Star Power of The Potato and The Gigantic Turnip

 A great picture book for kids that comes to my mind around this time of year is Barefoot Books "The Gigantic Turnip" by the author, Aleski Tolstoy and illustrator, Niamh Sharkey.

Here's a little bit about the book:

The Gigantic Turnip

Find out what happens when the old woman, the old man, and all twenty-one animals on the farm try to harvest a rather large root vegetable. This well-loved Russian tale uses humor, counting and repetition to appeal to beginner readers. Book with CD editions include story read by Ellen Verenieks.
Ages 3 to 7 years

Written By: Aleksei Tolstoy
Illustrated By: Niamh Sharkey
Narrated By: Ellen Verenieks

Paperback Book $7.99 My Book Store

This popular picture book is available in Spanish as well for the same price. 

Starting Thursday (weekend special offer) enjoy 20% off, plus get free shipping on orders of $60 or more at

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Nana's Mashed Turnip



  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. Place turnip and potatoes in a large pot with enough water to cover, and bring to a boil. Cook 25 to 30 minutes, until tender. Remove from heat, and drain.
  3. Mix milk, 2 tablespoons butter, and sugar with the turnip and potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Mash until slightly lumpy.
  4. Transfer turnip mixture to a small baking dish. Dot with remaining butter. Cover loosely, and bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove cover, and continue baking about 8 minutes, until lightly browned.

Turnip Recipe

As I was gathering up some ingredients for our Thanksgiving preparations, I wrote this article about the "humble potato" and called this a befitting ode to the "lowly spud".

For many centuries now, the potato has been nominated in its supporting role shared with the spotlight on the main bird, the turkey, celebrated during Thanksgiving meals everywhere around the world. 

The potato comes in the form of over 5,000 varieties to choose from. I once planted the tubers and grew the potato in my garden and I have seen many varieties at our local farmer’s markets such as Brown Russets, Yukon Golds, white fingerlings, tiny egg-shaped new potatoes and red, purple, even blue potatoes. They all taste good and can easily be gobbled up but watch out for the green ones, especially those that have been sitting in the sun for quite awhile because they tend to have a bitter taste.

Goodness of the Potato 

Yes, a potato comes power-packed with lots of good nutrients, mostly more potassium than a banana to keep your heart and all of your cells happy. Potatoes are high in fiber to help with digestion and support your immune system with Vitamin C. You will find the potato is high in Vitamin B6 for your metabolism, plus the iron gives you needed energy. The potato is a good carb and is low in fat. Keep in mind that most of the nutrients are just under the skin so scrub lightly and enjoy.
The Russet Burbank potato is a large brown-skinned, white-fleshed variety of potato. It is commonly used in French fries in fast food restaurants. When used for making potato chips, it results in a dark-colored chip due to caramelization, its sugar content being higher than that of the Maris Piper potato, more commonly used by chip makers. It is also of high antioxidant activity, which is rare for starches.

Potato Power Types 

I thought of some of my favorite ways to prepare potatoes and maybe you would like to add to the list as well.

1. Smashed-Mashed Potato 

Have you ever mashed a potato and added sour cream? Tasted mashed potatoes with caramelized shallots or scallions? Then there’s mashed potatoes with a kick, adding Horseradish!

2. Cheesy Cheddar Potato Boat 

If you are on a diet or perhaps you are board with a plain baked potato and would like some suggestions in entertaining kids with a new recipe, the toppings for a baked potato are endless. Beginning with a fluffy oven baked potato adding sour cream and green onions to bacon bits and cheddar cheese shredded and melted on top. This is a meal of its’ own. Some dieters prefer cottage cheese and mustard in place of all the butter. Also, there is the Twice Baked Potato with Horseradish.

3. Pan-fried Potato
Whether you cut the potato in thin rounds, French-fry sticks or grated for hash browns, with a little bit of oil in the skillet you can serve up a hot dish that is satisfying with a choice of catsup or salsa for dipping. How about those garlic fries?

4. Grilled Potato
5. Oven-Roasted Potato and Scalloped Potatoes

6. New Potato (with lemon-butter) 

7. Potato Pancake , Potato Hash and Potato Bake Casserole with Bacon topping. 

8. Latkes 

9. Spanish Potato Tortilla 

10. Potato Salad, German Potato Salad, Nicoise Salad with Yukon Gold Potatoes adding Fennel. 

Being Greek, one of my favorite Mediterranean dishes is roasted vegetables in olive oil. Adding a cubed potato or two along with bell peppers, onion, garlic, zucchini, and carrots is a delicious, healthy meal to serve, with or without meat. Remember to add the oregano and I guarantee everyone will be drawn into your kitchen by the wonderful aroma and gathered around your table, family and guests will be complimenting and thanking you for this one.

Creativity with the Potato
If you are a “Potato Picasso” and enjoy making crafts with children, undoubtedly you have experimented with block printing. Perhaps you have added carrots and cut out paper feathers for your funny looking character, Mr. Spud Turkey. Do you remember placing toothpicks around your potato and standing it upright in a glass jar or vase in anticipation and joyful expectation of having your very own “sprouted potato” vine or bush? I do!

History and Origin 

Do you remember going to the root cellar to gather up some winter squash or a potato or two to bring up to the house? I was thinking about the starchy, tuberous crop called the potato, also belonging to the nightshade-family and its origin. Perhaps our story should begin with, “Once upon a time a lowly, tuberous vegetable growing wild in the Andean Mountains became the amazing, powerful potato. It seems the early beginning of the potato has genetically tested origins from Southern Peru, where potatoes were first domesticated between 3000 BC and 2000 BC.

The birthplace of the "Irish" white potato that we eat today is in the Andean Mountains of South America, at heights of 4,000 to 6,000 feet. The potato was cultivated more than 6,000 years ago near Titicaca Lake, on the border between PerĂº and Bolivia.

Once established in Europe, the potato soon became an important food staple and field crop. The potato was brought to Ireland, in 1565 as one story goes while others say Sir Walter Raleigh first grew it there in 1585. But lack of genetic diversity, due to the very limited number of varieties initially introduced, left the crop vulnerable to disease. In 1845, a plant disease known as late blight spread rapidly through the poorer communities of western Ireland, resulting in the crop failures that led to the Great Irish Famine. Approximately 1,500,000 Irish people died, while another 1,000,000 emigrated, primarily to the United States.

The potato remains an essential crop in Europe. The potato is the world's fourth-largest food crop, following rice, wheat, and maize. China is now the world's largest potato-producing country, and nearly a third of the world's potatoes are harvested in China and India.

What is amazing to me is that the easily-grown plant has the ability to provide more nutritious food faster on less land than any other food crop, and in almost any habitat.
Potatoes have been one of mankind's most important food staples for the past millennium. Throughout Latin America, the potato still goes by the Quechua name PAPA.

So, for this wonderful holiday with grateful hearts and thankful for so many blessings, may you eat and enjoy the power of the potato, while perhaps later on towards the end of the day, turning into that “couch potato.”

I have been gardening for 37 years. I enjoy eating from the abundance of the land and sharing good, healthy fruits and vegetables with family and friends. 

Wishing you many blessings around your Thanksgiving table!

-- Love, LadyD
“You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me.” — C. S. Lewis Amplify

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