Friday, June 23, 2006

I Hate Being Sick

I've had some wicked bug for the last five or six days. I thought it was done for, then it came back for Round 2 after a hellish evening at work. But that's more than you need to know. The thing I hate about being sick is that it COMPLETELY throws off any Chowhoundish nature I have. Gimme a ton of Gatorade and a box of Ritz crackers when I have the flu, and I couldn't be happier. Tonight, for some reason I was craving mashed potatoes, and WOW they came out absolutely perfect. I took a pound of potatoes in their skins, brought them to a boil, and then let them simmer until I could poke one with a paring knife and it slid right back into the water. I drained off the potatoes, and put them through a ricer (easily the fastest way to do mashers- just cut them in half, put one half in the ricer cut side down, and press through. The skin stays in the ricer hopper) back into the hot pan. Then, in went 4 tablespoons of very well softened butter and then 1/2 cup of warm milk (I would have used half and half or maybe some heavy cream, but the half and half I found in the back of the fridge was close to collecting Social Security). That last bit is very important, the butter, THEN the milk. If you mix them in at the same time or mix in the milk first, the starch in the potatoes will soak up the water content in the milk and make something resembling glue; mixing in the butter first coats the starch with fat so that it won't soak up all that moisture. Then in go the seasonings (about 3/4 teaspoon of salt and some ground black pepper are mandatory, I also added some Brady Street Cheese Sprinkle from Penzey's), and it's done. They're wonderfully fluffy, silky smooth, and just oh so wonderful.