Potatoes make their way into millions of shopping carts every day. It's the old standby for most of us, it goes with practically any meal and there's hardly a person who dislikes them. I'm never without potatoes, I only vary the kind I buy. Right now we have baby reds and russets in the potato bin. My bin is actually a shallow wicker basket that's lined with newspaper and it sets on the floor of my kitchen pantry. It's dark and gets enough circulation that I rarely have to throw one away. We can thank Luther Burbank for the Russet Burbank, it was a lifesaver coming along just at the right time to end the Irish potato famine. That blight nearly wiped out all of Ireland's potato crop. Many poor people starved to death, the ones that survived moved to other places, including the United States.
When we think of potatoes, Idaho comes to mind... but actually potatoes are grown commercially in 36 states. It's almost the perfect food; fat, sodium and cholesterol free, low in calories and loaded with nutrients. One medium potato has nearly half the day's requirement for Vitamin C and more potassium than a banana. A great antioxidant, potatoes contain glutathione that may help protect against some cancers. That's well worth the 110 calories! You thought there were more calories in there, didn't you? Well, it's what we do with the potato that gives them a bad reputation! By the time we load them up with butter, sour cream, shredded Cheddar and bacon bits... that healthy baked potato is now a full meal of calories! The russett also is the chosen potato for french fries and potato chips, all I can say is...
"Thank you Lord" for the potato!
For the Barrett family who grow under the Springlake, Seminole Chief and Muleshoe brands, their story goes back over 100 years. Starting in Idaho in 1910 Fred Spencer Barrett grew and shipped his first crop of potatoes, shipped by rail to St. Louis and Chicago. By 1939, he was convinced that the Texas Panhandle's climate, soil and water had the right conditions for growing a superior quality potato. Fred Barrett moved his wife and 8 children to pursue his dream of growing and producing a potato crop using a mechanical planter instead of by hand. He developed more efficient irrigation methods that allowed him to have a presence in the southwest market. Those first few years were hard, but they survived. Today they draw from those early years and now use cutting edge technology in the production of their potatoes. GPS-driven tractors, computer-assisted irrigation and electronic grading. Their commitment took them through two World Wars, a depression, a dust bowl and many other hardships through the years. The Barretts' now are five generations strong and they take great pride in the part they have played in making high quality potatoes available every day of the year in American homes.
leftover mashed potatoes
ground beef, browned and drained (or leftover beef roast, cut in bite size pieces)
half an onion, chopped
celery, corn or just frozen peas and carrots
salt and pepper
Cheddar cheese, shredded
In a medium skillet, cook the onion and other uncooked veggies until they get soft. Add the beef, cooked veggies, and enough to broth to moisten everything and cook until warmed through. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a casserole dish and cover with leftover mashed potatoes. Put on a good amount of cheese and sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes, until the potatoes are golden brown.
How you store your potatoes makes a big difference in their shelf life. When you bring home a bag of potatoes, you need to go through them to make sure there aren't any green, bruised or soft ones. In fact, give that bag a good once over before you leave the store. You can easily spot a bad one. The best tip of all is to find a cool, dark place with good ventilation to store your potatoes. The ideal temperature to store them is between 50 and 60 degrees, the temperature of many garages in the winter is perfect. Transfer them to a brown grocery bag or a cardboard box to keep the light out. A single ripe apple will prevent the potatoes from sprouting since the apple produces ethylene gas and will lengthen the time you can keep your potatoes. Armed with all these suggestions, go ahead and buy that 20 pound bag of russets and reap the rewards of buying in bulk!
I'd like to say a big Thank You to the nice folks at the Farmer's Co-op who allowed me to have this Thursday platform to talk about a subject near and dear to my heart, farming in America. I've enjoyed sharing some of my family's history, gardening tips and even a few recipes. I want to encourage you to visit your local hometown Co-ops where old-fashioned service has never went out of style! Since 1944 their mission and purpose has been to provide quality supplies and services to both members and non-members in the community. Thirteen locations, Ten in Arkansas: Fort Smith, Branch, Bentonville, Fayetteville, Van Buren, Waldron, Lincoln, Greenwood, Ozark and Subiaco; and three in Oklahoma: Poteau, Westville, and Sallisaw.