Pioneer Potluck: About Potatoes and Indoor Sports

Have you ever thought of eating as an indoor sport? Cooking may as well be my indoor sport! I don't play ping-pong, basketball, billiards, or poker, so if I have to choose an indoor sport it would be cooking and eating! I am constantly looking for different ways to fix an old standby -- or a new recipe that I do not have all the ingredients for. I usually have most things on hand with the exception of one ingredient, and usually I can find something in my cupboard as a substitute. The one thing I am never without is the potato.


I cannot imagine not having potatoes on hand, or onions. If I ask Bob what he wants for supper, his standard reply is potato soup. I have fixed it every way possible and added ingredients including ham, bacon, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and corn. I add salmon to my potato soup, but don't dare put it in Bob's bowl of soup. I also have added clams and halibut or the combination of all three fish. And when I am through adding things to Bob's bowl of soup he wants cheese on top! Not me! Butter, maybe.

I bet you think the potato came from Ireland! Not by a long shot! The potato is a native of South America and the Spanish found them a staple of South American Indians. The then were introduced by the Spanish to the European counties, and were adapted to most of their recipes. So I suppose the Irish potato really came from South America.

A big mountain of Mom's mashed potatoes, a big dent in the top -- with either some of Mom's wonderful cream gravy or a big heap of homemade butter. And pass the salt and pepper. Mom baked potatoes, cut them in two and spooned out the middle, mashed them with butter and cream, added cheese and salt and pepper. The she piled the white fluffy mashed potatoes back in the shell and "dotted" the top with butter and cheese and stuck them back in the oven to brown up. She called them "Twice Baked Potatoes." I think they are a lot of work and prefer the receiver of the baked potato, fresh hot from the oven, to be mashed by the hand that is going to eat it. Just pass the butter and sour cream. I have many, many times in my life just eaten a baked potato for lunch or supper -- usually hot out of the microwave, piled high with leftovers (taco meat or diced chicken, onions and cheese, sour cream, salsa) or just the butter and sour cream. And you have to eat the crispy potato skin. It's a most satisfying meal.

Whether you bake, boil, fry or french-fry or add to the stew or soup, it holds its place of honor at any table. Fried potatoes for breakfast with onions and eggs and bacon. Oh! That is the best. French fries? My grandsons have loved my french fries for 23 years. Probably the reason I do not mind fixing a big batch is because I like them too.

Left over mashed potatoes -- never throw them out! They are a good base for the salmon patty, adding an egg, some onion and a few crushed crackers. Clam fritters are in the same category. Or just a good potato patty browned in butter.

I love to make potato salad and at one time had a layered potato salad that I entered in a bunch of contests. But the very best is the tried and true old fashioned potato salad with boiled eggs, onions, celery and sweet or dill pickles and mayonnaise and a dab of mustard.

Then there is the scalloped (escalloped) or "scalped" potato with diced ham, onion, cheese and milk mixed with cream of mushroom soup poured over top. Pop in the oven and you have a full meal when it comes out brown and bubbly. Oh! Now that is an Alaskan dish you will remember forever!

Or the time my oldest daughter raised chickens and I canned chickens for her. With left over broth, Bob suggested that we can small new potatoes in the broth. Open that jar of poatoes and broth, heat up the broth, season and thicken with a little cornstarch for gravy, slip the potatoes back in the gravy to warm up. Ladle into a soup bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper and here you are -- in potato heaven again.

Can you remember the first time you stuck a potato in the campfire? Or provided potatoes for the Fall Hobo Stew for the Boy or Girl Scouts, as the others would bring carrots, onions, celery, cabbage and canned tomatoes? The adult would supply the ground meat. Let it simmer over the campfire coals until well done. Ladle  into cups. On my! That was good. I often make this at home -- it is a satisfying soup for the cold Alaskan soul.

How about the elegant boiled new potatoes in a cream butter sauce with fresh from the garden sweet peas? Served with salmon patties, halibut or beer battered fish -- that really is an Alaskan dish!

My memory of the potato goes way back to the times I was the designated "peeler of the potato" from the time I was young enough to wield a knife. My Mom would warn, "Peel the skin thin, Edith Ann. No wasting the potato! I still think of this little warning when I pick up a potato to peel. Alaskan potatoes need not be peeled, and I like it that way.

Bernies Oven Roasted Potatoes

2 lbs unpeeled ptatoes - cut in wedges
2 tblsp olive oil
1 tblsp olive oil
1 tblsp fresh rosemary chopped
1/2 tea garlic salt
1/4 tea black pepper
1/2 tea paprika
Place potatoes in ungreased 13 x 9 pan.
Drizzle with oil
Sprinkle with garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper.
Toss to coat.
Bake uncovered 450 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes until potatoes are golden and tender.

BLT Potato Salad

6 large potatoes
6 eggs
Boil eggs with potatoes until done
Cool and dice potatoes into large bowl
While potatoes are cooling, fry:
1 pound of diced bacon
1 chopped onion
Drain and set the bacon grease aside. Add bacon/onions to potatoes
In a small bowl:
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tblsp vinegar
1/2 cup bacon grease
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Mix and add to potatoes. Add the chopped boiled eggs. Mix all well and place on large meat platter, mounding in the middle. Rim the platter with shredded lettuce, chopped tomato, shredded cheddar cheese. Top with a few pieces of fried bacon.

Baked Potato Casserole

6 baked potatoes cut in cubes.
1 lb of bacon, fried, crumbled.
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
3 cups sour cream
2 cups mozzarella cheese
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
2 green onions sliced
Put 1/2 of cubed baked potatoes in buttered 13 x 9 dish

Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread half the sour cream and half the cheeses. Repeat layers. Bake 350 degrees oven 25 to 3 0 minutes, until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with green onions and serve. Ham would be good in this too.

Basque Potatoes

Dig out the old cast iron skillet for this to turn out just right.
6 medium potatoes, boiled 10 minutes, just to se starch. Drain
6 to 8 slices of bacon
1/2 cup chopped onion
6 to 8 slices fo bacon
4 beaten eggs
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp pepper
Fry bacon until crispy. Take out and crumble. Fry oinion until tender. Add 2 tblsp vegetable oil and 2 tblsp butter to bacon fat. Slice potatoes 1/8 inch thick into hot pan. Lift to mix bacon and onions with potatoes. Press down potatoes so they are pressed into the bottom of the pan. Fry until golden brown, without stirring the potatoes. Run a knife around the edge and lift bottom with spatula all around the pan. Place a large platter face down n the skillet and invert the potatoes onto the platter. Put 2 tblsp vegetable oil and 3 tbsp butter in skillet and slide the potatoes face down into the pan. Fry another 5 minutes until golden. Turn heat down to medium. Whisk the eggs, salt and pepper and pour over top of potatoes. Place a tight fighting lid on skillet and cook another 10 minutes on low until eggs are set. Do not peek until 10 minutes are up. Serve from the skillet, cut in squares. This is not complicated, once you do it a couple times. So good served with fried fish, or as brunch for the bunch! I like catsup on mine! Sour cream and chives on the side makes this a great side dish. A great  dish cooked over a camp fire!