The potato bed at harvest time is a sad-looking thing. Particularly since this year I stopped watering the plants once they matured, but didn’t actually get around to harvesting them until a few weeks later, by which time the tops had dried up and shriveled away to nothing. Frankly, I’m lucky they didn’t all rot or get eaten by critters.
You should probably harvest your potatoes more promptly.
Shovels and forks can damage the potatoes, so we just use our hands. If your soil has gotten compacted, your little ones may have a hard time digging. If this happens, use your big strong hands to loosen up an area, then let the kids sift through the clods and find the potatoes.
Brush the potatoes off, and keep them in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place until you’re ready to use them.
I like to roast the fresh potatoes — just cut them into quarters (if they’re large), toss them with some olive oil, herbs, and salt, then put them on a baking sheet at 400° (or whatever temperature the oven is, if I’m roasting a chicken or something at the same time), and poke them with a fork every 15 minutes or so until they’re tender.
M. got more elaborate and used some of the Purple Viking potatoes (I am not making that name up) to make Yotam Ottolenghi’s “Two-Potato Vindaloo” recipe from Plenty. It’s not a quick or simple recipe — it has 20+ ingredients and calls for toasting and grinding spices — but it is excellent, makes a huge batch, and will keep for a few days. Also, it will make your kitchen smell amazing.
Yep, that link to Plenty is an affiliate link: if you click it and buy the book (or anything else) I earn a few bucks, which helps to keep the lights on around here. That said, I’d really prefer that you head down to your local independent bookstore and shop there instead.