Friday, December 19, 2008
May I Present the Simple Potato
Living frugally does not mean that you have to eat Top Ramen or generic Macaroni & Something Vaguely Resembling Cheese. Fortunately for us the Indians of the Andes Mountains discovered the rugged Potato about 7000 years ago thus allowing we newly poor people a delicious alternative to cheap, processed fast food.
I think that most Americans today probably believe that the potato originated in either Ireland or Idaho. But the fact is that until the Conquistadors marched into Peru the people of the West had never heard of it. When they took the small brown spud to Spain around 1570 the humble vegetable did not exactly get a warm welcome. Europeans considered it to be food for the very poor and sometimes used them to feed prison inmates.
Finally in 1780 the potato made it to Ireland where it finally became the star of the show. The Irish could grow the durable potato in their rough soil. It provided a fully nutritious source of food for the family. And even more important for the economically challenged you could grow enough potatoes on a acre of land to feed 10 people.
Which brings us back to where we started. This wonderful jewel of a vegetable is still cheap. I bought a 10lb bag of the biggest Idaho spuds you ever saw at Costo for 7.99. Twice these last two weeks I've served them as our entree. The baked spuds make for a very satisfying meal with a side salad. The first time I topped them with some chopped up leftover ham and some cheese. The second time I pulled a recipe out of my files for Yorkshire Buck. The recipe was originally printed in the Jan. 5, 2005 Seattle Post-Intelligencer. It is similar to Welsh Rarebit and is meant to be served on toast but it tasted just fine on a potato. The stronger and darker the ale the stronger the beer flavor will be so keep that in mind when shopping for your brew.
1 T Butter
1 Lb sharp cheddar, grated
1 cup dark ale
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard
1 T Dijon Mustard
2 dashes Tabasco sauce
Melt the butter in the top of a double boiler. Add the cheese, and as it begins to melt, add the ale slowly, stirring constantly. Beat the egg and add along with the remaining ingredients. Continue to stir until the mixture is smooth. Keep the mixture hot.