Monday, November 24, 2008

is it thanksgiving without mashed potatoes?

not in my family...but not for the reason you might think. welcome to another thanksgiving memories post from napa farmhouse 1885™. today's guest blogger is my sister, kathi. i laughed hysterically when i first read her story...i asked both of my sisters to contribute...and they each wrote about the same incident. (it was my first thought too)... i guess when you say "thanksgiving memory" to anyone in my family the first thought is the tale kathi is about to tell...not a warm, loving, special family memory....but this mashed potatoes story...so here goes...a "thanksgiving memory" from my family...

"I have been lucky and blessed to have celebrated Thanksgiving forty five times so far. I hope I will experience this wonderful holiday forty five more times. One Thanksgiving in particular stands out in my mind from all of the others. You are probably thinking that this one special Thanksgiving is the one in which I roasted my first turkey...or the one when I got engaged to my husband...or the one when it snowed and we were all in this fabulous cabin (I just made that up...I live in L.A.). Nope, none of those are the "stand out" Thanksgiving. When I think of this occasion, the first thing that pops into my head is the Thanksgiving when my great grandmother fell forward, face first, into her plate of mashed potatoes and turkey. And you know what? I'm actually laughing right now as I write this. I know, I have a sick mind but in my defense she did not hurt herself and she was not ill. A stiff cocktail, a heated room, a big dinner and being elderly can do that to you I guess. I was probably about six or seven when this happened. Everyone was at our house (20 people or so) and we were seated around a ping pong table. Our regular dining table was too small to seat everyone so my mom used a ping pong table instead. It was decorated and it looked very pretty. We were all eating and laughing and everything was normal. All of a sudden Mamee (that's what everyone called my great grandmother) went down. I swear to God it was just like in the movies. Well, needless to say, everyone just kind of sat and stared in shock for a moment. Then, after a minute, some of the adults got up to help her. She was cleaned up and then she went back to my sisters' room to rest. Honestly, she was fine. All of the other Thanksgivings that I have had since just don't compare-I will never forget that night. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!! Stay well, stay safe, stay thankful and for goodness sakes, stay upright in your chair!"Kathi
Los Angeles

o.k...maybe you had to be there....but looking back... as soon as everyone knew my great grandmother was physically fine...it really was funny...there she was...face planted in the mashed potatoes...and all the adults just looking at her....what a thanksgiving! (and no one in my family drank much so it really was an unexpected occurrence...anyway, i could not let that story pass without sharing a recipe for...what else?..mashed potatoes...or my version which is better known as "smashed" potatoes.i have always loved potato skins as much as the flesh...and therefore don't bother with peeling. i think the fiber and nutrients you get from eating the skins is a more healthful way to eat anyway....so when something is easier and better for you...major score... i substitute extra virgin olive oil for the more commonly used butter...and add roasted garlic...so these potatoes have loads of flavor and will stand up to the rest of the thanksgiving dinner menu items...

smashed potatoes
(serves 4)
1 1/2 pounds yukon gold potatoes ( cut in quarters) do not peel
1/2 cup milk (warmed either in pan on stove top or in microwave)
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp roasted garlic paste (see below)
grey salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

add potatoes to a large pot of salted water. (salt the water like you would for pasta). bring to a boil and cook until fork tender (about 15-20 minutes). drain the potatoes and add back to the now empty pot. cook over medium heat for 1-2 minutes until potatoes and pot are dry (stir continuously to prevent potatoes from sticking). turn heat to low and add warm milk and olive oil to potatoes and mash using a potato masher. the potatoes will be lumpy due to the skins, so check to ensure milk and olive oil are thoroughly incorporated into potatoes. add garlic paste and salt/pepper to taste... additional milk may be added if potatoes are too dry. serve immediately.

roasted garlic paste
you can make this with as many heads of garlic as you wish...this no-recipe recipe is as follows:

with a sharp knife ,cut off the very top of each head of garlic...you should just see the very tip of the garlic cloves after cutting. remove the first layer or two of papery garlic skin from the garlic head...not too much, you want the garlic cloves to remain attached. place the garlic root side down in a small ovenproof pan or baking dish...you want the garlic to fit tightly in the pan...so the pan size will depend on the number of garlic heads you are roasting (make more than you need...this paste will last a few days...and you will use it in everything!)...drizzle cut side of garlic with extra virgin olive oil. sprinkle with sea salt (i like grey salt) and freshly ground pepper. cover pan tightly with foil and roast in a 375 degree oven for 20-30 minutes. garlic should be very tender. remove foil, drizzle with additional olive oil and continue roasting for 10 minutes more.
at this point you can squeeze the garlic from the cloves directly onto toasted french or sourdough bread which is lovely...or you can squeeze all the garlic into a small bowl, mash with a wooden spoon and drizzle with additional extra virgin olive oil to create a smooth paste...taste and add additional salt/pepper if desired. garlic paste can be stirred into your smashed potatoes, added to toasted bread, added to roasted or steamed vegetables, stirred into sauces...etc...once you taste it you will be inspired to add it to almost everything!
i am always looking for terrific recipes for potatoes..so please add your favorites to the comments section of this post...or let me know how you liked the smashed potatoes from today's story...

so..it is 4 days till thanksgiving...and a number of my guest bloggers have let me know their stories are on their way...i will be adding at least a post a day...maybe two...including thanksgiving day...so check back often... and, as always this month..happy thanksgiving!

best,
diane
napa farmhouse 1885
"live a green life of style"

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9 comments:

casalba said...

No, no, you didn't have to be there - I can picture the scene: the stunned shock followed by the laughter. (I bet it even happened in slow motion.)

I have hated mashed potatoes since school days. This is the second time someone has suggested leaving the skins on. The first time was with lashings of cream and butter, but my husband is lactose intolerant, so I always use olive oil and skimmed milk in all my recipes. So your version, yet again, I could try.

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

hi sally..you know how memories change reality? i was positive she fell in the the bowl of mashed potatoes..both my sisters insisted it was her plate..but the memory of her sitting up with the potatoes on her face is very clear! an it felt like it happened in slow motion!

i like these potatoes way better than the traditional version..maybe because i don't use gravy and these really have a lot of taste...let me know if you try them...

and i know you are in italy..and not american..but have a terrific day on thursday this week... you can celebrate too..happy thanksgiving to you and yours!..

diane

Trina said...

Your sister must be really funny. I like her sense of humor!

sandra said...

This story cracked me up. Maybe I have a warped sense of humor, but with the stress of getting ready for Thanksgiving tomorrow, I needed a good laugh.

Thank you, and the potatoes look delicious.

Trailer Park Princess said...

I have been tanked a couple of times at Thanksgivin' so I can relate. Sounds like a paarrrty...rock on!!
P.S. My favorite mashed taters got some Velveeta mixed in...that's some good eats!
Peace Out!!!
Trailer Park Princess

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

hi trina and sally..yes, my sister is quite amusing...and this story is a favorite in my family..
best,
diane

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

hi princess..thank you for your comments...visit us again soon..
best,
diane

beth ann said...

I made these potatoes tonight for dinner. My entire family loved them. Thank you for this easy, delicious recipe.

Beth Ann

Maryanne said...

That story made my day...too funny!