Archive for the ‘Potatoes’ Category

A Glorious Fourth

Monday, July 6th, 2009
Liza ALWAYS dresses appropriately.

Liza ALWAYS dresses appropriately.


At Singing Brook Farm in Hawley, Massachusetts, we celebrate Independence Day in a low-key but festive manner.


Our impressaria for the occasion, Liza Pyle, organizes an annual pot-luck lunch near the Dam (where the water forms a lovely if frigid pond), followed by what she terms “hijinks”–games for the young and the not so young.


This year it started to rain just as the time came to light the fire by the Dam so we moved to the Play House, a building constructed by Liza’s grandfather just for days like this one. We had enough chairs, enough food, and eventually enough sunshine for everyone.


The edible offerings included things one couldn’t be without on July 4 (hot dogs, baked beans, devilled eggs, farm-fresh tomatoes, brownies), plus a new dish to me, grilled baked potatoes supplied by Liza and her brother David. I can’t wait to make them. I’m not much of a griller, but honestly I think even I could manage these!


Before I get to the semi-recipe (it’s more of a narrative), here are a few pictures of the hijinks.


This is a relay race in which participants must don clothing as they switch off. For some the shoes and hat were just A LITTLE big.

This was a relay race in which participants had to don clothing as they switched off. For some the shoes and hat were just A LITTLE too big.

Our National Game

Our National Game

Away from the water the annual rubber-duck race had to get creative.

Away from the water the annual rubber-duck race had to get creative.

Alice was the queen of the egg-and-spoon race (and much else).

Alice was the queen of the egg-and-spoon race (and much else).

Water balloons provide plenty of summer fun.

Water balloons provided plenty of summer fun.

We had occasional (short-lived!) displays of attitude.

We had occasional (short-lived!) displays of attitude.


As you can see, a good time was had by all (mostly!). The day revolved around community, the fruits of nature, and future generations. In short, our July 4 was almost iconically American. And now here is how one fixes the potatoes:


Bake several potatoes until they are almost done. A fork should be able to penetrate them, but they should still be firm.


Cut them in half lengthwise; then brush (or rub!) extra-virgin olive oil on both sides of both halves.


Grill the potatoes until they brown nicely (this won’t take long!).


Serve with sour cream into which you have mixed chives, salt, pepper, and anything else that takes your fancy (mustard, other herbs, horseradish–whatever!).


Don’t forget to sing “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”


Grilled Baked Potatoweb

More Than Just Mashed Potatoes

Thursday, April 16th, 2009
Jeff proudly shows off his potatoes.

Jeff proudly shows off his potatoes.


My mother and I recently had dinner at the home of our minister, Cara Hochhalter, and her husband Jeff. They live in a little red house in the middle of Charlemont, Massachusetts. The building is cleverly hidden away from the busy road by bushes and a fence; inside you’d never know you were close to traffic! Best of all, its main view is a private vista looking toward a brook at the back of the house.


Cara and Jeff arrived in town last summer. They spent their first few months in a nearby cottage while Jeff engaged in a flurry of construction on the new house. He replaced the heating system, insulated the walls, worked on the roof, paneled and painted the indoors, and generally made a wreck of a house into a cozy home.


He can cook, too! He invented this simple, tasty dish and dared me to discern the secret ingredient. I knew I liked it, but the cinnamon was too subtle for me to identify!






2 large Idaho potatoes

2 sweet potatoes of similar size

salt to taste

a splash of olive oil

1 stick cinnamon

2 to 4 tablespoons (1/4 to 1/2 stick) sweet butter (or butter to taste) at room temperature




Wash the potatoes and cut them into pieces. (Jeff leaves the skins on but trims them if necessary.)


Place the potato pieces in a medium pot of water; add the salt, olive oil, and cinnamon stick.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the potatoes are tender.


Drain and mash or whip with a beater, adding the butter as you mash. Serves 4 to 6.


By the way, for any of you who were wondering about the “up to 48 hours” my blog was supposed to be offline, it lasted about 90 seconds……..