Growing Organic Potatoes

Growing Organic PotatoesI don’t have a green thumb, but thankfully when it comes to things like growing organic potatoes and tons of other produce, my mother, sister and brother-in-law do.

Two weekends ago it was time to start digging up the potatoes in the big garden on the homestead. My mom’s a seed-saver, which means she carefully keeps seeds from the produce she’s grown (mostly heirloom and all organic) to use for planting the next season’s crops.

Digging up organic potatoes by hand

In this case, all the potatoes in these rows are from just a few russet, white and red potatoes she kept and planted. There are various machines you can use to unearth the potatoes (which ideally grow just a couple inches under the soil), but my mom pulls hers out by hand – or by pitchfork.

Voles eating organic potatoesMy urban farmer sister, Josie, happened to be visiting from Brooklyn this weekend, so she was giving some of the odd-looking potatoes a once-over.

Some had a greenish hue, which means they grew exposed to light. You don’t want to eat those – they become toxic and can give you an upset tummy.

Other potatoes had been chewed on. Yes. CHEWED. The spuds with bite marks were completely underground (a little deeper than the un-gnawed ones), which means whatever was eating them also had to live underground. The culprits? Well, we don’t know for sure, but my sister believes them to be voles, which are little mouse-like rodents.

The good news is, when you have inedibles pulled from our garden, they don’t go to waste. Some scraps head to be composted, but many get delivered to the chickens – which they LOVE.

Chickens eating organic potatoesConvenient, right?

My mom planted only a handful of potatoes. When all’s said and done, and each row was unearthed, we ended up with a bounty that weighed in at over 100 pounds. ONE HUNDRED POUNDS! Just from a few organic potatoes.

I love sustainability.

Whipped Parsnips and Potatoes

Parsnip and Potato Mash

This week my Hometown Harvest bag included parsnips. Parsnips! Also a variety of other goodies including kiwi, apples, potatoes, rainbow carrots and zucchini. I joked that this week’s theme was “long and lean” after lining up a few of the veggies and Instagramming the shot! Love it.



So, back to the parsnips. I’m a fan, having had them in various restaurant purées over the years. They’re kind of sweet like a carrot, but without tasting like carrots. And they cook and mash up like a potato, but definitely have more flavor than potatoes. And there’s a spicy undertone that I can’t quite place…. Almost like nutmeg or cinnamon. Almost.

Even though I happen to like parsnips, my husband and kids have never tried them. These days they’re pretty open to trying new things, and while a few years ago parsnips may have cause a serious case of the eye-rolls, tonight everyone took the new food in stride. BE BRAVE, I told them. (LOL!)

It probably didn’t hurt that the parsnips were mashed with potatoes, plenty of butter and salt, and a hefty splash of whole milk. “How bad can that be?” as Ina would say.

We all agreed that whipped parsnips and potatoes is no substitute for classic mashed potatoes, but they were delicious nevertheless, AND ready in 20 minutes – which is perfect during the work week!

Whipped Parsnips and Potatoes
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Add a twist to your everyday mashed potatoes with parsnips!
Serves: 6
  • 4 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1" thick rounds
  • 4 large red potatoes, diced into 1" cubes
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • ½ cup whole milk (a little more or less depending on how thick you like them)
  • 1 teaspoon salt + 1 tablespoon for the water
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan
  1. Add the parsnips, potatoes and 1 tablespoon salt to a large sauce pan. Fill the pot with enough water to just cover the tops of the potatoes and parsnips. Set the pot to boil over high heat. Once the water comes to a rolling boil, reduce the heat to keep the water at a gentle boil and cook the parsnips and potatoes for 16 minutes. Drain.
  2. Turn the heat down to low and return the pot to the stove. Add the butter and the milk. Once the butter has melted, add the parsnips and potatoes back into the pot, along with 1 teaspoon salt, the pepper and Parmesan.
  3. Using a hand-held mixer, whip the parsnips and potatoes until they're smooth and creamy. Serve with extra butter.

Hometown Harvest is a blog sponsor, which means they are compensating me for things like referrals, sharing product info and talking about my experience using their services. In a nutshell, for spreading the word! As always, all opinions are my own, and I only choose sponsors whose missions I support.

Perfect Baked Potatoes

Perfect Baked Potatoes

Cooking perfect baked potatoes as simple as a slathering of olive oil, a generous sprinkle of sea salt, and a hot oven.


No need to coat the potatoes with a bunch of butter (although…yum!) nor wrap each separately in foil.

Who needs the extra fuss? Not me!

The hardest part of cooking perfect baked potatoes is waiting 50 minutes for them to be done! And you know they’re done when the outsides are crispy, but the insides give with a gentle squeeze. Mmmm….

Let’s not forget about….

My favorite baked potato topping is the traditional (but not boring!) salt & pepper, butter, and sour cream. In that order.

The husband likes his baked potato loaded – all of the above, plus cheese, bacon and green onions if I have them.

My 8-year old is a traditionalist like me. And, my 5-year old gags at the mere thought a bite of potato. Any potato. Except French fries.

What are your favorite toppings?

Perfect Baked Potatoes
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Serves: 4
  • 4 russet potatoes
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Poke each potato a few times with a knife. Coat the outsides of the potato with olive oil, sprinkle them with sea salt, and then set them on the baking sheet.
  3. Bake the potatoes for 50 minutes, turning the potatoes over once half-way through.
  4. Serve the potatoes hot with your favorite toppings!


Sliced Roasted Potatoes

sliced roasted potatoes

It’s always great to have an easy, inexpensive side at your fingertips. We’re no strangers to potato sides, as potatoes happen to be a favorite mine and they’re so stinkin’ versatile. Mashed, roasted, baked, whipped, fried – the list is endless. Mmmm….

Let’s talk roasted potatoes….

Roasted potatoes are in their prime when the insides are soft and fluffy, and the outsides are crispy and melt-in-your-mouth perfect. It doesn’t take much to enhance their flavor – a little sea salt, some olive oil, a sliced onion, and whatever herbs you have on hand. The most important thing though? A really hot oven.

I can’t say I have one type of potato that works better than another for roasted potatoes, but I talked about the different kinds of potatoes and what they’re typically used for in this article if you need to take a peek. I usually just buy what’s on sale that week at the market.

To switch up our typical chunky roasted potatoes recipe, I sliced them the other day. I loved how extra crispy the edges got, and also how they cooked a little quicker than the standard roasted potatoes. Enjoy!

Sliced Roasted Potatoes
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Serves: 4
  • 3 medium potatoes (skins on & sliced ⅛" thin)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped Italian parsley (or whatever herb you have)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Toss the potatoes, olive oil, parsley, salt and pepper together in a large bowl, and then loosely layer them in a casserole dish.
  2. Bake the potatoes for about 30 minutes, flipping them over about half-way through the cooking time. The potatoes are done when they're fork-tender and browned around the edges.

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