Monday, March 24, 2014

You Say Potato

This week we Gatchel's say bye-bye to America's Breadbasket and hello to the Land of Potatoes with our trek from Kansas to Idaho.

I don't know about you, but say "Idaho" and my brain instantly thinks potatoes.  And why shouldn't it?  Idaho is responsible for the production of 13 billions (yes, with a 'b') potatoes annually which accounts for 1/3 of the production of potatoes in the entire United States.  That's no small potatoes!  (Sorry, I promise to try to keep the potato humor to a minimum this week.)

When I started my Idaho research in order to put up the wall tonight, though, I really wanted to teach the kids about more than spuds, though  It turns out that the geographic conditions that produce those tasty tubers provided plenty of inspiration.  The actual land itself is one of the things I found most interesting and beautiful.

With its nickname of "The Gem State", Idaho actively produces more than 72 types of gems, from agates to jasper to jade.  The state produces more gems than any other state in the Union and is second to only Africa for one area's production.  Idaho is also responsible for nearly 50% of the silver mined in the United States and also has more gold in its land than any other state.  Mining of the gems and the other minerals that are rich in the volcanic soil of Idaho is a huge industry for its economy.

From the Rocky Mountains to Hell's Canyon, which was carved out by the Snake River over thousands or years, Idah is filled with natural wonders.  Like we saw in Arkansas, due to geological conditions, Idaho has an area of hot springs where the water is said to be among the most pure and natural in the world.  In Soda Springs, where the majority of the hot springs are located, they even had the first man made geyser!  There is the Salmon River, which is also know as "The River of No Return" because the force of the rapids make it virtually impossible to travel against them.  Add in Craters of the Moon which provides a training ground for astronauts similar to that of the survace of the moon and Shoshone Falls which are actually highter than Niagra Falls in places and you have plenty to see in Idaho!

Idaho has also been home to people whose contributions range from the settling of the country to the birth of television.  Interpreter and guide for Lewis and Clark, Sacajawea was born and spent her early years near Salmon, Idaho.  Writer Ernest Hemingway  spent a significant part of his life writing in Idaho and eventually died there.  Philo Farnsworth known to many as "The Father of Television" for his invention of the first fully functional all-electronic image pickup device (video camera tube), the "image dissector", as well as the first fully functional and complete all-electronic television system which led to the creation of the first elective TV, spent the majority of his childhood in Ribgy, which claims to be the birthplace of TV.

All that being the case, I think it's safe to say it's not all about potatoes in Idaho.  But just for the record, in the 1930's by creating the Idaho Potato Commission, Idaho launched one of the first mass media campaigns, including the use of radio, to tout the superiority of Idaho potatoes.  And yes, only those with the "Grown in Idaho" seal on the product can be billed as Idaho potatoes, a ruling handed down all the way from the Supreme Court.

Hopefully, when all is said and done this week the kiddos will appreciate that Idaho offers the country much more than just the potato.

You can be sure that potatoes will be playing a large role in our menus this week, though.  I lost no time tonight by making an Hashbrown and Apple Pancake for dinner.  I know we had breakfast for dinner last night, but honestly my crew could do breakfast all the time.  These crunchy potato pancakes were the perfect Idaho entree tonight.  We had completely clear plates in less than 15 minutes tonight, I was stunned.

I promise you'll want to stay up to date with the blog this week for some truly unique dessert offerings, too.  Tonight I made a Fudge Mocha Idaho Potato Cake. My whole gang was relieved to report this was just a really moist chocoalte cake and not the potato cake they had imagined.  Mikayla helped me out making this one today and it earned thumbs up all around. Well, perhaps better than a thumbs up.  Noah had seconds and would have had at least thirds if I would have let him.  There is less than a third of a cake left.  Yeah, think we liked this one.

So have I managed to pique your interest in Idaho?  It's another busy week around here so stay tuned!  (OK, I'll try to keep the TV jokes to a minimum, too)  A late start for Noah, half a day in Kayla's class, steak fingers, how to grow a potato and some gem stained glass tomorrow.  Until then...

My helper getting ready to make a cake

She earned tons of love today - she was AWESOME!  She went grocery shopping with me, got to ride the horse there, then we rocked out on the way home, she cleaned the playroom then helped me with the cake, followed by making two kinds of play-doh for our playdate on Wednesday, then helped me sort all the laundry just in time for her to earn getting to watch a show as a treat before she crashed hardcore at nap time.  Best day with the Bean in recent memory (behavior wise at least)

She's getting to be a pro

Ready for the oven

Mixing up the playdoh

Her request was pink and purple

Kneading the purple while I cook up the pink

The finished products ready for Wednesday!

And our cake came out in one beautiful super moist piece

For filling his bee chart Noah got to pick a prize at school today.  He chose this nifty Hot Wheels Car

Hashbrown and Apple Pancake

One amazing fudge mocha potato cake

The Idaho wall is up!

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