Pass the potatoes, please

Garden Club members enjoy local harvest at Potato Potluck

Posted: Friday, August 16, 2002

Potatoes were baked into cakes and grated over halibut for the Juneau Garden Club potluck on Aug. 8.

Fifteen Garden Club members brought an equal number of spud-based dishes to the Potato Potluck.

"We just decided that it's one crop that a lot of the Garden Club members grow," said Garden Club President Vivian Meyers.

It was the third year the Garden Club has held a picnic based on local harvest. In past years the potluck has focused on rhubarb and zucchini. At the end of the potluck the club put the recipes into a booklet for members and people who donate plants to the annual plant sale.

"It's a lot of fun," Meyers said.

Sue Conant started harvesting Yukon gold potatoes from her garden several weeks ago, and she expects to keep digging up fresh spuds until the ground freezes.

"They're easy to grow," Conant said. "We just dig them up as we need them, so they stay pretty fresh."

Her husband planted whole potatoes on May 15, dropping a handful of spruce needles in with each potato. The acidity of the spruce needles helps fight off scab, Conant said.

Many gardeners recommend mounding dirt over the potato plants to increase the harvest, and adding seaweed to the soil.

During the week Conant digs up the small potatoes to steam. On weekends her husband fries up some of the leftover potatoes for a potato breakfast. But for the Potato Potluck, Conant created a tri-color potato salad with a fresh rosemary dressing.

One year Sarah Syfert planted six rows of potatoes, and ended up with 500 pounds of the tubers.

"They grow wonderfully here. They just take a lot of space," said Syfert.

For the potluck she made a recipe passed down to her from a Jewish-Danish friend. Filling as all the dishes were, the moist Danish halibut potato casserole had people coming back for seconds. The secret is in the real cream, insisted Syfert.

"That's what makes it. If you use any less it makes it dry," Syfert said.

The Garden Club meets most second Thursdays from 1 to 3 p.m. Advice on growing potatoes and other plants in Juneau's wet climate can be found in the clubs recently reprinted book, "Gardening in Southeast Alaska."

Danish halibut potato casserole from Sarah Syfert

3 red potatoes, peeled

1 lb. halibut, or other white fish

1 leek

2 cups cream


bread crumbs

salt and nutmeg, to taste

Butter a 9 by 13 inch casserole dish.

Layer half the grated potato on the bottom of the dish.

Sprinkle with salt and nutmeg.

Add a layer of raw halibut or other white fish an inch thick.

Sprinkle with salt and nutmeg again.

Pour melted butter over the halibut.

Chop one leek and sprinkle over.

Cover with the rest of the grated potato.

Sprinkle salt and nutmeg on top.

Pour cream over the casserole.

Top with a mixture of bread crumbs and butter.

Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees, with a pan underneath to catch drips.

Check for doneness and bake another 15 minutes if necessary.

Mashed potato cake


3 cups sugar

1 cup butter

Stir in:

6 egg yolks

1 1/2 cup mashed potatoes

3 squares melted chocolate

1 1/2 tsp mace

3/4 tsp ground cloves

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Stir and add:

3 cups flour

1 1/2 cup milk

6 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Fold in:

6 beaten egg whites and some vanilla

Bake in greased pan at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Recipe from Audrey Dodd Clawson, Homer, AK - via Millie Monson, Juneau Garden Club

Tricolor potato salad

8 oz small, red new potatoes (about 1 dozen)

8 oz purple potatoes (about 1 dozen)

8 oz green beans, trimmed

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon snipped fresh rosemary or 1/2 tsp dried rosemary, crushed

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground white pepper

1/4 cup sliced green onions or 3 tablespoon snipped chives

SCRUB potatoes with a stiff brush under running water; cut into quarters.

Bring 1 inch of water to boiling in a large, deep skillet.

Place steamer basket in skillet. Set potatoes in basket; cover. Steam for 15 to 20 minutes or till tender.

Add beans the last 10 minutes of cooking. Drain; rinse with cold water to cool vegetables. Drain.

STIR together oil, vinegar, rosemary, salt and white pepper in a medium bowl.

Add potato-and-bean mixture and green onion or chives. Gently toss to combine. Serve immediately, or cover and chill up to 3 days. Makes six to eight side-dish servings.

Recipe from "LIGHTSTYLE" - via Susan Conant, Juneau Garden Club

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