Thursday, June 10, 2010

Your punishment today is....

The other day, I was making some mashed potatoes and as I placed a pot of water on the stove to boil, I started to work on my giant Idaho potatoes. While peeling them each, slowly as to not hurt myself by peeling off a layer of my skin, I remembered a story that I once heard about that peeling potatoes was a punishment in the army.  I remember seeing the comic strips with Beetle Bailey peeling them and I even recently saw an old episode of Merrie Melodies where Bugs Bunny was sent to peel some as a punishment.  But did it really happen?

  So, the best I can find is, that it was a punishment.  This nightshade family member is a huge source of starch, carbs, fiber and even some vitamin C.  It also is a source of Thiamin, Niacin, Folate, B6, Pantothenic Acid, Iron Magnesium, Potassium and copper.  This wonderful vegetable is a chameleon that can adjust and take on any culinary role, from sweet to savory.  The potato was likely first domesticated around 3,000 BC and then spread to Europe and eventually the world.  Which makes me think that even ancient peoples knew how versatile this vegetable turned out to be.

So the next time you are stuck there peeling and peeling those potatoes to the point where you feel your arms getting tired and ready to fall off from exhaustion, think of how you are preparing a wonderful and ancient vegetable to be shared and enjoyed.

If you didn't have an idea, let's think of just five ways that you can prepare potatoes: using the 5 methods of cooking, baking, boiling, frying, grilling and steaming.  You could  bake a potato in a microwave for about 2-3 minutes.  You could peel them, boil them, shove them through a ricer, and make some awesome mashed potatoes.  You could chop them through a mandolin and make some potato chips in some hot oil.  You could slice them long ways and lay them on a grill, grilling each side like one long potato chip or one wide french fry.  You could also mash them up, mix them with some flour, making some potato dumplings and then steam them to make puffy but heavy balls of potato fluff.

You know, I'm not an expert on potatoes, but I'd be willing to bet that there are over a million different ways to prepare potatoes.  I'd have to check my Escoffier book at home and see how many are in there as well.  At least with potatoes, you can't really screw up.  So, when you go to the store tonight, pick up some potatoes and make something yummy.

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