embracing the in-between {and the only mashed potatoes}

john and i were talking about this the other day, how we feel like we're going through this "in-between phase" of life, not fearlessly young anymore but not quite old either. not quite an adult that can go weeks without consulting a parent for advice or ask how to get an old oil stain out of your favorite shirt, but far from being a college kid either. the best way i can describe this phase is, it feels like you’re a trained soccer player just waiting for the big game…. only i fear that once i’m out on the field i’ll have no idea what i’m doing. i pertain this “wanting to play the big game" to wanting to be a parent, or wanting to host a thanksgiving dinner on my own but alas, such realities are not mine yet, because when you live around so many extended family members, (and you're kidless and our age) the holidays are not a time to be alone, but a time to crowd together, whether you like it or not.

after (almost) five years of marriage, you’d think that we would have gotten the hang of the holiday thing by now, but things still remain quite varied. a part of me wonders if having kids will mellow out the inconsistency, having an excuse to create new little traditions for my own little family, rather than go to a crazy big gathering, but alas, like i said, we’re still “in-between” and this in-between means you go where you’re loved.

i love and adore my extended family but we are anything but quiet or calm. around us it's loud, and there’s running and crying and laughing and things that break. dinner is served buffet style and there is either way too much food or not enough and a million different conversations happening at the table at once.  it almost reminds me of the family on the movie home alone? you know that part where they're rushing to get ready for the airport? except multiply that 3 times, throw way more kids into the mix, add 2 turkeys and 3 pumpkin pies and some bad manners, and that’s my family. 

that being said, the family is mine, and i love them, and it’s a privilege to be a part of such a large group when we do genuinely enjoy each others company and together i feel like we are this force for good; people who love fully and are very smart, talk about their latest crazy experiences but most of all, people who love to eat, and for that, i am grateful. whatever this holiday (or week) brings you, i hope you go where you are loved. happy thanksgiving my friends. i am, even though it sounds so cheesily said, so grateful for you. xo  

in the process of being mashed...

in the process of being mashed...

the only mashed potatoes 

serves 6 generously, 8 reasonably  

my family adores these mashed potatoes and in my humble opinion they're perfect because they're so imperfect.... therefore resembling my family and perhaps yours. i hope you share them with your family too and love them in all their weirdness. xo

note: my theory on mashed potatoes is that we play with them too much. we get all excited at the fact that we're just mushing something all together with butter and other luscious goods that we mash and mash getting out some aggression the same way a boxer would on a punching bag. potatoes should be treated gently, as should the ingredients being added to them to turn those tots into superstars. the trick for really fluffy potatoes is rid the little spuds of their starch and extra water. i reveal my methods below.

note:  heat your serving dish for your potatoes in the oven at 200°F / 110° C while you prep the dish. that way your mashed potatoes will stay nice and warm when you're ready to serve.

4 lbs / 1.8kg organic yukon gold potatoes, cut into cubes, all relatively the same size

2 tablespoons of salt - used for your boiling water only

8 ounces / 225g of organic cream cheese, softened slightly

½ cup / 113g (one stick // 8 tablespoons) unsalted organic butter, cut into cubes 

kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

the potato prep:

i don't peel my potatoes. you certainly can if you like, but i love the texture and health benefits of the skin and the time it saves me not to peel. no one thus far has complained.

cut the potatoes in pieces all relatively the same size. rinse pieces in luke warm water 3 times. 

in a large pot, cover all the rinsed potato pieces in cold water and 2 tablespoons of salt.  

bring to a boil. 

once the water reaches a boil, bring it down to a simmer (medium heat). Let the potatoes simmer until fork soft, about 20 - 30 minutes. You'll know when the potatoes are ready because they are pleasantly edible without the slightest hint of crunch. 

strain potatoes. jump them up and down in your strainer to rid of any excess water. just do it.

dump potato pieces back into large pot on low heat, without a lid. let the potatoes steam for 5 - 10 minutes. they're probably falling apart. that's okay.

add blobs of cream cheese and butter - let ingredients melt into the potatoes as you gently mash them together. add salt and pepper to taste. be careful not to over mash, we want all the ingredients blended in - but too much mashing causes gummy potatoes. gummy isn't invited to this party. 

serve potatoes in prepared dish with a few slabs of butter on top. 

watch them melt and your guests go cray. 

why is this good for me? 

i feel like potatoes have a bad reputation because they're most commonly processed, sliced and fried giving us the all too familiar american french-fry - but that being said, whole organic potatoes do have some healing properties. (however, not much of these healing properties are left once the skin is removed.) potatoes are a neutral, anti-inflammatory food. they have been known to reduce stomach acidity, reduce arthritis inflammation and lower blood pressure. they also contain tryptophan, an amino acid containing natural sedative properties - so to me, it's not wonder we crave warm mashed potatoes when it's cold outside and then need a nap. ;)