Saturday, July 25, 2015

My New Favorite Flower

Actually, there are two of them:  Papaver rupifragum (Spanish poppy) and Papaver atlanticum (Moroccan Poppy), Truth to tell, I can't really tell one apart from the other. One's supposed to be shorter, but when they're wearing heels, it's really hard to tell...

They have been blooming all summer on very little water. The blooms only last for the day, but then another flower or six unfurls for the next day's show. They will overwinter here, as well as in places as cold as central Montana (USDA zone 4). That's way better than I can do.

They seem to thrive in part-sun or more (I may test their shade tolerance next year). Also, bees, especially carpenter bees, love these babies. I grew these from seeds (pretty easy) and have been saving this year's seed crop. I plan to spread them around in early spring.

And who knows? They may have cross-bred after a romantic night out on the town (I tell ya, those heels can get a girl into trouble) so I'll never really know who's who.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Salt Potatoes

Early June Harvest
Purple Viking Potatoes

Last month I dug up the Purple Viking potatoes which I had planted in February. I hadn't planted many, so I didn't expect many. Only I got many - many little one, that is. Very unusual for Purple Vikings, which are known to produce "lunkers" (large, over-sized potatoes).

What to do? Reaching back into my upstate New York heritage, I came up with salt potatoes. It wasn't something that we were served regularly growing up, but it is one of those rare regional dishes from upstate New York.*

When asked about salt potatoes, my mom wrote:

"The first time I had salt potatoes was when we went camping at Grass Point along the St. Lawrence and Dad and I left you kids with Grandma for the day while we went to a pre-NY State Fair clambake for communication folks, reporters, etc. in 1962. There was clam chowder (delicious), clams on the half shell and bowls of tiny salty potatoes with melted butter poured over.

Elsie (Grandma) Deegan
1900 - 1998
At the time you couldn’t even buy raw salt potatoes in the store so no one could make their own…..unless you had a crop like mine!! And they were really good tasting.

[One of the few crops that my mom can't seem to grow is potatoes.]

Grandma told me that when she was young in Tarrytown, little potatoes were called pig potatoes and mostly fed to pigs. At her corner store, pig potatoes were 2 CENTS a pound and all the poor folks bought them and served them with the skins on. She said her family ate a lot of them for years."

*In my experience, should you say that you are from "upstate New York" people imagine Yonkers, or perhaps the Catskill Mountains (100+ miles from NYC). Alternatively, they lock onto Buffalo, at the very western tippy-tip of the state.  Well folks, it's about 350 miles from the eastern edge of the state - the Hudson River - to the western border at Lake Erie. At one point, that was the western frontier of this nation.