Thursday, April 5

Mashed Potatoes

My mother expresses love in many ways, but two are a bit more involved in terms of production.

Christmas bounty

First, she gives gifts.  Every year, my sister and I listen to solemn warnings that this year Christmas won't be as present-oriented as it was in previous years.  This is fine with my sister and me because we are not spoiled brats and because a white Christmas in Maine with the whole family is more than enough.  Especially when pies and flan are wedged into two separate refrigerators while the desserts that do not quite fit line the steps in the garage, and your grandmother buys a two liter bottle of Bailey's for the next seven days.  Nevertheless, when Christmas Day comes, presents still blanket the floor beneath the tree and my mother listens to our protests with a kind of giddy mischievousness.

the heroic banana cream pie-cutting effort

Second, my mother expresses her love through food whether it is via a sympathetic text ("Poor baby. Eat some chocolate." eventually followed by, "Better yet, go for a run") or through every candle-lit dinner we have as a family.

This past December, my mother managed to combine these two tendencies perfectly: she gave me the present of a potato masher with which I could now make my own comfort meals! And it is ergonomically designed for ease-of-mashing.


Previously, I mashed potatoes and the occasional tomato with slotted spoon and a regular spoon.  It did not work very well.  Not counting the mashing effort however, making mashed potatoes is surprisingly easy and obviously tasty.  And you can make fried potato pancakes with the leftovers!

Mashed Potatoes
from Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food

3 russet potatoes
1/2 cup potato-cooking water
4 tbs olive oil

Bring a pot of well-salted water to a boil.
Peel the potatoes and cut them into medium-sized pieces.  Cook them in the boiling water for about 15 minutes, or until the insides of the potatoes are dry and flakey, but tender.
Drain the potatoes and set them aside to cool.
In the same pot, heat the oil and potato-cooking water.  Add the potatoes to the pot and mash everything together.  Add as much salt as you want and eat.
Substituting milk for the potato-cooking water and butter for the olive oil will make the potatoes creamier.

boiled and drained

potato pancakes!
Right now I am going through a French pop music phase, mostly because my French teacher keeps introducing the class to new songs and I keep buying them.  My current favorite is Zaz's 'Je Veux':

Waters, Alice, Patricia Curtan, Kelsie Kerr, and Fritz Steiff. "Mashed Potatoes." The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution. New York: Clarkson Potter, 2007. 319. Print.