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Books | New World Seeds & Tubers

I’ve heard a lot of complaints about cookbooks that don’t have enough pictures in them. One thing I like about a lot of the how-to books I’ve seen from England is that often they’re all pictures with the only text being captions and callouts!

This is one of those kinds of cookbooks.

I like how they start with the mis en place (getting all the ingredients measured out and ready), then proceed with all the major steps frame by frame. I think it reduces the likelihood of mistakes, both on the part of the recipe author and on the part of the cook!

I’d like it even better if it called for whole-wheat flour so that our customers would have a use for the grains they’re going to grow from seed bought from us, but most of the recipes are for pastries, which are probably easier to convert to white whole-wheat pastry flour than yeasted breads are to convert to hard whole-wheat flour. The bran in hard whole-wheat flour interferes with gluten development, by getting in the way when the gluten molecules are trying to join up end-to-end. It also absorbs moisture, thereby requiring a bit more liquid in recipes. There are a few yeasted-bread recipes too. In any case, as long as it’s still available you can always use store-bought flour.

It’s on-sale at Barnes and Noble, where I got my copy in the “last chance rack” for only $9.98, which is a real bargain for a professionally-written book with this many photographs. Click on the photo above to buy it at Barnes and Noble, or click here.

It’s about a dollar more expensive at Amazon.com, but if you want it from there, here’s the link.

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In case you’re wondering, no, it’s not photoshopped. If it were, I probably would have shifted the yellow to green on the leaves while I was at it so they didn’t look a bit chlorotic. I don’t remember them being chlorotic; more likely it’s the light and the fact you’re looking at the undersides of the leaves. Oddly, potato plants that bear tubers with intense yellow flesh look that way normally. Anyway, the tubers are about as red on the inside too.

Last spring while we still had potato sampler packs available for sale, we got a lot of special requests for specific colored-flesh potatoes.

Unfortunately, our stocks were low due to a fiasco the previous year. Tom lost a lot of Negro y Azuls and other potatoes that had been mentioned by name in Carol Deppe’s book The Resilient Gardener.

Subject to harvest, this year we expect plenty of not only the colored-flesh potatoes that customers have read about and asked for, but newer varieties fresh out of Tom’s breeding program.

Personally I wonder why there are not as many inquiries for the beautiful violets (more of a reddish shade of purple than the blues, and a little lighter colored) or the beet-red reds as there are for the “blues”. My best guess is that most folks just don’t know about them yet.

We’ve been so busy growing them that I haven’t had the chance to eat any yet. Unlike some of the competing blues out in the market, which tend to have an unpleasantly crumbly texture, Tom has blues with textures anywhere from waxy for making perfect cubes for potato salad, through starchier Russet types, to more “primitive types. Medium to high specific gravity, which means that if you don’t rush harvesting they won’t be watery and shrivel up after cooking like many store-bought potatoes do.

Once I have extras I’m going to experiment with them. I want to know how to best preserve the colors. The pigment is anthrocyanin, the same one as in blueberries. Some of Tom’s potatoes have about as much anthrocyanin as a blueberry! From what I’ve found on the internet, microwaving is the top choice for preserving the color, followed by steaming and baking. I’m wondering if lower temperature would help. The yellows are tough carotenoids; it’s the blues and reds that need some TLC.

What do you think? Any cooks out there who have figured out the best way to preserve the colors in colored-flesh potatoes? We’d love to hear from you.

Additional reading:

A lot of customers asked us about specific potato varieties mentioned in Carol Deppe’s book The Resilient Gardener. There are reasons she mentioned specific varieties, and also specific purposes for them, but Tom has more varieties than she would have had access to, and many of them are very similar.

While Tom appreciates the publicity, the real reason we like the book is because it’s about a topic near and dear to our hearts, and that is, food self-sufficiency. This is one of the few books on the subject that really gets into the heart of the matter. For one thing, she keeps it simple by recommending just 4 strategically-chosen core crops, plus eggs. With just these 4 staple crops, you can get all of the macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrate) you need. Most people in most parts of the USA, and much of Europe, can grow them.

Dr. Deppe likes corn because she is sensitive to wheat gluten. Corn has another advantage though: as is true of most Amerindian crops (there’s a reason we like them), it is very convenient for manual planting, cultivation, and harvesting. The scale of the plant makes it easy. Contrast to wheat, which is backbreaking work to harvest with a cradle scythe.

This is the only book I have read on the topic that is practical instead of purely theoretical. If you are serious about growing your own food, this is a good book to start with. Only $19.77 new, which is a bargain for one of those “keeper” books you’re likely to save for future reference and re-reading.

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