Busting nutrition misinformation–Sometimes you get a bad rep for no good reason.

The Potato is much more than the sum of its rumors.

potatoes 3

Potatoes are a wild food plant (as most food plants once were) indigenous to the Andes. The potato was domesticated between 7000 and 10,000 years ago and there are currently over 100 varieties of potatoes.

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The humble potato was introduced to the Western World approximately 400 years ago and the Western World fell in love with this compact tasty nutritious tuber, so much so that the potato is now ubiquitous.

Unfortunately in recent years the humble and nutrient-rich potato has sprouted an undeserved bad reputation. The potato is way more than its derivative, the French fry-itself a much-maligned food that tastes pretty dang good and is pretty darn satisfying. What’s not to like about a French fry? French fries have their place in the potato hierarchy, but there are many other ways to cook a potato. (More on cooking later.)

So as I’m sure you know the potato is a member of the Nightshade family along with the tomato, chili/pepper, eggplant and tomatillo. All of these vegetables, or rather, fruits, are in the same family as the Deadly Nightshade- Atropa belladonna- long used as a poison, yes, but also in medications. In hospice we use medicines derived from the Atropa belladonna – scopolamine and atropine in addition to a mixture of medications, hyoscyamine, all of which help to dry up secretions and decrease nausea and vomiting. Atropine drops are used to dilate the pupils for an eye exam. Atropine is also the antidote for organophosphate and carbamate poisoning- pesticides derived from nerve gas. So a member of the potato family is an antidote to nerve gas and has been used to kill a Cesar’s wife.

Deadly Nightshade

Deadly Nightshade

Were you aware some pesticides were derived from nerve gas? I am because I once suffered from a case of organophospate poisoning. Not because I used it. I’ve never used pesticides, but because I was accidentally exposed. Let me tell you– you don’t want to suffer from nerve gas exposure, even an extremely dilute version of it.

Oh yeah, so anyway, there’s your potato. The good mixed with the deadly. Let’s discuss the good.

Forget the nonsense. 

Potatoes. Are. Not. Empty. Calories.

1. Potatoes are high in anti-oxidants– those things that decrease inflammation in the body. Potatoes contain carotenoids, flavonoids, caffeic acid (also in wine, a very potent anti-oxidant), and a number of unique proteins which act as anti-oxidants.

2.  Potatoes are rich in vitamins and minerals! Among them– B6, B3, Vitamin C, phosphorus, manganese, copper, potassium, niacin and pantothenic acid.

3.  Fiber. Potatoes are loaded with fiber.

4.  Potatoes contain compounds which lower blood pressure and stabilize blood sugar, protect against cancer and heart disease.

potatoes

Easy Ways to Cook Potatoes:

I tend to buy and grow small Yukon Gold or tiny red potatoes or Andean Blue or French fingerlings. The smaller the potatoes the faster they cook.

In the microwave– I arrange the potatoes on a glass plate, cook on high for 4-6 minutes, check them, and cook another 3-4 minutes and then let them sit until I’m ready to either finish them on a grill or saute them with butter and onions, parsley, salt, pepper and paprika.

In the oven– I toss the potatoes with some extra virgin (You can never be too much virgin, right?) olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast at 375′ for 30-40 minutes.

But what about mashed potatoes? I have kind of a different take on mashed potatoes, as in I’m not a big fan. Mashed potatoes often play the role of cipher – plopped on the plate to soak up gravy rather than standing on their own.

Instead of boiling my potatoes for mashed potatoes, I roast 1-2 lbs of Yukon Gold with just a drizzle of olive oil and a tiny sprinkling of salt, along with a couple of garnet yams – which I wrap in foil to keep separate, and a head of garlic– slice off the top, drizzle with olive oil, wrap in foil and roast. I toss all into my mixer with 4 Tbs. unsalted butter- room temp, 3/4 cup buttermilk- room temp, salt, pepper and a little bit of minced fresh rosemary. Mix but don’t over-mix. Over-mixing makes for gluey mashed potatoes. This way the mashed potatoes taste wonderful all alone.

Take away message– Don’t be scared. Eat potatoes.

*** Note*** Unripe (or green) potatoes, contain a naturally occurring toxin called solanine. Bad for you. Choose wisely. Choose ripe potatoes.

My Dad.

I’m not one of those women who feels slighted or hurt if I’m not recognized on Mother’s Day– even though I am a mother.

I have a pretty jaundiced view of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day. As far as I’m concerned these holidays are designed to acknowledge the hard work and contributions of card companies and florists.

Yeah, call me a cynic. ‘Cuz I am.

On the other hand, I love my dad. I respect and admire him. He’s a good dad. Given the opportunity he would have been a better dad, even a great dad. It’s just that our messed up family dynamics didn’t allow him to reach his full potential. But still, he’s a good dad. My father is honest to a fault. He’s kind to children and animals. He hasn’t a cruel bone in his body. He adores his daughters.

I remember my father angry once, and only once. My mother had gone for the day and left us in his care. It was a school holiday so he had to work from home. As kids do when they know their monitor is otherwise occupied, we went a little nuts. We were seven, five and three. Ran screaming through the house for hours. Scattered toys everywhere. Engaged in a food fight.

I remember my father sitting at the dining room table, his law books spread out before him. He was preparing for a major child custody case. He had his head in his hands, trying to concentrate while my sisters and I had a big old pillow fight in the living room with the decorative pillows our mother had made verboten. No touching on pain of death!

My father pushed himself up from his chair. In a tone I’d never before heard, he said, “God. Damn. It.”

Three little words and we scattered at the speed of light. We gathered in my bedroom, hushed, trembling. We exchanged glances. We were so ashamed. We’d really done it. It was the first and last time we ever pushed my father.

So what do I think? I think he’s a remarkable man. I’m lucky he’s my dad.

He’s in his eighties now, still sharp as a tack, still speed-walks three miles a day, still reads everything he can get his hands on, still has endless patience with children and animals. Never utters a complaint.

I don’t know how much time he has left so I cherish every moment we spend together.

Love you, dad, with all my heart.

A fuzzy photo but Happy Father's Day, dad.

A fuzzy photo but here’s my dad.

 

 

Remember our fallen warriors.

I know it’s a fun holiday weekend. But while we’re off having a good old time, let’s remember why we can have a good old time.

Thanks for your sacrifice.

In gratitude.

In gratitude.

You want to hear a sad story? (Probably not.) When I was in middle school – 7th grade – a dear friend’s older brother, 18 years old, was killed in Vietnam, killed by a sniper. It was a devastating blow to our small, close-knit community where everybody knows everybody else. Right after our high school graduation, my friend married another one of our friends. He and she had three children. He died of a heart attack when he was 36 years old. He’s buried next to his brother.

I don’t often think of my high school days– I alternated between nerd-ville and wild and crazy. I graduated a year early, Doesn’t matter. I still remember the day Jeff learned his brother had been killed. I remember the shock I felt at hearing about Jeff’s untimely death.

Sorry to be a captain bring-down. Have a wonderful weekend, just take a moment to recall why we have this wonderful weekend.

I could get used to this!

Oscar is away for two weeks. It’s amazing how much free time I have. What an incredible discovery!

I’ve only done laundry once. Dishes twice- in the dishwasher and that was just because there were some specific dishes I needed and I didn’t feel like washing them by hand.

I’ve barely cooked a meal. I’m eating salads and grilled cheese to my heart’s content. Working my way through a couple bottles of wine. Yeah, savoring the Pinot.

Baked a chocolate cake for Mother’s Day, ate one piece and froze the rest. I did hear from all my kids. Miss them terribly but two of the three are out of town. My son lives maybe 90 minutes away but he’s been working so much he didn’t feel like driving in and I didn’t feel like guilting him into doing so.

It’s just… Wow! And a little weird. Jake and I are pretty boring if left to our own devices so Oscar better get home soon!

Oh! So here’s the garden news. I harvested all the lettuce except for some leaf lettuce growing in planters. It was taking up too much space and I’d been supplying the entire block for a month. The lettuce, or mixed greens, are now blanched and in the freezer. I cut back the arugula, cooked it up with some prosciutto and chilies. Saving that for Oscar. He gets back on Wednesday.

I harvested the last of the radishes before they could bolt. They’re all bagged up in the fridge for the hubster.

I used the space to plant more eggplant – Black Satin and Japanese, and Thai chilies because my daughter in Montana demands Thai chilies. I already have eggplants, jalapenos, Fresno chilies, poblano chilies and mole chilies growing. I need extra eggplants because I’ll be shipping the fruit to Montana weekly– along with chilies.

some of the eggplants and chilies

some of the eggplants and chilies

Did you know potatoes, eggplants, chilies/peppers, tomatoes and tomatillos are all members of the deadly nightshade family? Along with cape gooseberries and goji berries– also known as superfoods. 

Once again my volunteer potatoes are taking over the world- Damn those French fingerlings! Delicious little suckers. My purple beans look great. The squash is minding its own business. Still getting some asparagus. The white turnips are huge. I gave in and planted one tomato plant. I tend to resist tomatoes because like potatoes one tomato plant can conquer the world. Oh, almost forgot the beets- hope they do well this year, the peas, the parsley and the cilantro.

All in all an exceptional year for gardening.

Garden 2014

Garden 2014

Spring Cleaning.

Pay attention readers. This involves you!

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Happy birthday to Tom Stronach over in Wessex.

Happy Mother’s Day to all my mother-ish friends.

If you ain’t watchin’ Orphan Black you’re crazy. Saturday’s episode, Governed As It Were By Chance, was genius. Oh what will Helena do? Will she become the newest member of Sistrahood, uh, CloneClub?

I’m working on the hard copy of Winnerland and I’ve picked up an old WIP. In re-reading I realize it’s pretty damn good. I’m wondering, who wrote this??? Guess I’ll get to it. Hope I can do the story justice.

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