Cold World, Warm Foods

February sometimes brings an unseasonally warm blip of weather, to interrupt our march from November to June, but not so this year.

It’s a marshmallow world in the winter

It’s a marshmallow world in the winter

I hope, unlike a friend of mine in Woodinville whose furnace is out, you’ve been keeping cozy, when you’re not out slipping around on the underlying ice. Today’s projected high of 37F means everyone should hit the store, especially if it’s going to snow again (argh!) this weekend.

And what do you want to stock up on? I’m thinking that ultimate in comfort food: potatoes. What can impassable ice outside do, that potatoes au gratin or hashed browns with eggs not fix? Forget your no-carb, low-carb kick — it’s 20F outside, people!

According to Washivore, potatoes are Washington’s third biggest crop, although 9 out of every 10 potatoes are eaten outside the state. Ah, but that tenth potato! I’m sure you’ve noticed the colorful varieties we’ve found at our Bellevue Farmers Market (I sure miss purple potatoes in the off-season). I love to roast a multi-colored selection when available, but when we get to February we’re pretty much reduced to organic russets and yellow potatoes at the store. Nevertheless.

As Washivore further points out:

…An average (~5.3 oz) potato with the skin contains:

  • 45% of the daily value for vitamin C

  • 620 mg potassium, comparable to bananas, spinach and broccoli

  • trace amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, folate, magnesium, phosphorous, iron and zinc

  • all for only 110 calories and no fat. 
    And potatoes with the skin on are an excellent source of fiber.

In fact, with 2 grams of fiber per serving, a potato equals or exceeds that of many “whole” grain products – like whole grain bread, whole wheat pasta and many cereals.

Even removing the skins doesn’t detract as much as we fear from the potato’s nutritional power. Did I mention potatoes also have B vitamins and highly-digestible protein. That’s one perfect package!

Given that russets might be what you have in the pantry, try this recipe from (who else?) Deborah Madison:

Latkes: Potato Pancakes with Eggs and Onions

2-1/2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled

3 eggs, beaten

1 onion, grated

1/4 c flour or cracker crumbs (bet you could use panko, too)

salt and pepper

3 Tbsp vegetable oil

Peel the potatoes and coarsely grate them by hand or in a food processor. Put them in a bowl of water as you work. When ready to cook, drain the potatoes and wrap them in a towel to squeeze out the excess water. Return the potatoes to the bowl and add the eggs, onion, flour, 2 tsp salt, and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 200F. Heat a skillet with some of the oil over medium-high. When hot, drop in the batter by spoonfuls and cook over medium heat until browned, about 6 minutes. Flip and cook the second side. Keep finished latkes warm in the oven. Serve with sour cream and applesauce or sour cream and minced scallions or chives.


Yummmm. If you can’t wait until dinner, it’s still cold out at lunchtime, and no one says you have to wait…