A few months ago I noticed some neglected potatoes starting to sprout in the cupboard. They were a mix of slender whites, round reds, and brilliant purples from the farmer’s market. After I got over the disappointment of not being able to eat them, I realized with glee that instead I could try planting them in the garden. Unfortunately I failed to research the issue in its entirety, missing the pertinent detail that potato plants are not frost-tolerant, and promptly planted my sprouting potatoes in late fall. Sure enough, every single one of them sprouted, only to die back from a few killer frosts in December and then again in January. How the plants managed to support so many rounds of greenery is beyond me, especially since a few of the plants are only now starting to peek above the soil again. This had me wondering whether they would have any energy left for potato making, which was, after all, the whole point (although I do read that potato flowers are a sight to behold).
Finally this weekend I could no longer contain my curiosity and I gingerly brushed away some of the dirt around the more well-endowed potato plants. Sure enough the potato plants have been getting busy, and I was able to unearth a small handful of my very first homegrown potatoes. The rest will have to wait until the plants flower and die back, but for now I am satisfied imagining all the potatoes that are certainly lurking beneath the surface. To celebrate success in the face of ineptitude, I cooked the potatoes with what felt like a luxurious abundance of peas (only because I had to shell them by hand), a hefty slab of butter, and some chives from the other garden.
Peas and Potatoes
Handful of small new potatoes, sliced into quarter-thick pieces
Small handful of shelling peas, shelled
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons minced chives
Salt to taste
1. Steam the potatoes until soft, but not falling apart.
2. Heat the butter in a skillet (a seasoned cast-iron skillet works well here) and when the butter is hot, add the potatoes and shelled peas. Cook the potatoes, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown on the outside and the peas are cooked through.
3. In the last few minutes of cooking add the chives and some salt. Eat the peas and potatoes while hot, with more salt as desired.