Friday, November 25, 2011

Let's Not Talk About the Potatoes

Every year I give myself a cooking theme for Thanksgiving dinner.  It's not obvious and it doesn't really involve anything other than entertaining myself.  It only involves the side dishes (turkey, stuffing and gravy are sacrosanct) and it simply provides me with hours of entertainment planning the meal.  One year it was side dishes that were both sweet and savory.  Another year it was dishes that could be considered New York food.  You get the idea.

This year I went with recipes from friends and family.  Over the past few months my house has suddenly become our home and it seemed a good way to celebrate.  So instead of buying the shrimp cocktail, Brian made it (fresh horseradish is my new best friend).  We had my friend Larry's delicious corn pudding.  My mother's friend Eileen's carrots.  My sister's cranberry sauce.  My grandmother's turnips.  The sweet potatoes that were inspired by my friend Mark. 

Really--can you beat brown sugar, butter, bourbon, heavy cream and pecans.

My neighbors Joanne and Carol came over for drinks and hors d'oeurves.  I see them on the elevator all the time and on Wednesday night told them to stop by any time.  And they did!  And it was a huge treat!

Then my cousin Trina showed up after dinner for a visit. 

Look at that--friends and family!  My theme worked out.

And I really think that's why my potatoes failed so miserably.  I've made mashed potatoes about a million times.  Could do 'em with my eyes closed.  And they were so beautiful.  Five pounds of Yukon Golds that looked like they came out of a magazine spread.

Something happened.

Something bad.

Now Brian is convinced that I boiled them too long but in relation to the doneness of the turnips, they should have been just fine.  I drained them, put them back in the pot, added butter, milk, cream cheese, salt and pepper, a touch of sour cream for zing and then, lo and behold, I couldn't find the damn hand mixer.  So I grabbed my trusty potato masher and figured my biceps could use a good workout and that's when it happened.

One mash.  Just one simple mash.  And the whole thing turned into liquid.  Not even soup.  Just liquid.  My jaw dropped.  I couldn't believe my eyes.  It was shocking.

It didn't really matter because I had enough food to feed the Russian Army and no one really missed them but I couldn't get past my complete and utter failure.  And I think it may be because it was just my basic mashed potatoes.  Had I gotten a recipe from a family member or friend, I'm sure they would have been just lovely.

Bratty Girl thoroughly enjoyed picking the marshmallows off the sweet potatoes.  I couldn't help noticing that they left a little outline--kind of like the chalk outline on a dead body.

Even the potatoes couldn't ruin our fun.  (Thankfully, Brian got rid of all the evidence.)  We danced in the kitchen which, if you've ever seen my kitchen, is quite a feat.  In one of those big relationship moments, my father insisted that Brian carve the turkey this year.  And to prove what a stand up guy he is, he invited my fabulous brother-in-law to share the task with him.  We drank champagne.  We ate too much.  Then we ate more.  We had Jack Johnson on the CD player. 

I hope that you and yours had a day as wonderful as ours and that you have as many things to be thankful for as I do.


Renee Anne said...

It must have been the "Thanksgiving In Which Potatoes Are Bad"......ours didn't turn out either and it was kind of the same thing: turned to soup.


Stupid potatoes.

Diane said...

This used to happen to me a lot. One fateful evening I was in the bar of the old "Joanna's" restaurant in Croton-on-Hudson, having a conversation with these two ladies who knew the owners. One lady was of Scottish decent. I was bemoaning the fact that my mashed potatoes were hit and miss, often coming out watery. She told me that I was letting my potatoes remain "waterlogged". Once they're done she pours out the water, but keeps the potatoes in the pot. With the stove top flame up high, she'd let all of the little excess water evaporate so the potatoes sort of "dry out", THEN would peel them and mash them.
I have used this method with success. However, I've never made more than 3 or 4 potatoes at a time.