, and it's smelling like I just can't wait to have a piece!

    The Best Pumpkin Bread Ever

    1 teaspoon nutmeg
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    3 cups sugar (I use only 2 cups and it is sweet enough for me.)
    1 cup oil
    4 eggs
    1-1/2 teaspoon salt

    Beat together all the above.  Then add one cup cooked pumpkin, 2/3 cups water, 2 teaspoons baking soda, and 3 cups flour.

    Grease and flour 3 coffee cans (1 lb cans).  Fill until the three cans are equally full.

    Bake 350 degrees for 50 minutes to an hour.  Cool and remove from cans.

    Then indulge! It's delicious toasted for breakfast, or as a dessert.  The tops of this bread get like the tops of muffins--crusty and oh, so-o-o good.  You can double this recipe and freeze it.

    You can play around with this recipe--it will still get right!   Some things I have done over the years:
    • Added walnuts and/or raisins
    • Used a 9 x 12 pan instead of the coffee cans.  
    • One time I didn't have enough granulated sugar, so I used some brown sugar.
    • I have added a lot more cooked pumpkin than 1 cup.  If  I have more pumpkin than the recipe says and I don't want to throw it out and have no other use for it, I just add all of it!
    • A few times I've been short an egg or two.
    • I've added more of a variety of spices 
    • And I can't forget this one! A few years ago I turned on the oven to preheat and proceeded to mix the pumpkin bread.  When I went to put the batter in the oven, it wasn't hot. My oven had died. But I had all this batter on hand!  So I put the batter in a frying pan with a lid and cooked it on the stove top. The edges burned, but the rest was still edible, pumpkin bread.  I don't want to repeat this "method", but it worked in a pinch!
    I just took my pumpkin bread out of the oven and put on the coffee.  How soon can you get here?  I'll save one of the "muffin tops" for you!

    October 4, 2010

    Bloopers in Church Bulletins

    (Photo by Janahorova, Dreamstime.com)
    What's the first thing you do when you sit down in church?  That's right, you scan the bulletin.  So since you're not reading carefully, you may miss these noted bloopers in church bulletins!
    • Rev. Nelson spoke briefly, much to the delight of the audience.
    • In a church bulletin during the minister's illness:  GOD IS GOOD; Dr. Mitchell is better.
    • Applications are now being accepted for two-year-old nursery workers.
    • The pastor will preach his farewell message, after which the choir will sing, "Break Forth Into Joy."
    • Barbara remains in the hospital.  She is having trouble sleeping and is requesting tapes of Pastor Bomberger's sermons.
    • During the absence of Pastor Jones, we enjoyed the rare privilege of hearing a good sermon when P.G. Smith filled our pulpit.
    • The ushers will come forward and take our ties and offerings.
    • Don't let worry kill you off--let the church help.
    • Jessica and Matt request your presents at their wedding.
    • Low Self-Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday from 6:30 to 7:30 P.M.   Please use the back door.
    • The 2009 Spring Council Retreat will be hell on August 3 and 4.
    • The choir invites any member of the congregation who enjoys sinning to join the choir.
    •  Please remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community. 
    • Weight Watchers will meet at 7:00 P.M.  Please use the large double door at the side entrance. 
    • Potluck Supper this Thursday evening at 6:00.  Prayer and medication to follow.