Thursday, March 17, 2011


Nora will use this blog to tell stories of her childhood on the farm and her urban adventures in preparation for the Farm to Fair project.

4-H Champion potatoes, 2010, Indiana State Fair

Right or wrong, I always think of potatoes on Saint Patrick's Day. Well, that and whiskey, but that's a whole 'nother post.

Grandma Leona's family came to Cass County from Ireland in the late 1800s. A generation* later, they had a successful farm raising corn, soy beans, wheat, and cattle. I have no idea whether they raised potatoes or not, but Grandma had a potato ricer - a hinged kitchen tool with two handles that you would squeeze the cooked potato through a grid. The potato comes out in a wiggly squish of goodness. The idea was that the potatoes are easier to mash when they are riced. I always asked for a serving of the riced potatoes, before they were mashed.

Potato salad is a staple at every picnic and part of my favorite summer meal - picked right from the garden corn-on-the-cob, watermelon and potato salad. I remember how shocked I was the first time I had a mustard-based potato salad. Mayonnaise vs. mustard can be a dividing issue among friends, right up there with the 4-H vs. FFA and Purdue vs. IU age-old battles.  

I remember the first time I saw this bit of potato-y genius at the Indiana State Fair several years ago. They use a drill connected to a blade to make one long thin potato ribbon and are fried in to crispy potato chips.

Did you know that the Indiana State Fair was the first to take a stand against trans fat cooking oils? In 2007 trans fat cooking oils were banned from being use at the Fair. This forward-thinking measure was touted in headlines around the world - and all of the State Fair treats are just as delicious.

*Thinking about the farm that Grandma Leona grew up on reminds me of a great story about her sister, my Great-Aunt Mary. The siblings had all either moved away or died and Aunt Mary was living in the house alone, with plenty of help from family and the "hired man," who worked there for decades and took care of basic farm chores and house duties. One Friday Aunt Mary was writing out his paycheck and couldn't remember his name. She didn't want to admit that she'd forgotten, so she said "remind me how to spell your last name?" His reply, "S.M.I.T.H."

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