Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Do the Mashed Potato

For me, mashed potatoes are a cold-weather thing, so I hadn't made them in a long time until two nights ago. I don't take my mashed potatoes as seriously as some in my family. At Thanksgiving, my grandfather used to keep an eye on the mashed potato bowl and make helpful suggestions to people that they reduce their serving size. As the first grandchild, I could have all the potatoes I wanted, but my grandfather liked to hoard them to form into patties and fry for the next morning's breakfast, so he was concerned about making sure there were enough left. People who like peeled, whipped potatoes would hate my version. I hardly ever peel fruits and vegetables if not necessary for digestability, and I smash potatoes, which means many lumps. I like to serve them with sauteed vegetables on top (mushrooms, zucchini, and spinach are all favorites), but Matt had his serving on the side of pot pie. (I once went to a place in Chicago called the Mashed Potato Club, known for its mashed potatoes, martinis, and drag queens. You could order them with dozens of toppings--the potatoes, not the drag queens--and they were the most expensive potatoes I've ever eaten. Lots of fun, though. I wonder if it's still around or if it succumbed to the Atkins craze.) At any rate, I'll post my mashed potato recipe down a bit further.

Marie, that people born in the 80s are old enough for grad school does make me feel old :) No offense, Tim. My little brother was born in 1984, and he has the power to make me feel about 102. Although I did laugh when he was in high school and very into music, listening to the bands his favorite currents groups cited as their influences, and he said to me, "Hey, Allison, I'm listening to this band, The Clash, they're from your time. Have you heard of them?" Yes, yes, I have. It was less funny when he came in and said, "Hey, my friend said you can get tapes and make a copy of a tape if you have two decks. And, you know, my CD player has those things! Can you show me how they work?" It reminded me of the time I found my dad's eight-tracks in the garage and asked him how they fit in the tape deck in the car. I think I'm getting a cold, and it's clearly making me ramble incoherently. On to other things...

Knitting: I don't think I've done a progress shot of the ruffle-edged cardigan (I think that's what it's called, but I can't be bothered to look it up):

I like this color a lot, and I think it will be cute. Like the satin edging on the blanket, though, I'm not sure about the ribbon edging on this. It might happen, it might not. I'm also on the last ball for the blanket.

Reading: I finished Pride and Prescience. It was a quick, breezy read, not particularly trying for a period feel. I thought it was decent until I got to the last few chapters, which had maybe the lamest solution to a mystery ever. That might be overstating it a bit, but it was completely inexplicable to me and didn't really fit in with the Darcys/Jane Austen (in my opinion). I might try reading the next one to see if it's any better, but for now, I'm happily reading Jane and the Man of the Cloth and really enjoying it.

Writing: 40,355 words. Chapter 8 is done! Word count is 2/3 of the way done! I figured out what this "dark secret" I'd been alluding to for several chapters was, and it wasn't what I expected at all. I like it, though. Now, I just have to decide whodunit.

Cooking: In addition to my mashed potatoes which inspired such going-on, last night I made a pasta dish with some butternut squash tortellini we had in the freezer. The sauce is based on a recipe for a side dish from my Italian professor in college. It turned out very nicely. Matt gave it the thumbs-up. I might try shallots instead of onion next time, and I think playing with a combination of mushrooms might be fun. I have all the stuff to make vegetable stock again. I can tell it's been a cold fall when I've already used up my stash of stock. This'll be a big batch, as I'm hoping it'll last until Butterbean is a few weeks old.

Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

2 1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
6 cloves garlic, peeled
2 TBL butter
4 oz. light cream cheese, cubed
1/4-1/3 cup lowfat buttermilk (more if needed for texture)
salt and pepper to taste

Cover potatoes and garlic with water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain well. Add butter and cream cheese; mash potatoes and garlic. Add buttermilk to reach desired texture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serves a whole bunch. You can also add freshly grated parmagiano-reggiano for a cheesier flavor, maybe 1/2 cup. But this is not the time for the powdered stuff in the green can, people.

Butternut Squash Tortellini with Mushrooms and Pine Nuts

1 pound butternut squash tortellini, cooked according to package directions
2 TBL butter
1 small onion, chopped finely
1 pound mushrooms, wiped clean with a damp cloth and sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup pine nuts
salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, onion, and garlic; cook until mushrooms begin to give up liquid and onion is transparent, 5-8 minutes. Reduce heat and add pine nuts. Simmer gently 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss with tortellini and serve with grated Parmagiano-Reggiano. Serves 4 as main course, or 6 as a first course.


lee said...

Is there ever really a time for the stuff in the green can?!
Sometimes I marvel at how different a simple act such as listening to music is for the generation after us. They don't have to rewind to play their favorite song over and over and over. Hmmm, maybe that's why we're all about instant gratification these days!

Areli said...

MmmmmmMmmmm...your fall cooking sounds yummy! I am really into comfort foods right now. Your mashed potatoes and tortellini both sound sooooo good.

Marie said...

heehee...considering that I wasn't born in the 80's and am still in grad school...wow, I feel ancient. :)
I'm going off to make mash potatoes now. Your version sounds delicious!

Rain said...

My 3 oldest siblings are 18, 17 and 16 years older than me (the other is much closer in age) and sometimes the gap between us feels huge. We all tease each other something terrible about our ages and our differing experiences growing up.

The cardigan looks great so far. The colour is very pretty.

YarnThrower said...

If it makes you feel any better, you make me feel old :-) However, I've noticed as I age, that life just gets better and better... And, aging beats the alternative :-)

I love the color of your sweater! It's going to be adorable!

Stefaneener said...

Ollllld. I feel old. I think it's possibly mileage plus actual age.

That sweater is coming alond nicely and looks like it's going to be adorable. Why, oh, why, don't knitters live in co ops so you could cook, I could do kids and garden, others could do their best stuff, and we could all get our knitting questions answered? Maybe a series of large houses on a cul-de-sac?

I'm off to order books from the library!

Tim said...

I wish I could get paid to walk around and make people feel old.

Although I'm starting to get to that point myself. There are kids in college who were born in 1988. 1988!!

PS - These word validations are getting longer and longer! Tomorrow I'm going to comment, and my word validation will be the full text to War and Peace.