Sunday, December 5, 2021
Dec. 5, 2021

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Check It Out: Eat your spuds and read them, too

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Hot potatoes, National Spud Day is upon us! Actually, the official name is National Potato Day in case any of you are National Potato Day followers. French fries, potato pies, the noble spud wins the prize — no matter the month or day, in my honest opinion.

There is something so very comforting about a potato dish. It really doesn’t matter to me: mashed potatoes with gravy, a baked potato loaded with butter and sour cream, tater tots with blue cheese dipping sauce, or potato chips au naturel, they’re all good and equally satisfying. I’ll try not to get too mushy about the mash, but I am oh so grateful for this versatile tuber.

Now that it’s officially autumn, it makes even more sense, I think, to celebrate all things potato-y. Not only are they good to eat, they’re fun (Mr. Potato Head), they’ve played a major role in history (the Irish potato famine), and they make terrific characters in children’s books (a potato who wants to wear pants — what’s funnier than that?). Whether you want to eat them or play with them, I’ve picked some full-spud titles for you and your family’s reading delight.

May the spuddy be your best buddy!

“The Complete Book of Potatoes: What Every Grower and Gardener Needs to Know” by Hielke De Jong.

It might be too late to plant potatoes now, but it’s never too early to prepare for a spring planting. This guide will give you all the spud advice you’ll ever need.

“The Irish Potato Famine: A Cause-and-Effect Investigation” by Jill Sherman.

Potatoes and potato-eaters experienced a dark day in Ireland’s history in the 1840s – the Great Famine. A potato blight infected potato crops throughout Europe resulting in mass starvation and disease especially in Ireland. This children’s nonfiction book explains what happened.

“Mr. Crum’s Potato Predicament” by Anne Renaud, illustrated by Felicita Sala.

I discovered that some controversy exists over who first invented the potato chip. One story says that a cook in New York “accidentally” created what we now know as potato chips when a customer complained that the potatoes he ordered were sliced too thickly. This charming picture book retells that story; and if it isn’t really true, no matter – the tale is still a delightful one.

“No Small Potatoes: Junius G. Groves and His Kingdom in Kansas” by Tonya Bolden, illustrated by Don Tate.

Now here’s a true story that kids (and adults) will enjoy reading. Author Tonya Bolden shares how a former slave, Junius G. Groves, made his way to Kansas, rented some farm land, and eventually became known as the Potato King of the World. The publish

er’s description says it all: “…a tale of perseverance that remsinds us no matter where you begin, as long as you work hard, your creation can never be called small potatoes.”

“Potato Pants!” written and illustrated by Laurie Keller.

Mr. Potato Head always looked rather dashing in his blue pants, so it’s no wonder that a potato named Potato (of course) really, really wants his own pair of potato pants. But Eggplant stands in his way (or so he thinks) at Lance Vance’s Fancy Pants Store, so what will Potato do? Read this giggle-filled tale to find out if Potato will get a pair of tuber trousers.

“Sweet Potatoes: Roasted, Loaded, Fried, and Made into Pie” by Mary-Frances Heck.

I cannot have a list of potato-themed books without guides on how to cook them. After all, potatoes were meant to be eaten (my apologies to Potato Pants). Well, how about a cookbook devoted to one variety of spuds, the sweet potato? Learn how to mix it up in the kitchen using tubers on the sweet side.

“Tots!: 50 Tot-ally Awesome Recipes from Totchos to Sweet Po-tot-o Pie” by Dan Whalen.

If someone told me today that I could never have another tater tot, I would cry. These tiny potato bundles are oh-so-tasty and perfect for snacks or dinner, or (gasp!) even dessert. Get tot-ally creative in the kitchen by creating Tots Benedict for breakfast, Deviled Tots as an appetizer and Chicken Tot Pies for dinner.