In the last blog, I told the story of how I was introduced to Bintje potatoes. In this blog, I will tell the story of how Canada was introduced to Bintje potatoes.
A long time ago, in a small Danish town lived a man named Gunnar Paulson. He had a loving family, but wanted more out of life. He wanted adventure. He wanted land. He wanted a better life for his children. Some other people in the same small town had family members that had moved to Canada. These new Canadians wrote about the wide open spaces, the cheap farmland, and the beautiful summers…. and how much they missed Danish food. Canada sounded exotic. Canada sounded like an adventure. And as far as Gunnar knew, no one had been eaten by a bear, frozen to death, or died of loneliness. After many discussions with his wife, Gunnar decided to pack up his family and move to Wainwright, Alberta.
Just down the street from Gunnar lived a young Knud Mortensen. He was looking for a job. He was looking for adventure. Canada seemed like a great place to find both. With his parent’s blessing, he accompanied the Paulsons to Canada. Also accompanying the Paulsons were three Bintje potatoes. They were hidden in Gunnar’s jacket pocket as the family passed through Canadian customs. The potatoes, as well as the rest of the family and Knud, survived the trip to Wainwright. They grew and multiplied, both the Paulsons and the potatoes. Soon there were enough potatoes to share with Knud’s aunt and uncle who lived in Tilley, Alberta. Tanta (aunt) Marie looked after the potatoes with the same love and devotion as the Paulsons.
Knud, tired of working as a cook and laborer, returned to Denmark where he met and married Eva. Two boys and a doctorate in plant pathology followed soon after. When the opportunity to return to Canada to complete his post graduate work arose, Knud accepted. He assured Eva it would only be for a year and it would be a wonderful opportunity for the boys to learn English.
That was almost forty years ago. When Knud moved out to the farm, he got some Bintje potatoes from Tante Marie and began growing his own potatoes. When he moves into Prairie Spruce, the potatoes are coming along…but probably not in his pocket.
The one sure way of enjoying heirloom Binjte potatoes? Joining the Prairie Spruce Cohousing community, of course!
About 20 years ago, when I was a new bride, my mother-in-law Eva saw me peeling store bought potatoes. She promised to bring me in some potatoes from the farm the next time she came to town. Having grown up on a farm with the obligatory giant farm garden, I was none too fond of store bought potatoes and was happy at the prospect of real potatoes.
As promised, Eva showed up a few days later with a 5 gallon pail of potatoes. I was wondering if they would be red potatoes (best for making perogies) or white potatoes (best for baked potatoes). It never crossed my mind, that there were any other kinds of potatoes. Apparently there are; she had brought me a pail of Bintje potatoes.
They look delightful, don’t they. What you don’t know is that the size you are seeing them right now is pretty close to real size. The big ones are about the size of you thumb. I kept a smile plastered on my face as I thought these were the potatoes we left in the garden in the fall because they were toooooooo small. Keep smiling… I am not peeling those things. Keep smiling… maybe I can bake them or something. Keep smiling…what am I going to do with 5 gallons of teeny tiny potatoes.
I soon discovered that the absolute best way to eat Bintje potatoes is at Eva’s house. She boils them with the peels on and Knud peels them while they are still super hot. The potatoes are then put in a bowl, covered with a potato doily (yes, they have one – don’t you?) and put into the bed under the feather quilt until the rest of supper is ready.
I have become a Bintje potato purist as I don’t bother with butter or gravy, I just eat them plain. Sometimes I even skip dessert and just have more potatoes. Well, on the off chance someone in the family reads this, I guess I should correct that. I eat dessert and then eat more potatoes.
If you ask Eva, I’m sure she would make them for you at our next community shared meal. If you ask Knud, he might even tell you the story of how those potatoes got to Canada. These types of stories are of course best told in community, and around a table filled with great food. Let us know if you’d like to be part of our next community meal.
Photo Credit: krossbow
via Compfight cc
The Prairies are well known for the bounty of certain cash crops in the agriculture sector, but closer to home there is the bounty of our individual vegetable garden plots. And nothing is more prolific when it comes to produce than the legendary zucchini plant.
It is often the case that the zucchini squash starts out as a tasty tender morsel that can be eaten raw, skin and all, or cut up and stir fried in a succulent vegetable medley. But sometimes the plant conceals its progeny under a sheltering leaf hoping it will mature enough to produce the seeds of the next generation. Mother Nature’s process of natural selection has bestowed the gift of accelerated development on the young zucchini squash to assist in it’s self preservation. And then it happens. In a matter of days the tasty morsel morphs into a giant impervious monster thumbing its nose at its nurturing caretaker. At this point, rather than becoming overwhelmed the good-natured gardener cherishes the bounty that has been bestowed upon them and mobilizes their “community” in a magnanimous gesture of “sharing”.
Sharing is part of our culture at Prairie Spruce Commons and we will have a shared garden space on site where those members that love to get close to nature can cultivate and harvest produce of all kinds, including zucchini squash. And for those who just like to watch the cycles of nature unfold their extra sets of eyes will help to prevent the attack of the giant zucchini. And in case a few of the zucchini escape notice and grow large enough to squash a small animal, we can always turn them into chocolate zucchini cake using one of our favourite recipes.
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Photo Credit: Matthew Oliphant
via Compfight cc
- ½ cup margarine
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 ¾ cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ cup sour milk
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon cloves
- 2 cups shredded zucchini
- ½ cup chocolate chips
- 2 ½ cups flour
- 4 tablespoons cocoa
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cream margarine, oil and sugar.
- Add eggs, vanilla and sour milk. Beat well.
- Mix together all dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture. Beat well.
- Stir in zucchini.
- Pour batter into greased 9 inch x 13 inch pan. Sprinkle top with chocolate chips.
- Bake for 45 minutes.
Dave and Lill