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Last week, my friend, journalist Ray Mueller and his wife Judith came for a visit. Ray is a super gardener and always brings something he has grown. Of course, a winter gift has to be special. Ray brought me potatoes: two giant purple beauties and a bag of small white potatoes.

I've had purple food before, like grapes and plums. I've also had purple drinks, like a grape float. I've never had a purple potato. Actually, it’s an Adirondack Blue potato, but it looks purple to me.

While my guests were still here, I roasted one of the purple potatoes in my oven. I just pierced it, put a bit of oil on the washed potato, wrapped it in foil, and baked it. I checked it after an hour but that one-pound potato took one and a half hours to bake.

On the outside, the uncooked potato looked rather ordinary. It wasn't until I cut into the baked potato that the real color appeared.

I ate half of the colorful roasted potato for lunch the next day with a bit of butter and salt. It tasted like an ordinary potato, so yummy.

If I'm smart, I'll keep a portion of the second purple potato, with eyes, and plant it this spring – I think I'll do that, unless I get really hungry, and eat my last one.

The second potatoes were small and white. Their name is Pinto Gold. Today, I decided to put them to the test.

Ray and Judith said there was a recipe called Salted Potatoes that I should try. It was said to be perfect for the small breed. Since I hadn’t written down the exact recipe they told me about, I Googled a couple recipes.

All the recipes started out with four pounds of potatoes in their ingredient list. I changed my recipe so I’d only use one pound of the Pinto Gold. That would suit me for at least two meals.

First, I scrubbed the little potatoes. It’s a good thing they didn’t ask me to peel the spuds because the way I peel, there wouldn’t have been much left. The whole potato, skin and all – well not the little eyes – is used.

In a small sauce pan, I put a quart of water, set it on the range, and turned on the heat.

When the water boiled, I added a half cup of salt. I used canning salt because that’s what I had – I have to buy some salt for my shakers soon.

Anyway, I dissolved the salt and then carefully added my pound of Pinto Gold potatoes. I then brought it back to the boil and let it go for 30 minutes – the potatoes were cooked after 20 minutes, but I wanted to make sure they got a good dose of salt.

When finished, I drained them. A light white coating of salt appears as they dry.

Most recipes said to have melted butter available to dip salted potatoes in. I tried the butter, but I actually liked them plain.

Salted potatoes

1 pound of Pinto Gold –or other small potatoes

1 quart water

½ cup salt

2 Tb butter

Boil water, add in salt and dissolve, add potatoes, boil 20 to 30 minutes. Drain. Let dry. Eat. Dip in melted butter.

 If you have a salt-restricted diet, these salted potatoes probably aren’t for you.

Thanks Ray and Judith, for the visit and for the special treats you brought. (Ray said if anyone wants to grow their own in the summer, both potatoes can be purchased from Pinetree Garden Seeds and Jung's.)

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net/blog.

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