Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Peeling


Okay . . . well . . . it's tougher than it looks.

My Mom could peel potatoes.
I mean, really peel potatoes.
She did it so fast, that, for years, I thought each potato had two peels.
Because there was always peel where I thought she had already . . .
Never mind.
Okay, so brilliant, I wasn't.
When I was ten, she decided the time had come for me to take my place in the 'potato peeling' scheme of things.
I have to point out that I had been totally fine in the whole 'watching'.
But moms are never satisfied with the status quo.
Sigh.
And to top things off, she wasn't even there.
She had put a roast in the oven, vegetables on the stove, ready to turn on.
I did know how to do that . . .
And a pan of potatoes to wash, peel and cook.
She even gave me a schedule.
At four o'clock, I reluctantly set down my book and headed into the kitchen.
I stared at the mound of potatoes and sighed.
Surely there was a better way.
But this was the sixties.
Instant anything was in its infancy.
And TV dinners were something other families ate.
I picked up a knife and started.
In my mind, I could picture Mom's sure, steady stroke.
Denuding each potato in seconds.
And in one long peel.
Reality was a bit . . . trickier.
Little chunks of potato began to rain down into the bowl.
Hmmmm.
My potato skins seemed to be a lot thicker than Mom's.
Must be a different kind of potato.
Slowly . . . very slowly . . . the white potato began to emerge.
Somewhat smaller than the original.
Okay, a lot smaller.
But finally it was finished.
I glanced at the clock.
Suddenly, Mom's strict starting time instructions began to make sense.
This wasn't her first rodeo.
Three older siblings has stood right where I was standing. Risking life and fingers in an effort to provide the family with dinner.
I picked up the second potato.
Half-an-hour later, I looked down, proudly, at my pristine bowl of newly-peeled potatoes.
Hmmm.
What had once filled the bowl now . . . didn't.
I shrugged and put a pot on the stove.
Filled it to the instructed depth with water.
Added my potatoes.
And turned on the burner.
A few minutes later, Mom came home.
I proudly pointed to the now bubbling pots of potatoes and vegetables and waited for her praise.
She didn't disappoint.
“Good job, Diane,” she said, smiling.
Happily, I went to set the table.
A job I was comfortable with.
That was over forty years ago.
I did learn to peel potatoes.
In a lot less time.
And with a lot thinner peels.
I have never been able to match my Mom's lightning fast, and amazingly efficient knife, but I can make a fairly credible showing.
Or so I thought.
At our last family dinner, two of my granddaughters, ages six and nine, peeled all of the potatoes for the meal.
And when your feeding some twenty people, that is a mound.
They were quicker than I am.
I was suddenly reminded of my mom.
Sometimes excellence skips a generation.

10 comments:

  1. ha ha... This made me laugh. I don't think I would like peeling potatoes with a knife. Thank goodness for potato peelers! And thankfully, I have a 13 year old boy who LOVES to peel the potatoes. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Funny, but I only recently discovered that you could peel potatoes with a potato peeler. Go figure . . . :)

      Delete
  2. Oh Diane, you are so funny... I am one of those people who can peel potatoes quickly and efficiently... years of practice though;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're my new hero! Me, I'll have to depend on my granddaughters!

      Delete
  3. I use the knife too...it just doesn't feel right using the correct tool lol.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Delores, you always understand me. Why use a 'potato peeler' to do something so mundane as to peel potatoes?!

      Delete
  4. Thank goodness for potato peelers. I use the old fashioned kind, but my youngest daugher whizzes through with one you hold by a handle on top and the other daughter uses a knife. And I taught them both.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I bow to your greater skill and knowledge!

      Delete
  5. Diane, I can't peel potatoes to save my life! When we eat potatoes at home, the Significant Other peels them! hee hee! If forced to, though, I can pass muster if I use a potato peeler. Nana and my mother, like your mother, were the master peelers. Using nary but a small knife, they cut very, very thin peels in no time at all. Me? Not so much! Thanks for making me smile with this post! And thank you for participating in the high seas story! :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. It amazes me how you can take the most ordinary, everyday things and make them interesting!

    ReplyDelete

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