How I Learned to Cook

Dear Friends,

November is our menu planning month. We have been getting a head start on our menu planning. If we plan our meals then we can save money and time. We can even double our recipes and freeze the extra for meals to use in December. Plan and save.

Do you have meals or just a recipe that you make that brings back memories for you? When I was 11 years old, my father taught me how to make spaghetti with a meat sauce from scratch. This one meal taught me how to brown hamburger meat, chop onions, green peppers and boil water for pasta. What else do you need to cook? It was a lesson that served me well.

After I married, my in-laws taught me to make other basics for meals. My sweet Mother-in-law Elizabeth, started planning each meal around the starch on the plate. She could fix potatoes a million ways. One of her favorite ways to cook potatoes was country fried potatoes.

How many ways can you think of to fix potatoes? Ready, set, go! Most of these Robert and I came up with on our own. We did cheat and Google it. I found one potato dish I had made but didn’t know the name.

  1. Baked potatoes
  2. Mashed potatoes
  3. Boiled potatoes
  4. French fries
  5. Oven wedge fries
  6. Hash browns
  7. Country fried potatoes
  8. Potato salad
  9. Twice baked potatoes
  10. Smashed potatoes
  11. German potato salad
  12. Potato soup
  13. Au gratin potatoes
  14. Scalloped potatoes
  15. Criss-crossed potatoes
  16. Home fries
  17. Potato skins stuffed
  18. Potato pancakes/Latkes
  19. Hasselback potatoes

I love how you can divide these into three groups according to how they are cooked.

  1. Baked in the oven
  2. Fried in a skillet
  3. Boiled in a sauce pan

Many of the types of potatoes can be made from leftover baked potatoes. Did you know that you can use your slow cooker to make baked potatoes? This will keep your kitchen from heating up in the summer.

There are two type of potatoes; red and white.

White potatoes are flaky. The texture is exactly what you need for baked potatoes and mashed potatoes. Red potatoes are good for potato salads because they stay firm. They also work well for hash browns and country fried potatoes.

The secret to fluffy mashed potatoes is not to over process them. I have a gadget that makes the best mashed potatoes ever. It is called a ricer. You probably have one in your utensil drawer. A friend gave the ricer when she was moving. I never dreamed I would love it so much.

To make my heart attack mashed potatoes; I boil five pounds of medium sized round white potatoes. I like to boil them unpeeled. After about an hour of boiling, you can easily peel them without wasting so much of the potato. I allow the potatoes to cool. If you put them in cold water the skins will come off fast. Then I put them through my ricer. I make this recipe for Thanksgiving Dinner once a year.

The reason I call them Heart Attack Mashed Potatoes is because they real butter, cream, cream cheese, and sour cream. So that I am not in a hurry on Thanksgiving Day; I make them a few days ahead of time and freeze them. They freeze well because they have all the dairy in them. I put them in a high sided casserole dish and put grated Parmesan cheese on top. You could put them into smaller dishes or freezer bags so you could have mashed potatoes whenever you wanted them.

I love leftover mashed potatoes. You can make lots of things with them; potato soup, potato pancakes, topping for shepherd’s pie, and twice baked potatoes. They can be stretched a long way too.

Now if you have potatoes that are beginning to sprout, don’t throw them away; cut them into pieces with an eye on them and plant them in a pot. It won’t be long till you will have your own new potatoes with very little work. There is nothing better than little new potatoes in a pot of fresh green beans.

Enjoy building your meals around a simple potato.


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