Sunday, February 05, 2006

Mashed Potatoes in the kitchen

Mike here. Ma couldn't get into this site. She used The Common Ills mirror site to do her post tonight and I'm reposting it here because I'm such a good son. :D Here's Ma:

Trina's Kitchen

C.I. asked me to note that at the top because I'm using The Common Ills mirror site.
I can't pull up the main site or any community website. Mike suggested that I attempt to pull up other sites that use Blogger but no luck there either.

Last Saturday, I did a post and I'll be using the same recipe for the post that never posted. My message, error message, was something about a link not being closed. C.I.'s told me that if that happens again, I just need to click on a box by the error message and I'll be able to publish.
Mike has hounded me, as only one's child can, for not interrupting him and the gang working on the latest edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review to ask for help. They all work so hard and are trying to so hard to just get the editions completed and up so they can get some sleep. I did wait in the kitchen, I was on the computer we have in our kitchen, hoping Mike would come down at some point for a snack or drink. I also stood outside his door several times listening to see if it seemed calm but I could hear him speaking loudly in the phone so I knew they were all hard at work.

My plan was to ask the next morning and I left the computer on since I couldn't save to draft or publish my post. However, my husband was the first one in the kitchen Sunday morning and he assumed I'd forgotten to turn off the computer. He did turn it off and the post was lost.

Kat has told me that's the best thing that could happen. Her opinion is that I've stated I post only on Saturdays and that I might not post every Saturday so not posting, for whatever reason, early on got my point across.

If so, it wasn't a point I intended to make last Saturday.

It's been an awful week for the country. We've had Alito confirmed to the Supreme Court and we've lost Coretta Scott King. I'm not sure which tragedy wiped me out more.

For mashed potatoes: Put 1 large (or 2 small) potatoes in a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for at least 20 minutes, until tender. Drain and place the potatoes back in the pot and shake over low heat to eliminate excess moisture. Peel. Put through a potato ricer and immediately add 1 tablespoon heavy cream and as much melted butter and salt and pepper as you feel like. Eat immediately. Serves one.

That recipe is from Nora Ephron's novel Heartburn which I'll discuss in a moment, page 127.
First, let me discuss the recipe. I don't use it. I have a number of recipes I used for mashed potatoes but that's not one. Cedric wrote asking if I had a simple recipe for mashed potatoes. I think I do. However, my oldest daughter, after she moved out, wanted a recipe for mashed potatoes. I gave her mine and she had no luck with it. I gave her several others and still no luck. In desparation, I remembed this one and suggested it to her. She still makes mashed potatoes with this recipe, increasing the number of potatoes depending upon how many servings she needs.

So it may work for you as well. You may have to adapt it some, for instance if you don't have a potato ricer. Here's how I make mashed potatoes.

Wash potatoes, unpeeled. Peel potatoes. (I never use less than a pound but I'm cooking for a number of people. If it's just for you, I'd suggest two large potatoes or four small ones. One large one? If you're as thin as Ms. Ephron, go for it.) As you peel potatoes, bring water to boil in a large pot. (I usually use a dutch oven or, if I'm making a huge amount, a stock pot.) I usually spread out the day's newspaper and peel over that so that when I'm finished, I can just roll up the paper and the peels with it. Wash your hands. Though you've washed the potatoes before peeling, you will usually have grit of some kind on your hands.

After washing your hands, begin slicing the potatoes. How? However you want. Big chunks, little slices. They don't need to be sliced in a pretty manner. Whatever's easiest for you. (I go for big chunks.) Your water should now be boiling. You can place them in the water or dump them in. I dump them in because I know to move back to avoid the splash (the water will be hot). I let them boil for at least twenty minutes. No simmer. Once the potatoes are in the water, the boiling stops, and I count my twenty minutes from when they're dumped in, not from when the water starts to boil again. If you're cooking additional items, this is the time to start to work on them. If this is all you're cooking, gather your other ingredents: butter, salt, pepper and milk.

I don't salt the water. You can if you have no sodium concerns.

Once twenty minutes have elapsed, I drain the potatoes. You can use a strainer or a collander. WARNING: The water is hot. Watch your hands. I don't rinse the potatoes after draining, they've just boiled -- they are clean. I use a collander so I then dump the potatoes back into the pot I was cooking them in and add butter. Using a potato masher, I then mash them in the pot adding milk as I go along.

Use the milk sparingly. Add a little each time or you may end up with too much milk, in which case, you're going to end up with a soup and not mashed potatoes. Once you're content with the consistency of the mashed potatoes (I don't care for lumps, but some people do), you can add salt and pepper if you choose. I do add both. You should add sparingly, stir with a large spoon and taste as you go along to avoid getting too much of either. You can always add more, you can't take out what you've added.

Once you're content with the taste, they're done.

For me, that's the simplest recipe. You may prefer Nora Ephron's recipe. Use what works for you.

When Mike helped me work on my profile awhile back, e-mails started coming in asking if I just read literary books? No. I read all forms of books. I do enjoy the books I listed. Elaine is the first person I've encountered in a long time with whom I can exchange books and discuss literature. I'm reading some Satre books currently that she passed on to me. (She also said that when a Democrat's in the White House, I should know that C.I. reads and discusses novels. But when a Republican is in the White House, C.I. is in research mode and that's always been the case.)

Heartburn is a wonderful comic novel that I've read many times. Nora Ephron's main character is Rachel who isn't a cooking expert but writes cookbooks. Her husband Mark is a columnist and is always looking for a topic for his latest column. One topic he doesn't write about is the affair he's having.

When Rachel finds out about the affair, she leaves Mark. There are many complications and a lot of humor so if you haven't read Heartburn, that's a book I would highly recommend. If you've seen the film of Heartburn, you may want to avoid the book. I wouldn't blame you for that. Other than Carly Simon's song "Coming Around Again," there was nothing worthy of note to me in the film Heartburn. But the book is much more enjoyable.

There were many enjoyable posts this week and I'd hoped to highlight a number of them. With the sites not displaying, I'm unable to. But Cedric, Rebecca, Elaine, C.I. and my son Mike did fine work all week. If I'm able to, I will carry this post over to my own site later tonight. I should also note that one of my sons will be getting married this month and February's posts may be spotty as a result.

This was a difficult week for the community and today's problems with Blogger probably don't provide much comfort. But we made it through the week. If mashed potatoes aren't your idea of comfort food, and they may not be, fix or purchase something that is. And enjoy your weekend.