Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



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Daughter of Ishmael by Diane Stringam Tolley

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by Diane Stringam Tolley

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Potato Peeling Posterity

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 . . .
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' scenario.
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 a recent family dinner, two of my granddaughters, ages six and nine, peeled all of the potatoes for the meal.
And when you are 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.

18 comments:

  1. "Moms are never satisfied with the status quo" - so true!!

    I'm sure you have a whole 'nother skill to make up for your potato peeling deficit, Diane :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heehee! Thank you, Jenny! Unfortunately, they don't come in handy when there are mouths to feed! :)

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    3. Hey, what about Pi Day?? I think your pies definitely qualify!

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  2. I am pretty hopeless in the kitchen .... which was passed on to me by my mother!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Let's hit the nearest restaurant! My treat!

      Delete
  3. Never mind...you have other skills.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm really good at EATING the food! :)

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  4. Brings back memories. My mom was also a pretty fantastic potato pealer, I remember her doing mounds almost every night - she was Irish and my dad was German so we pretty much had potatoes every single night of my life. And....she was an amazing ironer. I have so many memories of her standing over that ironing board. I can count on one hand the number of times I've picked up an ironing board in the last year. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Irish and German? They have the BEST potato recipes! I know what you mean about ironing. My mom used to iron sheets. And PJ's! My ironing basket is an archaeological dig.

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  5. I loved this sweet post. I used to have to peel potatoes when my parents owned a Cafe and made homemade fries. I learned to be pretty fast.
    Blessings for this fun story!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aha! So you'd be one of those 'master peelers' the rest of us are so in awe of! :)

      Delete
  6. I'm like you I can peel them okay I won't beat any speed records. This the only thing that mom can still cook besides a few desserts. Cooking was never her specialty. Every night when I start cooking I put out her tools (she uses about a 10 inch fillet knife and a certain white bowl). We have to have some type of potato (mostly fried) every.single.night this her contribution so we are happy to see it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's so wonderful that you try so hard to help her contribute! She's blessed to have you!

      Delete
  7. I never learned to peel potatoes with a knife, we had those plastic veggie peelers with the twin swivel blade, so things went much faster in the learning department. I was most annoyed with my older sister though as she got out of peeling potatoes forever because the skin on her palms reacted badly to the raw potato juice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Convenient! I wonder if I could discover some malady that objects to my using the vacuum?

      Delete
  8. I loved peeling carrots. Simple, straightforward, to the point. Potatoes? Not so much. Potatoes were my enemy. These days I leave the peel on, and claim it's where all the vitamins live.

    ReplyDelete

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