Long before the Spanish conquistadors came to the Americas searching for gold, the Incas of Peru and Chile had domesticated, grown and even worshipped various types of potatoes found in South America.
When the Spanish came to Peru, in the 1500s, they discovered the wonders of the potato as well, and soon shipped the root to their homeland. Find more about the potato’s history in, Heirloom Potato Varieties Make Great Baked Potatoes.
So when did potatoes find their way into soups and stews? Archaeological digs have found evidence that the Incas dried the potatoes or soaked them in a stew to carry on long journeys.
It took considerably longer for potato soup to become the family favorite it is today. Many years of misinformation followed the poor potato; while they were easy to grow, and the plants were carried throughout Europe, the inhabitants considered the potato to be strange, weird and downright dangerous. Eating potatoes was equated with a variety of diseases, including leprosy, and was often banned as a result.
Idaho is probably the best known place in the United States for the potato. Planted in the territory around 1830, the potato was first planted by missionaries. Unfortunately, most Americans considered potatoes only good for the animals, and not for humans.
It took until the 1870s, with the development of the Russet Burbank potato (the Idaho potato) for the industry to grow into its own. Now, we take the potato for granted.
COLD WEATHER, HOT SOUP
Margaret Bowman, Slayton, Minnesota, would like to replace her recipe for a potato soup that appeared in a farm magazine a few years ago. The recipe calls for mashed potatoes.
Louise Seward, East Wallingford, Vermont, requests a recipe for Sweet Potato Cake that is baked in a tin coffee can. The cake was sliced in rounds.
BEST COOKIE EVER
Eileen White, Ridgeley, West Virginia, writes, "My aunt found an oatmeal fruit cookie recipe back in the 1940s, perhaps from GRIT. They were the best ever."
Joan Blackwell, Daleville, Alabama, recalls a recipe for a yellow squash casserole that she received back in the early 1980s. It contained a packet of dry ranch salad dressing mix and also had shredded cheese.
Lorene Cecil, Aurora, Missouri, would like a recipe for Old-Fashioned Cream Pie. The filling, made of milk, half-and-half, flour, sugar, salt, margarine and nutmeg, was poured into an unbaked pie shell.
Senior Associate Editor Jean Teller enjoys a baked potato on occasion. Information came from What's Cooking In America.
• Betsey Leale, Mineral, Virginia, writes, “Every Christmas, my husband’s father and grandmother would make herring salad, which was eaten as an appetizer. Dad passed away unexpectedly several years ago, and Grandma couldn’t remember exactly how the recipe went before she passed on. I have tried for several years now to find this recipe and would love to have it again. I know it contained herring, beets, and pickles or pickle relish. Any help would be appreciated.”
• Kathy Belt, Park Rapids, Minnesota, is looking for a fudge recipe that does not contain canned milk, either evaporated or condensed. She also is looking for recipes that use chokecherries. She has a chokecherry pie recipe that is too bitter, and she has plenty of jam and wine recipes.
• Sharon Whitney, Kennewick, Washington, recalls a recipe for a rice dish that appeared in GRIT in the 1980s. It also included beef, onions, bell peppers and button mushrooms. Her whole family loved the dish.
If you’ve been looking for a long-lost recipe, or can provide one, please write to Recipe Box, c/o GRIT, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, address and daytime phone number. Recipes cannot be returned, as they are eventually sent to the person requesting the recipe. Recipe requests and responses will be printed at our discretion and as space allows. Addresses are not printed to allow GRIT the opportunity to publish recipes before sending them on to the requesting party.