The Folklore Food Blog: A Big Fat Potato

A Big Fat Potato

A big, fat potato lay down on a clod
In the shade of some burdock and tall goldenrod,
And he dreamed he were king of the whole garden plot,
With a palace and throne, and a crown with a lot
Of jewels and diamonds and gold till it shone
Like the front of a show when the lights are turned on.
He had to be minded by all of the plants;
When he whistled, the radishes knew they must dance;
When he tooted his horn the cucumbers must sing
To a vegetable crowd gathered round in a ring.
He made all the cabbages stand in a row
While a sunflower instructed them just how to grow;
The bright yellow pumpkins he painted light blue;
Took the clothes off the scarecrow and made him buy new.
He strutted and sputtered and thought it was grand
To be king and commander o’er all the wide land.
But at last, he woke up with an awful surprise
And found a blind mole kicking sand in his eyes.

A long history made short. The Inca Indians in Peru were the first to cultivate potatoes around 8,000 BC to 5,000 B.C. Sir Walter Raleigh introduced the potato to Ireland in 1589. Sir Walter Raleigh was an English gentleman, writer, poet, soldier, politician, courtier, spy, and explorer. For the sake of sacrificing historical context to archetypal myth, Sir Walter Raleigh is most noted for his love of the potato. So much so that Queen Elizabeth I conspired with him to further the subjugation of the Irish to keep them farming potatoes in servitude. There are over 4,000 varieties of potatoes, with only a few on the American market.

Big fat potato offers children a wide range of kitchen tasks; peeling washing, measuring and mixing. Kids learn that a good vinaigrette has a two to one ratio of oil to vinegar and how to blanch vegetables. Blanching is a cooking process where food, a vegetable or fruit, is plunged into boiling water, removed after a brief time, to make tender, (green beans are a great example) then plunged into iced water or placed under cold running water (shocked) to halt the cooking process. Kids also learn to peel, pick, blanch, shock, measure, mix, and learn the basic principles of sautéing.

Culinary Terms:
Blanch: Plunge vegetables, fruit, or seafood into boiling water for a very brief amount of time to bring out the color or to loosen skins for peeling. It is best to blanch vegetables and then refresh under cold, running water.
Shock: To immerse hot food (vegetables) into ice water to stop the cooking process.

Warm Potato and garden vegetable salad.
2 cups diced Potato
2 cups diced Pumpkin or Butternut squash
½ cucumber
2 cups green beans
¼ red cabbage
¼ cup sunflower seeds

1. Peel and dice the potatoes and pumpkin. Blanch in boiling water until tender and ready to eat. Remove dry and let cool on a sheet pan. Blanch the green beans and shock in cold water to stop the cooking. Shave the cabbage and slice the cucumber.
2. Sauté the potatoes and pumpkin until slightly browned. Season well. Toss all the Ingredients: together with the vinaigrette and serve as a first course or to accompany roast lamb.

Delicious Vinaigrette
4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil.
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 clove garlic peeled and crushed
1 sprig fresh thyme
Fresh cracked black pepper to taste
1. Combine the above ingredients in a jar, use what you need and store the remainder for later.

Vinaigrette: Salad dressing of oil, wine vinegar, and seasoning.

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