An American “Southern Food Expert and Lecturer” by the name of Bessie R. Murphy compiled and edited a wonderful set of books called the Three Meals a Day Series during World War II. Each volume was dedicated to
To be used by
The editor explains her mission in the Introduction:
This little series of books is a collection of tested and economical recipes for everyday foods that are obtainable everywhere and suitable for any of the three meals of the day. These recipes are written in plain, everyday terms. They are not all original — the authors of many of them are unknown. They form just a little series of everyday books for everybody from everywhere.
The World War gave every homemaker an opportunity to realize the difference between use and abuse of foods. For years we have wasted much of the bountiful supply of food produced by our country. Let us then not go backward, but let us go forward, bending every energy to make lasting the benefit in health and economy gained from a diet that not only eliminates extravagance and waste in buying and serving, but also affords greater variety.
The recipes in this series call for flour, sugar, and butter. To conserve these three foods just as long as our country and the peoples of Europe need them is the loyal and patriotic duty of — not the other fellow — but you.
The principle concept was to give recipes based on a single staple item which were suitable for one or more of the three main meals of the day. I do love that theme. To date I have found volumes focused on rice, corn meal, peanuts, legumes, salad and potatoes. I have featured several of these in previous posts (see the links below) but have not so far covered the potato – which is a strange oversight given that I have not yet met a potato I didn’t like. Today I want to rectify that omission.
Note that in the following recipes the editor refers to the white potato as the “Irish” or “English” potato (Solanum tuberosum) to distinguish it from the sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) – which, to add confusion to the puzzle, is in some regions referred to as the yam (Family Dioscoreaceae) which it most certainly is not. Sweet potatoes are covered in the second half of the book, and I will surely make them the subject of another post in the future.
So, how do you fancy your breakfast potatoes?
For my American friends, who persist in calling a scone a biscuit, and a biscuit a cookie (in spite of which I love you anyway) I have chosen:
Irish Potato Biscuit
1 cup mashed potatoes 1 tablespoon butter
1 cup flour 1 tablespoon lard
4 teaspoons baking powder ½ cup milk (scant)
½ teaspoon salt
Sift the dry ingredients. Add these to the potatoes, mixing well. Work in lightly the butter and lard. Add gradually enough milk to make a soft dough. Put it on floured board, roll lightly to about inch thickness, cut in biscuit shape, place in greased pan, and bake in hot oven.
For my own breakfast, I have chosen
Irish Potato Omelet
1 cup potatoes (mashed) 3 teaspoons milk
3 eggs ¼ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
Break the eggs and separate the yolks and the whites. Beat the yolks and add them to the potatoes, beating until mixture is light and there are no lumps. Add seasoning. Beat the whites until they are stiff and carefully fold them into the mixture. Put the omelet into a well-greased frying pan and bake it in the oven until it is brown. Turn the omelet out on a hot platter and serve it at once.
For dinner, I feel sure that the concept of cheesy mashed potatoes will not cause any international disagreement:
Baked Irish Potato and Cheese
2 cups cooked potatoes 2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons grated cheese ¼ cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
Run the potatoes through a sieve, melt the butter in a saucepan, add the potatoes, and mix well. Then add the milk, half the cheese, and the seasoning. Put into well-greased baking dish, sprinkle the rest of the cheese on the top, and bake in hot oven about 10 minutes.
And for dessert, who can resist a doughnut?
Irish Potato Doughnuts
1 ¼ cups sugar ½ teaspoon each nutmeg and cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter 1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs 1 cup mashed potatoes
1 cup milk Flour to roll
4 teaspoons baking powder
Cream one-half of the sugar with the butter. Add the remaining sugar and the milk to the well-beaten eggs. Combine the two mixtures. To the cooled potatoes add the dry ingredients sifted together. Mix thoroughly, put on a well-floured board, and roll out and cut. Fry a few doughnuts at a time in deep hot fat.
It is supper time, and what better time to use up leftover mashed potato and cold cooked meat? And as a bonus, you don’t need to put the deep fryer away after dinner!
Irish Potato Surprises
2 cups mashed potatoes 1 egg
¼ cup cold cooked meat Bread crumbs
¼ teaspoon salt Dash of paprika
½ teaspoon onion juice 1 tablespoon parsley
To the mashed potatoes, add the salt, pepper, onion juice, and half the parsley. Mix well. Add the rest of the parsley to the chopped meat and season well. Flatten out a teaspoonful of the potato mixture and place a teaspoonful of the meat mixture in the center. Fold the potatoes around the meat, then shape into a roll, being sure that the meat is well covered. Roll balls in bread crumbs, then in the well-beaten egg, again in bread crumbs, and fry in hot fat until a golden brown.
As a final act of homage to the potato, I give you the instructions from the book for drying your own potatoes:
Dried Irish Potatoes
In many parts of the country, owing to weather conditions and improper storage, hundreds of bushels of potatoes spoil by rotting. To prevent this waste the potatoes can be dried. Blanch the potatoes about 3 minutes in boiling water, remove, peel, and slice or cut into cubes. Dry in the sun, in oven of the stove, or in a homemade dryer. When they are dry, run them into a hot oven until heated through. This will prevent bugs and weevils. Put into jars or cans. Soak the potatoes ½ hour before using them.
Previous post from the Three Meals a Day series:
From Rice for Breakfast, Dinner, Supper.
From Salads for Breakfast, Dinner, Supper.
From Legumes for Breakfast, Dinner, Supper.