TWIN FALLS | Jim Taylor left Castleford hauling more than 20,000 pounds of potatoes. It wasn’t an uncommon Monday morning for the Blick Brothers Farms employee, but his payload was not for profit.
“We like to support the Salvation Army,” said Benny Blick. “They’re a good outfit.”
Taylor dumped his mountain of Blick Brothers spuds in the parking lot of the Twin Falls Salvation Army. The head-high pile of reds and russets came from a 2-acre field the brothers plant each year to feed themselves and to share with the public.
“There was probably 18 to 20,000 pounds,” Blick said, of the load.
On the last day of the harvest, the company let the community pick potatoes out of a re-loader, Blick said. They trucked the rest to Twin Falls.
“It’s an annual deal,” said Nicki Kroese, Salvation Army business manager. “The Blicks are very, very good to us.”
Blick said he likes helping out the organization because of it’s low overhead.
“The end result gets to where it needs to instead of ending up in the pockets of administration,” he said.
On Monday, the end result ended up in wire baskets, milk crates, cardboard boxes and plastic shopping bags as dozens gleaned the dusty pile.
“Taters, taters everywhere, taters, taters in your underwear,” Joe Arias chanted, as he and his wife, Donna, filled a box.
“We drove by and seen them out here,” she said.
Joe said the couple likes to prepare potatoes many ways. “Fried, baked, you name it.”
But they also planned to share their starchy bounty with family.
“We’re gonna take some to the brother in-law,” Joe said. “He’s got a small herd.”
On the other side of the mound, Ileen Adams and her daughter Eleanor Rainey, of Filer, carried wire baskets, heavy with russets to the trunk of a car. They’re familiar with local farmers sharing crops, but preferred picking from the pile.
“This is nice,” Ileen said, “we usually go out in the field to pick potatoes.”
The pair picked mostly russets, as the reds are thin skinned and don’t store as well, they said.
Kroese said the load hit the lot at about 10:30 a.m. She promoted the donation on Facebook with a photograph, and the gleaners soon appeared. By noon, the pile noticeably eroded.
“They’ll be gone by the end of the week,” she said.
The organization saw 76 people walk through its lunch line Monday, so the donation is always needed and welcomed. Some of the spuds will be stored in the basement of the building, Kroese said, and used by Salvation Army cooks.
“Cooking in large quantities is intense,” said cook Chris Newbry. “It’s literally like feeding an army.”
Newbry has been cooking in restaurants for more than 15 years and began working with the organization in February. He and his cohorts will use the donated spuds in many dishes, including his own Tater Chowder.
Chris Newbry’s Tater Chowder
For the White Sauce:
5 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
3 cups milk
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
For the Stock:
3 cups diced potatoes
1 ½ cups diced carrots
1 medium onion, minced
1 ½ cup celery, chopped small
½ cup bacon, chopped
½ tablespoon garlic, minced
Fry the bacon in a pan, then drain fat. Add the vegetables to the pan and brown. Cover with boiling water. Cook until tender. Add the white sauce. Salt and pepper to taste.
Serves 6 to 8.