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I dug the potatoes in my garden this week.

Being from Idaho it is inevitably my favorite vegetable.

Our family always laid up a winter’s supply of potatoes each fall. These were big, hoagie sized russets that could feed 2-3 people each. Often in the evenings we’d ask our mother what was for dinner and she would reply, “I’m not sure yet, go peel some potatoes.” I can still peel potatoes faster than the best scullery help.

We ate most meals with potatoes. Bean soups tasted best over mashed potatoes. Hamburger gravy made a meal of potatoes. Even homemade chicken noodle soup was served over potatoes.

I remember as our family outgrew the dining table (there were eleven of us), for dinner a card table was set up that extended into the living room. I sat there with two sisters, one older, one just younger. Because our parents were at the other end of the next room, our conversations were our own.

A couple of times, after all the little ones had their food, we noticed mom and dad in an intense discussion over pressing concerns, like a bill or a neighbor in need. In those moments, they became oblivious to the rest of us. That was when we’d begin to pass the potatoes.

There was always a large bowl of mashed potatoes, and passing it was not unusual. One day we counted to see how many times we could pass the potatoes around the table and by our parents before they caught on. Three times.

Just for the nonsense of it, here are some potato jokes for your children:

Why did the potato cross the road?
He saw a fork up ahead.

Why didn’t the mother potato want her daughter to marry the famous newscaster?
Because he was a common tater.

Why wouldn’t the reporter leave the mashed potatoes alone?
He desperately wanted a scoop.

What do you say to an angry 300-pound baked potato?
Anything, just butter him up.

What does a British potato say when it thinks something is wonderful?
It’s mashing!

One day my husband and I returned home from town. We had left our son and daughter with instructions to finish their school work while we were gone. When we walked in, we were greeted by an empty house. Then we noticed two large potatoes nestled on the sofa. Tiny voices came from the potatoes. They kept repeating, “Help, we were watching TV and we turned into couch potatoes!”

Our children had taken the vacuum hose, tucked it behind cushions and over the back of the sofa to where they crouched, squeezed into the small space against the wall and speaking through the tube. (head shaking moment. and a groan?) It was also that Christmas that they received roller blades.

“I think,” said the sweet potato, “therefore I yam.”

This print is an early work by Vincent van Gogh titled “The Potato Eaters.” van Gogh said, “You see, I really have wanted to make it so that people get the idea that these folk, who are eating their potatoes by the light of their little lamp, have tilled the earth themselves with these hands they are putting in the dish, and so it speaks of manual labour and — that they have thus honestly earned their food.”

A country girl, a small town girl, and a city girl went into a farm to pick apples. When the farmer noticed one of his trees had been picked, he called the police. The girls heard the siren and quickly jumped into three potato sacks so they wouldn’t be seen.

One policeman kicked the sack with the country girl, and she said, “meow,” pretending to be a cat.

He kicked the second one with the small town girl, and she said, “ruff.” Confused as to why a dog would be in the sack, he nevertheless moved on to the third sack.

When he kicked the third sack with the city girl, she said “potatoes.”

Here’s an inexpensive idea for strength exercises designed for seniors: (to be done three days per week.)

Begin by standing on a comfortable surface where you have plenty of room at each side. With a 5lb potato sack in each hand, extend your arms straight out from your sides and hold them there as long as you can. Try to reach a full minute, then relax.

Each day, you’ll find that you can hold this position for just a bit longer. After a couple of weeks, when the minute is achieved, move up to 10lb potato sacks.

Then 50lb potato sacks and eventually try to get to where you can lift a 100lb potato sack in each hand and hold your arms straight for more than a full minute.

(As I write this I have to admit that I’m at this level.)

After you feel confident with 100lb sacks, return to the 5lb sacks and put a potato in each.

Q. Why do potatoes make good detectives?
A. Because they keep their eyes peeled.

My favorite scene from Toy Story is in the outtakes when Mrs. Potato Head is packing Mr. Potato Head’s angry eyes. For more, go to this blog post.

Finally, the best way to eat potatoes? Spudnuts dipped in sugar / cinnamon. You have to try some with your apple cider this month.

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