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Friday, April 24, 2009

"Tater Middles"

Well, we are back to snow and cold. Yesterday, we had some more snow flurries and today the sky is a beautiful blue but at this writing the temperature is below freezing. In order to get spring and summer I guess I am going to have to move south.

The weather last week was so beautiful I went with my friend to buy some potatoes so she can plant them. She has a method for planting potatoes that I have never seen before. She takes a 30 gallon garbage can and cuts it in half. Then she cuts out the bottom. She fills each of the pieces with dirt and compost and plants her potatoes in the cans and covers them with straw. At harvest time she takes the cans away and the dirt falls out and she has her plant and potatoes in a pile. The dirt goes back into the ground. Very easy she says. It reminded me of all the hard work we did planting potatoes when we were growing up.

We had to plant enough potatoes to do us for a year. We never went to the store and bought potatoes in plastic bags…they just didn’t sell them that way. We would usually plant about a half acre of potatoes. My dad always believed in planting potatoes on Good Friday so we had to be ready to plant.

We did our plowing and planting with our old horse “Dan” faithfully dragging the plow to till the ground, harrowing it to break up the clods of dirt, dragging it to break up the smaller clumps and make the dirt really smooth, then laying it off into rows or furrows to plant the potatoes.

A couple of days before we were ready to plant we would go out to the "potato hole" and gather together a couple bushels of last year’s potatoes, the ones that had nice eyes or shriveled up ones that had begun to root. We would cut the eyes out of the potatoes leaving the middles. Because we never wasted anything, especially food, the middles all went into a pot to be made into mashed potatoes for supper that night. The potato pieces with eyes were left to set for a couple days before they were planted.

On Good Friday we were all at the “tater patch”. “Ol Dan” would make a nice furrow to put the potatoes in. We would drop potatoes in the furrow making sure the eyes were right side up. Our job as kids were to step on each potato piece to push them into the dirt. Then they were covered . This took two people - one on each side of the row to make a hill of dirt over the potatoes.

In a couple weeks you would see the little specks of green poking through the dirt on the tops of the hills. You would also see lots of green in between the rows…those were the weeds. Those were our responsibility. As the potatoes grew so did the weeds and we would have to pull the weeds and throw them across the fence for the pigs to eat. It was their way of getting their greens and the potato patch got weeded at the same time.

Along about mid summer there would be small potatoes and we would dig some to go with a pot of peas. To this day, I still love potatoes and peas cooked together with a white sauce. My father in law used to make a dish similar which he called Fresh Pea Soup. He added other vegetables such as carrots and dill heads to it.. It was soooo good.

I’m getting hungry now so I’m going to the kitchen, taking the box off the shelf, adding some water, some milk and a little butter and I will end up with a bowl of mashed potatoes. However, I can guarantee they won’t be as good as “tater middles”.

That's it for Today.


Gypsy said...

I love my potatos, and don't even bother to mash them most of the time. Heck, I don't even peel them - just wash the small red potatos good and the skins are just as good as the insides.

I might even cook up some with peas and make a white sauce this weekend!


Speedy said...

We just love it. I hope you save all these stories for the kids. I never lived on a farm but I did eat taters....

Joe and Sherri

Debbie and Rod said...

Okay, being the "city girl" that you call me, I NEVER eat potatoes out of a box. EVER. And now for the "city girl" question. What are dill heads?


Yarntangler said...

I've just discovered your blog and am totally enjoying it. I hope you mean that you are making a bowl of mashed taters just for yourself. That's a guilty pleasure I learned to indulge in from an ex girlfriend of my son. best idea she ever had!