Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
I don't grow potatoes, but it isn't because I don't like potatoes. In fact, I love potatoes. Maybe I even love them too much. So why, you ask, does someone who calls himself Mr. Potato Head and loves potatoes stubbornly refuse to grow potatoes? There is an easy answer, they have too many calories. After years of eating potatoes almost every day of my life I now eat potatoes only on "special occasions". Last Friday was a special occasion.
When I got home from the farmer's market last week it was about 7 p.m. and I was hungry. I had bagged a special treat at the market, new potatoes and peas. For me, new potatoes and peas go together like milk and cookies. I have great childhood memories of my mother cooking creamed new potatoes and new peas. It was one of those early treats from the garden. It is something that is quick and easy, delicious and very satisfying.
Locally grown new potatoes have been available for a few weeks. They are usually about the size of a golf ball or a little bigger and have a very thin red skin. The skin is so thin that some of it might rub off when you wash them. The peas ripen about the same time as the potatoes. Here is the simplest way to cook creamed new potatoes with peas:
1 lb. small new potatoes
1 tsp. salt
1 cup of shelled new peas
2/3 c. cream
Dash of pepper
Cut up the potatoes and cook with salt in 2 cups boiling water until almost tender. Add peas and continue cooking until vegetables are tender. Drain and add cream and pepper; heat well.
While this is very good, it isn't the method I use. I make a white sauce in a separate pan while the potatoes are cooking. Cook and drain the potatoes and peas the same as in the recipe above, but add the sauce instead of the cream.
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
Melt butter in a sauce pan and whisk in flour and salt until smooth. Gradually stir in cold milk, cooking over direct heat and stirring constantly until sauce boils; reduce heat slightly and continue to stir until sauce becomes smooth and thick. When sauce thickens, simmer for an additional 10 minutes over very low heat, stirring occasionally.
There are other things that you can add if you like. A little bit of chopped green onion fresh from your garden (or the farmer's market) adds a little bit of good color and flavor. If you grow chives this is a very good place to use them. If you like the taste of bacon, and most of us do, you could add some cooked bacon bits to the creamy mixture.
Enjoy the taste of creamed new potatoes and peas, and keep growing!
If you have gardening questions or suggestions for Mr. Potato Head please e-mail him at
Mr. Potato Head is Stearns County Master Gardener and Kimball resident Rick Ellis.