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Potatoes and Promises

Sep 26, 2013

I was talking to someone yesterday about this year’s potato harvest. It must’ve been a good year for spuds — she had more than she knew what to do with. So do we. For some reason, my husband likes to plant piles of potatoes every spring in our garden north of Yankton. I don’t know why — he doesn’t even like potatoes.

Well, the joke was on him. This year, they ALL produced, giving him and the old potato fork both a good workout. I think we could’ve supplied Clark Potato Day with all the spuds they needed last month. Garden City potato farmers would be jealous of our bountiful harvest. We’ve given away buckets and buckets, eaten mounds of new potatoes, French fries and home fries, and I think there’s more lurking out in the field waiting to be unearthed.

We gave my father, Lewis Johnson, a sackful so he could recreate a taste from his boyhood near Volin. His Grandma Johnson had a delicious method for making Swedish creamed dilled potatoes. She wasn’t a recipe user, but Dad had found a similar recipe in one of his Swedish cookbooks that he was going to get to me right away. Just as soon as he got home. Honest.

Ja, sure, Dad. Three months and several promises later, no recipe. I figured I’d have to wait until he was dead and gone — perhaps bury him in a potato mound as revenge — then go through his recipes. If father’s anything like daughter, the dirtiest, messiest, stickiest pages would mark the most beloved recipes. 

I decided to give Lewie one last chance. For once, it worked. It only took one more phone call to get a recipe to share with you this week. Dad says, “They’re just the way I remembered them growing up.” He says they'd be good with dried beef or rullepølse. (I'll explain what that is some other day.) 

If you’re feeling decadent, make dilled potatoes the way my great-grandmother would have — use all cream instead of a cream and milk mixture. “I’m sure Grandma never read the damn recipe — she probably just dumped all cream in because it was easier,” he says.


Creamed Dilled Potatoes

From Splendid Swedish Recipes

10 medium potatoes
2 teaspoons butter
1 1/2 cups of half and half, or use half cream and half milk
1 1 /2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup finely chopped dill 

Peel the potatoes and dice into small cubes. Melt the butter in a pan. Briefly sauté the potatoes. Pour half and half or milk/cream mixture over the potatoes and add salt. Cover and cook over low heat until potatoes are soft. Add dill and serve. Serves 3-4



01:27 pm - Thu, September 26 2013
Hi Laura.

I saw an America's Test Kitchen episode recently when they made dill potato salad. When they cooked the potatoes in water, they added the dill stems to enhance the dill taste.

You may want to add those stems when you braise the potatoes in milk.

I happen to like dill, so there never is enough dill.

01:42 pm - Thu, September 26 2013
Laura said:
I'm not allowed to call it potato salad because Dad says it's nothing like potato salad. (Never mind that it sure looks like some kind of potato salad.)

Your idea sounds good to me, though. I'll try it out this weekend.
02:15 pm - Thu, September 26 2013
Heidi said:
Poor Lewis gets a bad rap here... he was probably just protecting a family secret recipe so he could make his millions off of Johnson's Famous Creamed Dilled Potatoes.
07:24 am - Fri, September 27 2013
Laura said:
You have a good point, Heidi. Clearly potato sales are needed to support his dirt-moving habit. Road graders and bulldozers aren't cheap.

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