Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Mr. Potato Head’s Other Produce-Bin Buddies

So far we have looked at two types of potatoes—waxy potatoes such as the Russet, and all-purpose such as the Yukon Gold.
There are two more categories of potatoes that I would like to look at…waxy potatoes and sweet potatoes.
So what are the characteristics of a waxy potato?
  • fine-grained, dense flesh
  • generally smaller and rounder
  • high moisture level
  • high sugar content
  • hold their shape well during cooking
  • low in starch
  • more moisture
  • smoother texture
  • thinner skin

Waxy potatoes are best for boiling, steaming, frying,roasting, and making casseroles—such as potatoes au gratin and scalloped potatoes.

Let’s look at five different categories of waxy potatoes—fingerlings, new potatoes, red potatoes, purple potatoes, and yellow potatoes.

 

 

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1.Fingerlings…Fingerlings are basically an elongated variety of new potatoes.

  • Flesh…ranging from red orange to purple, yellow or white
  • Shape…thin, finger-like shape
  • Size…ranging from 2″ to 4″
  • Skin…thin, tender skin…colors ranging from red to orange to purple or white
  • Three varieties of fingerlings that you might find are…

LaRette

  • Flavor…nutty
  • Texture…silky

Red Thumb

  • Flesh…pink flesh
  • Skin…bright red skin

Rose Finn Apple

  • Skin…pink, often knobby skin
  • Flesh…golden buttery yellow
  • Flavor…earthy flavor

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2. New Potatoes

  • Technically, any potato picked before the height of maturity,, before its sugars have fully converted to starch.is a new potato.
  • Uses…Because new potatoes are so small, they are simply boiling whole and eating unpeeled…as in a roast…that food that we all probably hated growing up and absolutely love now that we have grown up ourselves…kinda like a rite of passage…
  • Shape…small and round
  • Skin…thin and tender..various colors
  • Taste…sweet,
  • Uses…boiling, steaming, roasting…not for baking….

 

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3. Purple Potatoes

Purple potatoes are named purple potatoes because why…gee, could it be their skin…since the other two varieties of potatoes that we will talk about are the white potato and the yellow potato…

A few of the characteristics of the purple potato…

  • Flavor…earthy, nutty flavor
  • Flesh…lavender
  • Skin…deep purple
  • Uses…grilling, roasting

One variety of purple potato that you might find available is the Purple Viking…

  • Flavor…meaty, slightly sweet and buttery
  • Flesh…white
  • Size…small
  • Skin…dark purple
  • Texture…creamy and moist texture.
  • Uses…roasting, boiling, casseroles and gratins…but not for soups….

 

 

 

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4. Red Potatoes,

Red potatoes are are typically small, smooth, and round,,,,and as you c an probably figure out, have a red skin.. These potatoes have  creamy moist texture and subtly sweet flavor.

These are the potatoes that you want to use whenever you are roasting, boiling, or steaming.

Three common varieties of new potatoes are…

  • Adirondack Red
  • Flavor…lightly sweet
  • Flesh…pink to red flesh that’s either opaque or in a starburst pattern
  • Skin…red
  • Texture…moist, meaty and waxy
  • Red Bliss
  • Flesh…creamy white
  • Skin…bright red
  • Taste…slightly bitter
  • Texture…firm, moist and waxy
  • Rose Gold
  • Skin… rose-red skin
  • Flesh…yellow
  • Taste…mild and earthy
  • Texture…firm and moist

 

 

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5. Yellow Potatoes

Our final category of potatoes is the yellow potato. Two types of yellow potato are…

  • Carola
  • Shape…oblong
  • Skin…yellow
  • Flesh…yellow
  • Flavor…strong, classic potato flavor with earthy and buttery notes
  • Texture…firm, creamy and waxy texture
  • Austrian Crescent
  • Skin…yellowish, tan smooth skin
  • Flesh…yellow flesh
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Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes are to dinner fare what hash browns are to breakfast fare…and in this post, we’re gonna learn how to make the best mashed potatoes ever.

The perfect mashed potatoes are rich, super-creamy, and thick…and flavored with butter, sour cream, garlic and Parmesan cheese.

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Which type of potatoes should I use?

The best variety of  potato to use when making mashed potatoes is Yukon Gold….(that’s why I put mashed potatoes in this section on Yukon Gold potatoes…go figure)…because they give your mashed potatoes an even creamier texture….

 

 

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Should I Cut or Peel My Potatoes? 

First of all, whether or not you peel the potatoes before cutting them is purely a matter of preference. Some people like the texture that the skin adds,while other don’t…Just remember that the skin is where all the extra nutrients and flavor.s are.

Regardless if you peel them or not, you will need to cut your potatoes into evenly-sized chunks, about an inch or so thick.  You do not want to boil whole potatoes Now transfer the potatoes  to a large stockpot full of cold water until all of the potatoes are cut and ready to go.

 

 


How do I cook my potatoes?

Place the potatoes In a 6-quart stockpot, and cover with enough cold water that the water line sits about 1″ above the potatoes. Add 1Tbsp salt. You do not want to boil or heat the water before addiong the potatoes because they might not cook evenly.

Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat down to medium-low. Cook about 15min…until you can stick a knife into the middle of the potato with almost no resistance.

Draining and steaming to finish helps pull out any remaining water for a fluffy final texture. …Whether or not you cook them without peeling them first is a matter of personal preference.

So carefully drain out all of the water.

Return the drained potatoes into the hot stockpot. Set back on the stove over low heat.  Gently shake the pan for about a minute to release some of the steam and moisture from the potatoes.

Remove the pan from the heat.

Set them aside until you are actually ready to mash your potatoes….this will make sure that all the liquid is evaporated.

 

 

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Now what do I do?

Heat 1/3C salted butter, 1C milk, and 2tsp salt together either in a small saucepan or in the microwave until warm…but avoid boiling the milk.  Set aside until ready to use. This keeps the potatoes hot and absorbs better. 

Return the potatoes to the hot stockpot. Place back on the hot burner, but first turn the heat down to low.  Using two oven mitts, carefully hold the handles on the stockpot and shake it gently on the burner for about a minute to help cook off some of the remaining steam within the potatoes. 

Mash the potatoes with a potato masher, strong wooden spoon, or electric beaters until smooth, adding a little extra milk if needed…but be careful not to over beat or they will become gluey.

Add warm milk mixture, a little bit at a time, to the potatoes until they reach the desired consistency is reached.

Stir in 3 cloves garlic, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, 1/2C sour cream, fresh herbs, onion, shredded cheddar, cooked bacon bits, chives…whatever you want.

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Pan-Frying 101

 

2. Brining the Chicken…Typically when I frychicken, I cook approximately 3-3 1/2 pounds of chicken pieces….So let’s get started…
Soaking your chicken in some sort of brine will help the breading stick to the food better…and add moisture and flavor. Once you prepare the brine, simply add the chicken to the liquid and stick in the fridge at least thirty minutes, and even overnight.

 

4. Heating Your Oil…When frying chicken, it is important that the oil can be heated to a high temperature without burning. Peanut, canola or vegetable oil are your best options…Avoid using olive oil or butter.

 

 

 

5. Cooking Your Chicken…Gently place your breaded chicken skin side-down in your heated pan, being sure not to overcrowd the pan.

Replace the lid onto the pan. Cook the chicken about ten minutes, using your tongs to turn the chicken a few times while it cooks.

Remove the lid. Cook ten minutes more, uncovered…until the chicken is cooked through and the outside is a deep golden brown.

 

If you are using a probe thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of the chicken, the magic number is 165 degrees.

Remember to bring the oil back up to 350 degrees before you add the next batch of chicken.

 

 

 

Once your chicken has finished frying, place the hot chicken on a wire rack set on top of a baking sheet. Sprinkle with a little salt for extra flavor.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

 

When done well, you should end up with a hallmark of great fried chicken—perfectly tender meat with plenty of that crunchy, dark brown crust that all of us Southerners so adore.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

What’s Next?

As much as I hate it, and as much as my ADHD adult mind would love to wander off on yet some other tempting tangent or two, especially during this holiday season of overeating and overcooking and overbaking…

We’re still faced with the fact that my husband has just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and that we both need to start eating better.

This has actually become a top priority, if not THE top priority, in our lives right now.

And I have made planning our meals around the Raw Foods Pyramid my plan on attack.

Mainly I am doing this so that I won’t have to cook…no, wait…that’s so not true…

But it is true that the real reason I use huge recyclable cloth bags when shopping is so that I can safely cram more into each bag and, as a result, make fewer trips from my car into the house…not to save the environment.

My pursuit of a “raw foods diet” so far has involved learning to eat more unprocessed, organic, and uncooked foods….foods such as vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruits, sprouted grains, and beans—none of which can have been heated above a certain temperature, usually somewhere between 104 and 118 degrees.

I have also been becoming more aware of which foods have been refined, pasteurized, homogenized, or produced with the use of synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives.

I have been learning about the raw foods dfiet by starting at the base of the Pyramid—those low calorie, nutrient dense foods that we should probably all eat more of in the first place and slowly working my way to the higher-calorie, less nutritious foods at the top of the pyramid, those foods that we should eat very little of, if any at all.

The three bottom tiers of the Raw Foods pyramid—water, leafy greens, and fruits and vegetables—are grouped together in the one category called “Production Foods.”

Let’s take a look at what we’ve learned so far…

Beginning with Breakfast, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Breakfast 101

So what exactly SHOULD we eat for breakfast, assuming that we simply accept the reasons that we should eat breakfast in the first place.

Based on what I have talked about four, there are three posts that already talk about specific things that you should be eating each day and suggest ways to make sure that you accomplish that goal.

These previous posts are…

  • The introduction to the Raw Foods Diet
  • The book review of Eating for Beauty
  • Information about continental breakfasts

So looking back on this overload of information and thinking only about what I should be putting on my plate, let’s make a breakfast plan—just in time for back to school and having to actually wake up and get the kids out the door every single morning.

Now grouping items mainly according to the Raw Foods Pyramid, let’s make a menu plan and a grocery list for what to have on hand to help get the day off to a great start.

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1. Production Foods

  • Water
  • Leafy Greens
  • Fruits and Vegetables…As far as fruits and vegetables are concerned, the main foods that will help contribute to your diet goals are…
  • Brightly colored fruits and vegetables…Most brightly-colored fruits and vegetables—like bright orange, yellow, red and green foods—contain high levels of beta-carotene and vitamin A. These foods include carrots, pumpkin, mango and spinach.
  • Kiwi and citrus…Both kiwi and citrus are excellent sources of the vitamin C needed to make the collagen that gives skin support and shape. The RDA for vitamin C is…
    90 mg/day in men, 75 mg/daily for women older than 18

2. Proteins and Amino Acids…Proteins, such as keratin, collagen and elastin, are the building blocks of skin, hair and nails…Women need about 46 grams of protein per day…men, 56 grams.

  • Legumes and Sprouts
  • Nuts and Seeds…Nuts are packed with essential fats, vitamin E and B vitamins. A healthy daily intake of nuts is 30g (a small handful) or approximately: 20 almonds. 15 cashews. 20 hazelnuts. 15 macadamias. 15 pecans. 2 tablespoons of pine nuts. 30 pistachio kernels. 9 walnut kernels.

3. Medicinal Foods

  • Herbs, Microgreens, and Juicing Grasses
  • Seaweed and Nutritional Yeast

4. Other Non-Pyramid Related Things to Consider

  • High iron content…A diet low in iron can make you feel tired and have little or no energy. The RDA for iron is…13.7–15.1 mg/day in children aged 2–11 years…
    16.3 mg/day in children and teens aged 12–19 years…19.3–20.5 mg/day in men
    17.0–18.9 mg/day in women older than 19.
  • Whole grains…As far as whole grains are considered, think about adding the following to your breakfast rotation…
  • Muesli…Muesli and other whole grains boost your intake of essential fats, B vitamins and the potent antioxidants. it is recommended that adults eat six ounces of grains each day.
  • Seafood and Fish…Fish is a good source of the omega-3 fatty acids that the heart needs to prevent cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association recommends eating two 3.5oz servings of fish per week.

So keep reading in the days ahead as I posts ideas on what to plan and serve for breakfast in this “What’s Next” section…

Getting Healthy

Facing the Facts and Fiction on Fats

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Despite the common misconception that all fat is bad for you and that fat should be eliminated completely our of our diets, our bodies actually require fat in order to stay healthy.

Fat is actually an important nutrient in a healthy diet, just like protein and carbohydrates.

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggested a diet rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids—the healthy  fats—can help reduce the risk of getting heart disease, the most common cause of death in Western countries today, and also lower both your cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

 

Actually when choosing diet to keep or ditch in our diets, not only must we ask “How much fat does a particular food item contain,” but also “What kind of fat does this food item contain?” 

Rather than adopting a low-fat diet, it’s more important to focus on limiting harmful “bad” fats and eating more beneficial “good” fats. This is because “bad” fats increase your risk of certain diseases…while “good” fats can protect your brain and heart health, help you manage your mood, help you stay on top of your mental game, fight fatigue, boost your energy and well-being, help you manage your weight, lower your cholesterol levels, and help your body absorb vitamins.

There are four different types of fat…

  1. Trans fatty acid
  2. Saturated fats
  3. Unsaturated fats 
  4. Omega-3

The first two types of fat—trans fatty acids and saturated fats—are the dangerous type of fat you don’t want in your diet because these fats increase your levels of LDL while decreasing your levels of HDL (more on this to come later), cause you to gain weight, clog your arteries, and affect your health in many other ways also.

  • Good sources of the “good” types of fat that you should think about incorporating into your diet include
  • Avocados
  • Butter—grass-fed butter, ghee (clarified butter).
  • Fatty fish—salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines
  • Fish oil
  • Flax
  • Nuts (almonds, peanuts, macadamia, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews)
  • Oils…olive, canola, peanut, cold-pressed coconut, sesame, soybean and safflower
  • Olives
  • Peanut butter
  • Seeds—sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds
  • Soymilk
  • Tofu
  • Walnuts

The last two types of fat—unsaturated fats and Omega-3—can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke, lower your levels of LDL while increasing your levels of HDL, prevent abnormal heart rhythms, lower triglycerides associated with heart disease and fight inflammation, lower blood pressure, prevent hardening of the arteries. These fats may also help to make you feel more satisfied after a meal, reducing hunger and thus promoting weight loss.

Sources of these “bad” fats that you should eliminate from your diet include…

  • Anything containing hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil
  • Butter
  • Commercially-baked pastries, cookies, doughnuts, muffins, cakes, pizza dough
  • Fried foods
  • Ice cream
  • Packaged snack foods—crackers, microwave popcorn, chips
  • Red meat
  • Stick margarine
  • Vegetable shortening
  • Whole-fat dairy products

More tips for adding more healthy fats to your diet

  • Aim for a diet rich in a variety of vegetables, fruit, nuts, and beans
  • Consume dairy products in moderation
  • Eat fried or processed meals only occasionally
  • Eat more avocados—such as avocado sandwiches, salads, and guacamole
  • Eat more nuts—such as adding ing nuts to vegetable dishes, using them instead of breadcrumbs on chicken or fish, or making your own trail mix
  • Eat more olives—tapenade, dips
  • Eat two or more servings of fatty fish each week
  • Learn more about following a “Mediterranean diet”
  • Limit how much red meat you put on the menu
  • Make your own salad dressings
  • Substitute beans, nuts, poultry, and fish for the red meat that you just crossed off your grocery list
  • Switch from whole milk dairy to lower fat versions.
  • Use canola oil for baking
  • Use olive oil for stovetop cooking…rather than butter, stick margarine, or lard