Last week my daughter scolded me on proper gardening terms and techniques. The conversation went like this: “Mama, when are you going to unplant those potatoes?” “Unplant the potatoes? Do you mean harvest the potatoes?” She looked at me, exasperated. “No. “Harvest” is what we do to peas and artichokes and asparagus. But we “unplant” the potatoes and carrots.”
And we do. So schooled.
I am always happy to see volunteer potato leaves poking through the soil. Yes, they remind me that I am an inveterate potato-misser when I do “unplant” them in the fall. But even if they disrupt my tedious seedling rows, I know that those vigorous furls of greenery mean a crop of new potatoes for us around the end of June. There’s nothing like baby potatoes, as that’s what they are: with skin so thin that even the stream of the hose could tear them, they need gentle treatment. And their flesh is so crisp and creamy…oh, I love my ground apples.
And so does my family. Serving them up last week, I reminded everyone that it had been April when the last spud was served. They hadn’t missed them (though I sure had).
Probably the best treatment for new spuds is cooking them en papillote: wrapped in an envelope of parchment paper and stuck on a tray in a hot oven, they get steamed AND browned. I make sure to add a lot of fresh herbs and the fattest grains of sea salt, a twist or five of the pepper mill, and of course our good friends Butter and Olive Oil. I wish I was a great folder of parchment paper packages. I have had some dishes served me in restaurants where the paper looked edible all on its own, its caramelized brown-ness, its beautiful folds holding in the moisture. But I am not, so I resort to the stapler. Sure, office supplies have a role in the kitchen! What doesn’t!
Happy un-planting to all of you.