A Different Kind of Mashed Potatoes

December 12, 2011

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I have to apologize up front for the lack of lighthearted posts around here. During this time of year I’m usually singing Dolly Parton Christmas songs and looking for inconspicuous places to hang mistletoe. (Surprise! Now you have to kiss me!)

With my aunt in the hospital over the last few weeks, and with her passing late last week, I’m all out of sorts. I didn’t know quite what to say for a while – but now I know that what I want to say has to do with mashed potatoes.

It’s not that I don’t think you already know how to make mashed potatoes – I’m sure you’ve got a few tricks up your sleeve. It’s that there’s a very specific way she made them and I think … I hope … that somewhere around your holiday table, you’ve got room.

First of all, you submerge the potatoes in cold water, salt them, and then bring them to a boil. Boil them until they’re overly cooked. And by that I mean, when you pierce them with a fork, they should fall apart. Then you add the magic.

Cream cheese. Sour cream. Two of our friends that we often don’t think about when we’re whipping boiled potatoes. But Aunt Jo always did. Every holiday season I’d look up from the table and there she’d be … double palming a tray of the creamiest potatoes I ever had.

Like most of the characters on my mom’s side of the family, she saw things in black and white. She could stonewall you and keep you out. Or she could wrap her arms around you and bring you home. Whatever she did, it was always genuine … never about pretense.

Like her mashed potatoes, she was simple and straightforward. Edged in just the slightest bit of complexity.

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Aunt Jo’s Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients:

13 potatoes
1 cup sour cream
2 8 ounce cream cheese packages
1 stick of butter, melted
Salt and pepper, to taste

Procedure:

Peel the potatoes and cut them into quarters. Place them in a large pot and cover with cold water. Salt generously. Bring the potatoes to a boil. When very tender, drain and mash the potatoes. Add the rest of the ingredients. Spray a 9 x 13 casserole pan and spread with potatoes. Cool and refrigerate or bake for 45 to 60 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven. Cover with foil lightly. [Can be made 1 day in advance.]

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Jen Garvic via Facebook December 13, 2011 at 8:36 am

I’m sorry for your loss.

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Jen Garvic via Facebook December 13, 2011 at 8:36 am

I’m sorry for your loss.

Reply

Susan December 13, 2011 at 9:30 am

Courtney – my condolences to you, your mom and your family on the loss of your aunt. You are a good niece to share her dish. I make mine very similarly and it is a fabulous dish. (Not bragging, just agreeing that hers have to be good!)

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Courtney December 13, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Thank you Susan! I’m so glad to hear you’ve indulged the same way. I love how simple they are – these are the kind of recipes I love writing about.

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5chw4r7z December 13, 2011 at 9:39 am

Courtney, I’m sorry for your loss.

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Kelly Pennington December 13, 2011 at 10:37 am

Courtney, So sorry about your aunt. Thanks for sharing her dish. It’s amazing how the kitchen hold so many memories in every family.

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steph December 13, 2011 at 11:12 am

What fun and love (and tribute to your aunt). Sorry to hear about your family’s loss, but how wonderful that you can add some of your aunt’s magic here for everyone. Best part? My dad has always made his mashies the exact same way. I was always like, where’s the milk? Nope. Not for this one… food kinship at its finest. Cheers!

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Courtney December 13, 2011 at 4:32 pm

I just love that you said mashies. Cheers to the very best way to make them!

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lauren December 14, 2011 at 8:59 pm

love you. and mashed potatoes. but you win.

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