Side Dish: Garlic Mashed Potatoes

S.Kenney 2011

Some things in life are so simple.  Like this wild buttercup flower.  Each state we have lived in seems to have its own wild flowers growing rampant in empty lots, sides of the highways and in empty fields.  I know the bluebell flower is celebrated here, but this is the flower that we see growing everywhere.  My son has a wonderful view from upstairs out his window of a huge field filled with these buttercups.

Buttercups.  Its such a sweet name for a flower.  I remember being around 9 or 10.  I was at the bus stop one day.  There was this boy.  His name was Chad.  I remember him well because he used to eat acorns to shock us.  He said that if I rubbed the flower on my chin and there was left a yellow stain, then that meant I liked butter.  Well, I knew I really liked butter but I was a rather gullible child.  I rubbed the flower and looked hopefully at him for the results.  Yep, I liked butter.

Wow.  It worked.

Rather gullible I said...

Anyway, is there anyone out there who doesn't like a simple bowl of mashed potatoes?  Give me cream, potatoes, butter, and garlic and I am a really content person.

If you read my previous post about the zucchini wrapped cod, I decided to make the recommended side dish from Curtis Stone's "Take Home Chef" program.  Garlic mashed potatoes paired really well with the fish.

What are mashed potatoes without some wonderful milk or cream?  I don't really cook with low fat products when making potato dishes.  I try (key word...try.  I didn't say...succeed) to eat smaller portions of really yummy foods so that we can use whole ingredients even if they might be higher in calories.

Last summer, we were still settling into our new home.  I stopped at a local flower nursery to buy something for our two planters on either side of the garage doors.  I wanted something green that would spill over  and hang off the sides.

I saw something just like what I had in mind and I asked the man at the nursery if this kind of plant would like full sun.  He nodded his head encouragingly and said that it would like full sun.  He kept saying "pot-tito" over and over.  He had a thick accent and I assumed he was telling me the name of this pretty viney plant.  He pointed out several other types but I was sold and happily trucked home my new decorative plants.

Well, I planted them in my front planter.  Indeed, they like full sun and did well.  Towards the end of summer, I noticed some bulbous objects in the planter.  I pulled one out.   Lo and behold, what did I have?

Yes.  You guessed it...

Potatoes.  I had grown potatoes all summer long and had no idea. There were knobs of potatoes pocking out all over my planters.   Ya know, he tried to tell me!!  I didn't know potato leaves were so pretty.  I just might plant them again!

Be generous with the salt and pepper for mashed potatoes.  I can't help it if I have to take sample after sample bite to see if they are seasoned well enough.  I always need more salt and pepper.  I never quite seem to put enough.

MMmmmm.  Yummy, hot, garlicky, buttery mashed potatoes.  I know, not the healthiest but such a wonderful side dish.

I resort to potatoes quite often for side dishes.  Sometimes simplicity is what is ...comforting.  That must be why they call it "comfort" food.  I seem to be leaning towards cooking as a way to bring us all together, sit at the table, and slow down.

I would say that this latest move has definitely exhausted us the most.  With each move, we jump right into the programs, homeschool groups, clubs, field trips, etc.  Not this time.  We've tried to slow things down a notch.

I've kept things at a frenzied pace because we're always asked if our kids get opportunities to "socialize" like kids do when they are in school.  I fretted over this when we first began homeschooling. My kids were in school for their elementary years - many schools.   Quickly, after deciding to try out homeschooling, I realized, that homeschoolers can be easily overbooked.  Instead of being in one school building all day, they are involved in so many community areas and different groups that it can be too much.

Sometimes, teaching them that moving through life at a slower pace is o.k.  We are a really frenzied culture here in the U.S.  Relaxing and appearing to be idle is not tolerated very well.  We're trying to smell the roses a bit more.  Trying to notice things more, like this little bud, that says:

"Stop.  Relax.  Notice me."

S. Kenney 2011

Simple Garlic Mashed Potatoes:
4 medium to large russet potatoes (about 3 pounds/1.35 kg total), peeled and each cut into 8 equal pieces
11 tablespoons/150 g salted butter, room temperature
1 cup/235 ml whole milk
2 garlic cloves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Place the potatoes in a pot of boiling salted water and cook for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.  Strain the potatoes in a colander and allow them to steam dry in the colander for 5 minutes. 
Working in batches, press the potatoes and butter through a potato ricer and into the same pot.  Mix in the milk to form a smooth and fluffy consistency.  Using a mortar and pestle, finely crush the garlic into a paste. If you don't have a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic through a garlic press.
Stir the garlic paste into the potatoes. Season the potatoes to taste with salt and pepper. Cover the potatoes and keep them warm.

Labels: , , , ,