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You Can Make This: Vegan Potato Tots

There really seems to be a divide between the potato tot lover and the french fry aficionado. That divide is proven here at I Heart Veg, where Loren is soundly on the side of the tot, and Jeannie is all about the fry (but she is not picky about the cut- thick, ripple, whatever you got will do).

Jeannie has now added the tot to her potato love thanks to a great recipe from Cook’s Country for Crispy Potato Tots. Their easy to follow instructions were just the thing to get us into the kitchen and experimenting. Who knew you could make these delightful potato treats right at home? Jeannie always envisioned a special device that was secret to only the official tot makers. Now you can be that tot maker.

I know, it sounds taunting, but it really isn’t. The idea of it takes longer to absorb than the actually making of them. Just follow the instructions closely, and you’ll be sure to find success. See the photos below for our experience and twist on the recipe. Click on the photos for larger images.

There are a lot of frozen potato tots in the grocery store. There are some vegan ones, but many companies still try to throw in an egg or spray on beef fat for “flavor” or color. If you can find a vegan one, you’ll have to deal with hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils, and possibly high fructose. I recently picked up a package that had enough dairy, egg, hydrogenated and partially-hydrogenated oils, and high fructose on the label that potato was the last ingredient. ??? How does that happen?

We love that they can be made up and frozen for up to a month, so you can make up a mess of them and eat at your leisure. Additionally, you can add onions, different spices, and you’ve got endless variations of tots.

If you are gonna have a fried treat, these should be it. Now get off your bum and go make some tots. Now. Don’t keep looking at me.

Processed potatoes
We processed the potatoes per the recipe, and they came out just right.
Processed potato pieces
Process the potatoes until they are uniform tiny bits. Don’t forget your water and salt!
cheesecloth bowl
We lined a bowl with cheesecloth for draining the water off the potatoes.
Cheesecloth potato drainage
Just line your bowl with cheesecloth, and dump in your potatoes.
Draining potatoes in cheesecloth
Gather your cheesecloth, pick it up, keeping the potatoes inside, and you have drained potatoes. You might need to give it a squeeze or two.
Excess water
Removing the starch from the potatoes is essential to fluffy tots. We had just a little more excess water than the recipe anticipated.
potatoes microwaved
Drained potatoes go into a bowl or plate, and we cooked ours for 8 mins. in the microwave. If you don’t get your potatoes cooked, they’ll be raw in the middle when you fry them.
potatoes cooked
Don’t forget to add your flour and pepper when the potatoes come out of the microwave. The potatoes are sticky, very much like sushi rice. Spread them out for cooling.
potatoes ready for chilling
Gather the potatoes in the center of the foil, and place in an 8×8 pan. Pop it in the freezer. Check it after 30 mins. We needed to push the potatoes down for more compression so the tots would stick together and gave them another ten mins. in the freezer. Next, you’ll cut them up.
frying potatoes
A handy thermometer helps you keep on the right temperature while you fry the tots. The oil temperature will drop dramatically when you add the frozen tots.
homemade tots
These homemade tots barely made it to a plate, as they were quickly consumed. Golden brown tots.
homemade potato tots
Homemade potato tots and ketchup were made for one another.

We think you’ll find these tots worthy of a zippered pant pocket.

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What’s Sproutin’ – A Planting Update

It’s about time for a planting update.

We usually plant potatoes, and we’ve followed the advice to cut the seed potatoes into many pieces and plant them. We’ve been successful with this method, too.  However, we recently saw a potato farmer on tv proclaiming that the planted cut pieces encourages bacteria and mold growth that contributes to smaller yields as well. He said to plant the entire potato. He also said that ANY potato would do – you don’t need to purchase seed potatoes. Well, we’d already bought our seed potatoes, so we were late on that boat, but we do plan on buying a yummy potato variety and planting it to see what “comes up.”

This news is completely contrary to our local greenhouse that proclaims that a regular potato that has gone to seed just won’t do for planting. We shall see.

We’d love to hear your experiences with potatoes, do you buy seed potatoes or have you tried planting any ol’ potato and had great results? Let us know!

Our whole seed potatoes are growing:

Potato plant growing in the garden.

We lost six tomato plants early this season to a hungry rabbit. Specifically, this rabbit caught in the act in the garden:

A hungry bunny

We have a lot of rabbits in the yard. We give them sanctuary, some great grasses to hop in, some privet and forsythia bushes to rest and hop about in, and we don’t use pesticides/herbicides on our lawn. They are very fond of the clover that grows in the yard.

A particular favorite spot of theirs is the grass that inevitably grows in the cracks of the sidewalk that extends from our front door. Yes, I could spray a toxic cocktail and rid myself of the problem, but a little weed whack does the job, and they do their part as well. The grass/weeds that grows there seems very tender and they love it.

Mr. Bunny photographed above had found a small section of the garden fence that did not have a tent stake in place to hold the bunny wire (some call chicken fence/wire, but we don’t have any of those running around) in place against the larger, picket fencing. I went out to check on the plants and found him, all but patting his little pudgy tummy. The fence is now fixed and the plants are good to go.

Update on the gutter planting:

After planting the gutter garden, we had a number of nights that dipped into frost territory and we simply covered them with a blanket to protect the little seedlings. They’ve pulled through and are doing great.

Here is a larger spinach plant that we started inside in newspaper pots:

Spniach plant grown in newspaper pot

Here is a spinach plant that we started from seed in the gutters:

Spinach grown from seed in gutter.

The mixed lettuce is doing great:

Lettuce grown from seed in gutter

We really like the gutter gardens and plan on extending them around the fence. They are practical and make growing things like spinach and lettuce a snap.

Our little zucchini plants are starting to produce some flowers:

Blooms of zucchini plants

Our strawberry plants are producing a bounty of ripe strawberries, little though they may be. They are super sweet and just perfect for adding to some soy yogurt or topping off a slice of cake. Oddly enough, we usually have to battle the birds for the sweet bites, but this year the birds have left them alone and we are seeing ants devouring them.

A bowl of ripe strawberries

We hope you’ll share your garden photos and tips!