Sometimes, you read a recipe and it wrecks your head.
Case in point: while nosing around the the Idaho Potato Commission website (as you do), I happened upon this, a recipe for baked potato cookies with sour cream and chives. It fairly stopped me in my tracks, I can tell you.
It wasn’t that the recipe called for the use of mashed potato in a sweet, baked good. What with potato bakewell tarts, potato apple parcels and chocolate potato buns, I’m all over that one myself.
No, frankly, it was the chives.
Chopped, dried chives.
In a cookie.
Couldn’t get my head around it.
Neither could I get away from the fact that, in my never-ending quest to explore the far reaches of the possible, potato-wise, I was going to have to make some. The things I do for spuds, eh?
Yes, the cookies are sweet and the green flecks are chives
Yes, ’tis true. There’s nothing worse than turning up to a potluck empty-handed when everyone else has brought dishes that people would stampede to get to. Yet, despite having had the best part of two months to ponder the latest five star makeover – which called for a little gourmet creativity to be applied to our choice of seasonal farmer’s market produce – I sat there yesterday morning, deadline looming and nary an idea in my head about what to bring to the makeover party.
I sipped my coffee and considered the options. Deploying the ‘laptop ate my blogpost’ excuse was top of the list, followed closely by a handwritten sicknote from my Ma. Alternatively, I could take my chances, potter down the road to my local vegetable vendor and hope for inspiration to strike (or, failing that, lightning, in which case I would probably have singed hair but an excellent reason for needing an entirely different kind of makeover). Lucky for you (and for my future hairdressing expenses) the lightning stayed away.
My most local source of fruit and veg, after my own backyard, that is
“Will I bring you Mum’s copy of Full and Plenty?” big sis #1 had asked.
There was only one possible answer to that question, and that was a resounding yes please.
Maura Laverty’s book, a classic of Irish cooking, was one I remembered clearly from childhood, both at home in my mother’s kitchen and, later, in my sister’s house, the book having been passed on to her when she got married.
My Ma's well-worn copy of Maura Laverty's Full and Plenty
As a child, I has read and re-read the book. Maura Laverty prefaced each chapter with wonderfully written stories from her home place of Ballyderrig that revolved around food, cooking and its place in the lives of her family and community. Whether it was the story of Statia Dunne’s “monarch among stews” that had won her a husband (and – take note ladies – “at an age when she had almost given up hope”) or the love of cowslips that allowed the author to become acquainted with Mrs. McKey’s fruit roll, I drank it all in. I also exercised my early baking muscles on the book’s substantial store of recipes.