Posted tagged ‘mashed potatoes’

“Happy Day After Christmas, Merry Rest of the Year, even when Christmas is over, The Light of the World is Still Here!”

December 26, 2017

Gracie and I are back home, and my car is in good order. It took longer than I expected as what was wrong didn’t matter, only my place in line. It is cold, 28˚, but tonight will be colder. By the middle of the week, we’ll be down to single digits. I will be hibernating.

Christmas Day was wonderful. I used the morning to prep for dinner, to get all the veggies ready for cooking. My friends arrived a little after 2:30. We drank some egg nog and then opened presents. We go in turn so we can see what we each got. Well, I’m thinking we were perfect, as good as gold, as Santa left great presents. I got a whole sackful of foot cozies which made me laugh. I love foot cozies and the ones I have left deserve retirement. I got a wrap to keep the cold at bay. I figure it will come in handy on Thursday. I also got a Christmas sweater as I didn’t have any Christmas clothes other than a t-shirt. There were earrings and so much much more. I gave my two friends each a bag of gifts, a bag Santa would be glad to carry from house to house. They loved their presents as well.

During the presents portion of the day, I was up and down finalizing dinner. We sat down later than I expected, but it is true that good things come to those who wait. The beef was scrumptious. The green bean casserole was a hit as were the potatoes. The carrots were good but were out-classed by the beef and the green beans. We sat at the table for a long while enjoying dinner and each other. Gracie was happy for her beef scraps and even Maddie enjoyed the meat.

After the dining room was cleared and the kitchen cleaned up. I turned on the dishwasher and we all sat in the living room. Gracie lost her footing on the couch and fell into the tree. She was scared but managed to calm down and get back on the couch where she fell asleep. I sat with her and patted her. Meanwhile, Clare asked about dessert. We decided we finally had enough room for the peppermint cheesecake Clare had made. It was unbelievably delicious from the crust to the peppermint cane topping. All of us yummed as we ate. The cheesecake was like tasting Christmas. It’s a good thing Clare left me some. I’ll leave it that.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were amazing. We honored tradition with our gingerbread houses. We laughed at some of our presents, and each of us belonged to the clean plate club even after a couple of extra helpings. Dessert was heavenly. The company couldn’t have been better. I loved Christmas this year.

“Food is the most primitive form of comfort.”

April 23, 2017

Weather is so relative that today’s 57˚ feels warm and springlike, a sit on the deck in the sun sort of day. I might even need sunglasses.

My sister in Colorado and I had our usual Sunday phone call. Today we found two hours worth of conversation ranging from potty training to Trump.

When I was a kid, I never spent much time on the phone. I remember the party line and Mrs. McGaffigan who shared the line. Sometimes I’d pick up the receiver and hear her voice and listen to her conversation: I’d eavesdrop. She caught me several times. I never said a word when she did. I just put the receiver down. My phone number started with ST 6. I used to love the sound of the rotary dial when it clicked back after I entered a number. The phone was black. I think all the phones back then were black.

I miss phone booths. Anytime I passed by one, I’d check the coin return. Once in a while, I’d be lucky enough to find a dime, big money back then. It never seemed strange to me that Clark Kent had room enough to change to Superman in a phone booth. I did wonder what he did with his clothes and why nobody noticed when he was changing. Maybe he was just too quick.

Back then, I didn’t know a single kid who was a skeptic. We accepted most things at face value. The movie monsters were scary. We never saw the strings propelling spacecraft. We accepted the odd looking aliens. We didn’t make fun of movies. We naturally suspended disbelief. I laugh now at those same movies, but I love them still.

Roast beef, gravy, mashed potatoes, and peas are my favorite meal. My mother cooked it for our last family dinner before I left for Peace Corps. She used to put slices of onion on top of the roast, and they were delicious. It is the best of all my comfort meals. I remember my mother peeling potatoes at the sink and my father carving the meat. I still count mashed potatoes and peas among my favorites. I don’t have roast beef all that much anymore. Roast chicken has replaced it and stuffing has been added as a side.

I don’t cook much for myself anymore. I’m into quick and easy, but I’ve found shortcuts for that chicken dinner. I buy rotisserie chicken, real, already mashed potatoes and frozen peas. I call that the modern interpretation of down home comfort food.

“The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.”

February 24, 2017

I was shocked when I went to get the newspapers. It was far warmer than I expected. It’s a deck day, a winter deck day. I’m going to finish here and get outside to enjoy the warmth before it disappears.

I am very late because I went to buy Chinese food for lunch. I had a hankering. After Gracie and I got home, I had to eat before my food got cold. It was totally delicious which is a good thing as that Chinese food, now a leftover, will also be my supper.

I have favorite leftovers. My chili is better on the second day so I make it a day ahead. That means, stay with me now, we are eating a leftover, a sort of leftover anyway, the first time I serve it. It is the same with my sausage cacciatore. I figure the tomatoes are what makes the dishes better the second day. They get to meld with everything else overnight. Dinner of Thanksgiving leftovers is almost as good as the original meal.

When I was a kid, a dinner of all the Thanksgiving leftovers was almost as good as the original meal. I know the turkey generally outlasts its welcome and is sometimes greeted with groans of not again, but for a few days after Thanksgiving, the turkey appeared in every meal except breakfast, and we never complained. The turkey sandwich was my favorite. On the toasted bread, I piled turkey, cranberry sauce and stuffing. I used mayo.

I made meatloaf a couple of weeks back. I had it with mashed potatoes and peas, my favorite combination. That was my dinner for two nights then the leftover meatloaf became an always delicious sandwich for my lunch. I use mayo.

I know people who won’t eat leftovers. Their reasons are seldom rational. The favorite answer is,”I don’t eat them because I don’t like them.” A why don’t you like them never gets an answer.

I bought dog food yesterday and I also bought 2 boxes of girl scout cookies. A friend at Agway stores the cookies for her daughter. My favorite used to be thin mints, but now I buy tagalongs which are peanut butter and chocolate, known elixirs for what ails us.

“Happiness is a hot bath on a Sunday afternoon.”

February 12, 2017

The clouds are storm clouds, maybe carrying a couple of inches of snow, but I wouldn’t mind. The new flakes will cover the dirty snow left on the sides of the roads and the sawdust and small branches covering the snow on my lawn.

Gracie went down the back steps this morning. I was going to lead her down, but she left without me and made it down safely. On the inside steps, though, Gracie’s back leg slides so I stand beside her as she goes from step to step.

The house is getting dark, but I like the feel of today. It is a comfortable day, a day to stay warm and cozy. The cat and dog are sleeping. The dog is snoring, not unusual.

When I was a kid, days like today sometimes made us quiet. We could sit and watch TV and say very little, just watch the shows. We never fought about what to watch. There weren’t many choices. We had a schedule we kept to every night. Mostly I remember the years of the westerns. I swear we watched at least two every night. I remember watching The Adventures of Rin, Tin, Tin, of Wild Bill Hickock, Kit Carson, and Jim Bowie. Rin, Tin, Tin was my favorite Adventure. I watched Annie Oakley and Bat Masterson and so many more. I think that’s why I’m not a fan of westerns. I’ve had my fill already.

I used to like to lie in bed under the covers with my headboard lamp shining on my book. It was always quiet. The noise was downstairs. Sometimes I’d take a nap but not on purpose. I just fell asleep.

We usually had a 1 or 2 o’clock Sunday dinner because it was also the day of eggs and bacon for breakfast so we weren’t hungry until later. My favorite was roast beef, but we had roast chicken more which I never really minded. Always mashed potatoes, LeSoeur peas and one other vegetable.

My mother used to use the school night argument to get us to go to bed early. We’d argue and got a bit more time. My little sisters went first then a half hour or so later my brother and I went to bed. I don’t remember much after that. I easily fell asleep.

Sunday can be the best day of the week sometimes.

 

“May you live every day of your life.”

January 13, 2017

Today is the last of the warmth. Cold is coming tonight when it will be down to the 20’s. Luckily, though, the snow is gone, and the ground is far drier than it had been. The mud is back to dirt. It is time to wash the kitchen floor. It is filled with paw prints. I can’t remember when it was ever this dirty.

Gracie and I will be out and about today. I have a couple of stops to make. She would be disappointed if I didn’t take her.

My days lack structure. I read the papers and drink coffee in the morning, and that’s my only routine. Sometimes I make my bed but mostly I don’t. I eat when I’m hungry. Cereal and eggs are often lunch and even dinner, seldom breakfast. My fridge is filled with food easy to eat just as it is like tabouli, yesterday’s lunch. If I’m in the mood, I cook dinner. Chicken is a favorite. Mashed potatoes already cooked are generally my side of choice. I eat a vegetable if I have one. I buy salad in the bag and add things like dried cranberries. My bread is naan or pita bread for the hummus and tabouli. Around the middle of the month when my larder starts to get empty, I treat myself to take-out. My favorite place is Spinners where I can get Mexican, soup or pizza. I’m also a fan of Chinese food.

My bedtime is whenever I’m tired. It is usually after midnight, sometimes as late as two or three. I wake up whenever. This morning a phone call woke me at nine. I tried to go back to sleep but couldn’t. The phone call was a robocall. I made coffee.

I pretty much wear the same type clothes every day: pants, a shirt and, in winter, a sweatshirt. Seldom do I go anywhere which demands dressy clothes. That’s just fine with me. If I go out to eat, I skip the sweatshirt.

My life is uncomplicated. I really enjoy it that way.

 

 

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”

November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

My mother always got up at the crack of dawn to stuff then roast the bird. My sisters and I figure she must have the biggest bird on record to roast it for so long. She’d then be in the kitchen most of the morning peeling and then cooking potatoes and vegetables. We’d be in the living room watching the parade. That never changed even when we were adults. The turkey got smaller and we helped prepare dinner, but we still watched the parade. We added mimosas to the morning and the beginning of the celebration.

My father was glued to the TV and football games. He’d only take a break to carve the turkey and eat dinner. I can still picture him munching on his turkey leg, and I remember his plate always had a mound of mashed potatoes covered in gravy. My dad wasn’t big for a variety of vegetables but he did love his asparagus, always canned, never fresh, and creamed onions. For the rest of us, the table groaned from the number of dishes filled with vegetables. My contribution was sometimes a Waldorf salad, and I always brought date-nut bread, my grandmother’s recipe. After dinner my father returned to football. The rest of us would sit at the table and talk for a while then my mother and I would start the clean-up.

Dessert was served later. My mother usually made pumpkin and lemon meringue pies. I brought apple pie, stacked high. My dad loved dessert. He’d eat his apple pie with a slice of cheddar cheese and cover a piece of pumpkin pie with whipped cream.

The evening was quiet. If any of us got hungry, we’d have a hot turkey sandwich with stuffing and cranberry sauce on the side.

Our Thanksgiving was family, food and football.

 

NOTE: I found Tuesday’s posting. It was in drafts but it didn’t appear when I looked. It is now posted under the picture for Tuesday.

Last night I almost hit a deer. It was crossing the street and was right in front of my car. I slammed on the brakes so hard I skidded a bit sideways. It was the proverbial deer in the headlights for what seemed like forever. The deer, out of fear, lost its footing and was scrambling in front of the car. Finally, after what seemed like forever, the deer got control of its back legs, got up and ran. It took me a while to calm down.

“Facts must be faced. Vegetables simply don’t taste as good as most other things do.”

February 28, 2016

We have lots of sun this morning and a light blue sky, but the day is breezy and cool. I can hear the sweet sounds of the wind chimes blowing.

I’m in a Sunday frame of mind, the kind of Sunday we had when I was a kid, a quiet day, a hang around the house day waiting for dinner. Sunday was always special. It was the only day we had dinner, a fancier fare than we had all week. Dinner was always in the afternoon, usually around two. Supper was at night. My dad used to work late and wasn’t always home in time for supper. We were always together for Sunday dinner. The meal centered around a roast of some sort and mashed potatoes. The vegetables differed from week to week. Bread was never served though I remember it was always on the table at the Cleaver’s, the Walton’s and most other programs about families. Their bread wasn’t fancy, just sliced bread stacked on a plate. I never saw any of them use salt or pepper on their foods. We didn’t either. The table held our plates and silverware and the food. There was barely room for the six of us. Most times my mother would move the food to the counter after we had served ourselves. If we wanted more, she’d always get up to serve us. I don’t remember my mother ever sitting down for an entire meal. We seldom had dessert, not even at Sunday dinner. If there was any in the house, we’d have a bowl of ice cream or we’d grab a few cookies, Oreos were the favorite.

I didn’t know until I was older that potatoes could be more than mashed or French fried. I was surprised to find out carrots and potatoes weren’t the only vegetables which could be served fresh, not out of a can. I did know about corn on the cob, but that was a summer vegetable for a cook-out.

I don’t remember having Sunday dinners in the summer. We had picnics at the beach and cookouts in the backyard. We ate a lot of hamburgers and hot dogs. Corn on the cob and baked beans, out of a can of course, were usually the vegetables. In those days we never had salad. Potato salad came much later, when we were older. Green salad was never a hit.

Despite the canned veggies and the lack of salads and greenery, we were healthy kids. We suffered from the usually maladies of childhood in those days like measles or the mumps, but that was about it. I might have wished to have a few stay at home from school sick days, but I wasn’t ever that lucky.

 

“If God had created celery, it would only have two stalks, because that’s the most that almost any recipe ever calls for.”

November 21, 2015

Today is the quintessential New England fall day. The sun is shining, the sky is a light blue, a breeze becomes a wind then a breeze again and the temperature is in the high 40’s, low 50’s. This is the sort of day when all the fathers in my neighborhood would rake then burn the leaves. Each would stand on the side of the street in front of his house rake in hand as he tendered the fire and fed it leaves. The smoke carried that wonderful smell which still means fall to me. I loved to watch the small fires and listen to the crackling sound the leaves made. I remember the smoky smell stayed on my jacket long after the fire had gone out. I miss that smell of burning leaves. It was my favorite fall ritual.

When I was growing up, my mother was an average cook or maybe I should say cooked average foods or common foods. She knew fancy meals and my father were not a good match, and we four kids would probably refuse to eat something for dinner hithertofore unknown. What is it was usually the kiss of death for any new dish. I’m not eating that said in disgust generally followed my mother’s answer. Potatoes were always mashed and so were carrots to disguise they were vegetables. I don’t know why vegetables had such a bad rap with every kid I knew. Just saying the word gave us a shutter. We knew they’d be at least one on our dinner plates, and we hoped it was a vegetable from the sanctioned list of acceptable vegetables. It was a small list. Peas topped my list and corn of any sort was on all our lists. Creamed corn, though, was not a huge favorite of mine. I always hated how it spread all over the plate and its color wasn’t all that appealing. We seldom left food on our plates because my mother was smart. She always served us stuff she knew we’d eat.

When we were older and our palates had expanded, my mother cooked all sorts of food for us. By then I had gotten over my distaste for vegetables except for beans and Brussels sprouts. Potatoes didn’t have to be mashed and carrots no longer needed a disguise. My mother, it turns out, was a fantastic cook. She had hidden her culinary talents until we were old enough to appreciate them.

I was my mother’s sous chef. It was a huge honor.

“People can say what they like about the eternal verities, love and truth and so on, but nothing’s as eternal as the dishes”

June 28, 2015

Last night the sky opened and the rain fell and kept falling until just a little while ago. I’m thinking we got an inch or more of rain. During the height of storm the wind was fierce, and the trees were blown about as if it were a hurricane. I have a branch down in the front yard, and my umbrella, despite its 100 pound base, tipped over onto the deck rail. One of my giant clay pots either fell or, more likely, was shoved off the rail and it shattered on the steps. I saw two grey spawns chasing each other on the deck, amorously I suspect, and they might be the broken clay pot culprits. I cleaned the mess and now have dirt under my nails.

I like Sundays, and though they are no longer the same quiet Sundays of my childhood, they do seem more subdued than any other day of the week. The kids aren’t playing in the street and even the dogs are quiet. I remember Sunday dinner as my favorite meal of the week, and I remember all of us eating together at the table. That was unusual as my Dad worked long hours and generally came home late, after we’d already eaten. He was a salesman who worked back then for J. P. Manning Co, a huge tobacco wholesaler in Boston which, among other things, sold cigars and cigarette vending machines. Once I went with my Dad to his office in Boston, but I stayed in the car. All I remember is seeing the name J. P. Manning across the top of a window.

Every dinner on Sunday had a roast as the center piece, mashed potatoes, gravy and a vegetable or two: green beans, peas, yellow waxed beans or string beans, all from cans. My mother bought her set of Sunday dishes from the supermarket, a dish a week. She also bought the accompanying dishes including a gravy boat, a vegetable server which held two vegetables and a platter for the cut slices of meat. The dishes were off-white with what looked like wheat on them as a decoration and were made of melmac. Though the dishes lasted forever, they started to fade over time and were relegated to being every day dishes.

When my mother started serving Sunday dinner on real dishes, it was cause for celebration. My mother was acknowledging we were growing up and could now be trusted with breakable dishes.

“Baseball is an allegorical play about America, a poetic, complex, and subtle play of courage, fear, good luck, mistakes, patience about fate, and sober self-esteem.”

April 6, 2015

A howling wind, falling snow or icy sleet battering the house and yard wouldn’t matter. Today would still be spring. Today the Red Sox play their first game of the season. I dream about today on the worst winter days when I need dreams the most. On the coldest of days I let baseball give me hope. I see in my mind’s eye the Green Monster and the fresh grass of Fenway. I think about cheering for the home team, eating hot dogs and popcorn, watching games on warm summer nights and throwing my arms into the air as I scream at a home run or moan at an error. The Sox have stumbled of late. Two out of the last three seasons my Sox were in last place. In the middle of those two seasons they won the World Series. Today they are perfect.

Sometimes Easter was at the start of spring vacation while other years, like this one, Easter was early and Monday was back to school. That was always the worst of Mondays. Our energy had been spent over the three-day weekend. By Sunday night we were exhausted from the excitement of wearing new clothes, finding our baskets filled with chocolate and small gifts and spending all afternoon with the cousins. Getting up, eating breakfast, putting on our uniforms and then walking to school were arduous tasks. It was a day of lethargy when turning the pages of a text-book took far too much energy. The classroom was unusually quiet. No rustling sounds broke the silence. The only signs of Easter were the jelly beans, the big ones where every color tasted the same, wrapped in wax paper in our lunch boxes. We’d finish our sandwiches then put the jelly beans in our coat pockets to eat outside during recess. I remember they all had a bit of lint from my pocket. I didn’t care.

Easter was the best. Dinner was spectacular. We were given the same table by the window we’ve had for three years in a row. Our blinking bunny, from an Easter basket three years ago, joined us for his third time at the table. That he still blinks we find amazing. Outside the window the view was beautiful. The sky and the ocean were different blues. The water, the deepest of blues, had a greenish tint while the sky was light blue along the horizon and darker blue above. Small white caps tapped the shoreline. The beach grass was brown, its winter color. We toasted the day and sat for a bit savoring the moment before ordering dinner. My drink had blackberries. It was delicious. I had lamb, mashed potatoes and onions infused with soy sauce. Little was left on my plate at the end of dinner, but I managed to squeeze in a chocolate dessert, the perfect ending for the best Easter ever until next year’s.