Welcome 2008

2008 is the International Year of the Potato. I heard that on the radio today and I’m glad that the potato finally is getting the credit it deserves as a tuber that has done more for mankind than any other.

According to the Chinese calendar, February 2008 ushers in the Year of the Rat. I’m looking for the bright side in that. While rats are not known as being visionary and altruistic, they also don’t herd together or get religion. So maybe we can deal with honest rats who simply want to get their hunk of cheese. Although the rats could do a lot of damage to the potatoes, we’ll just have to draft some cats.

I bought a copy of the ‘Sun’. Not the ‘Baltimore Sun’. This is the lurid, tabloid ‘Sun’ you read in the supermarket. It’s got 100 secret Bible prophesies for this year so now I’m prepared.

I’m trying to scope out the ‘08 zeitgeist. I got a mass email that said that immigrants are demanding to blow up the Statue of Liberty. Then I went to the Showcase Cinema and there was a big poster of a blown up Statue of Liberty. Coincidence? I think not.

I don’t know why all this hostility to one of our cherished national symbols, but when the going gets tough they always rag on the women.

Anyway, for no particular reason I want to ring in the New Year with Emma Lazarus’ inspiring poem that is inscribed on the tablets that Liberty holds, and long may she wave.

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Happy New Year everyone!

6 thoughts on “Welcome 2008

  1. Oh, the things we learn on NPR! I’m so excited for the potato, and so excited for myself—it’s only been in these last couple of months that I’ve mastered the art of the baked potato, yielding a fluffy middle and perfectly crusted skin. Coincidence? Not a chance.

  2. i’ve gotten as far as managing to bake them so that there is not a leathery skin and a marble-size uncooked lump in the center. what is your recipe? would you send it? it could be your contribution to the year of the potato.

  3. Best Wishes for the New Year to all

    Try Southwestern (no mash) variation for potatoes:

    Wash and cut wedges (with skin on ) of baking potatoes and Sweet potatoes; place in a baking dish and drizzle olive oil, sprinkle some salt and pepper, brown sugar and chilli powder; bake at 375 for 20-30 mins depending on altitude (we are at 5000 ft so it takes longer)…

  4. Thanks for the recipe, Don. I have to deal with anti-sweet-potato sentiment in my home, though, so I will separate the baking from the sweet, and all will be well.

  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash and scrub potatoes and pat dry. Apply light coating of olive oil, then sprinkle entire surface with kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Place directly on oven rack (do not pierce, wrap, or cover). Allow to bake for around 30 minutes (for medium-size potatoes). After 30 minutes, pierce the potatoes with a fork, once on each side, then flip them over to bake for another 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cut small slit in each to allow steam to escape, even if you’re not immediately ready to serve them (this keeps the insides fluffy, and it’s where many good baked potatoes go bad). If you’re me, you’ll then empty approximately half a tub of butter into each tasty crevasse, followed by a liberal sprinkling of sea salt. As in life, a conservative approach to your baked potato will result in bitterness and contempt.

  6. I’m overwhelmed with potato envy. Truth be told, I have some embarrassing potatoes in my kitchen. I need to go and get some fresh ones, as we just got a new stove and it will be fun to try all these recipes in an oven that can actually keep a consistent temperature. Cheers!

    p.s. The Kid’s page at the potato2008.org website has some interesting facts. Potatoes are the world’s #4 food crop. I did not realize they were that popular. Also, I tend to associate them with being unhealthy because of french fries and potato chips. But I guess it’s all in the preparation.

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