Comfort food has been in high demand around here recently. Prompted by our landlord unexpectedly putting this house on the market – July turned into a month of big decisions– stay or
go – and a lot of stress. For the first time ever, K.M. and I both completely forgot our wedding anniversary.
Right on cue, the garden started to produce potatoes: All Blue, Red Lakota, Yukon Gold and Red Lakotas. Mashed, fried, baked, and of course in the form of a fry –potatoes are reliable, easy to cook and acompliment to everything else on your plate. Native to South America, the potato’s domestication dates back at least 7000 years.
Looking at my first harvest on the kitchen counter, I suddenly had the energy to plan a belated anniversary menu: duck breast, fava beans, and my all-time favorite potato dish – Black Pepper Potatoes. K.M. made these potatoes for me on our first date – and 17 years later, I still love the man and the potatoes.
Black pepper does more for potatoes than salt alone ever could – and yes, you should use the huge amount of pepper the recipe calls for. There’s a reason that black pepper is known as the King of Spices – though I’m not at all surprised that it took an Indian recipe to bring that concept home for me.
Anytime you cook with potatoes be sure they’re organic. Potatoes are one of the most chemically intensive conventional crops out there. And they occupy the number 9 spot on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list – meaning that conventional potatoes are really high in pesticide residue. Potatoes are one of those staples items where buying organic makes a difference to your body and to the land.
That’s really what it’s all about – and the big lesson I’ll take away from my time as a student in the Peaceful Belly Hidden Springs garden: the import of our connection to the land. But the land I most want to connect with isn’t in Idaho’s Treasure Valley.
It turns out that K.M. and I both now think of Seattle as home – something that moving away for a while really clarified. We’re lucky we have the chance to go back. We won’t be able to move back into our own house for nearly a year, but two weeks from today, I’ll be able to smell the salt water, hear the sounds of trains, and go outside when the sun shines. I’ll miss the winter sunshine here in Boise and many of the people I’ve only just started to get to know, and the bike path along the river. More than anything else though, I’ll miss the garden – the tomatoes, corn, okra and winter squash I won’t taste and above all the sense community that’s built up around the radical act of growing food.
You can bet that next year, when we do get back to our purple and grey house on Queen Anne hill that I’m going to rip out my frontlawn and plant a victory garden. That’s going to be a great reason to celebrate.