Mashed potatoes are my top comfort food. In fact, they’re like medicine. I occasionally suffer from headaches. When I’m recovering, the first food I want is mashed potatoes. When I’ve had a stomach bug, a cold, or I’m just plain worn out … mashed potatoes. When colder weather starts settling in … mashed potatoes. When it’s Wednesday … mashed potatoes. When I want variety … garlic smashed potatoes.Jump to Recipe
In the movie, Happy Texas, the character played by William Macy—a gay cop in a small Texas town who has fallen in love a man he thinks is a gay pageant planner but who is actually a straight bank robber who has fallen in love with an engaged woman who holds the keys to the local bank and who, believing him gay, has befriended him and has no idea he is either straight or a bank robber (imagine the pitch for this movie, if you will)—says, “Life is about finding out.” I agree, and so is marriage. My mashed potato thing was a mystery to my husband. I was mystified about his obsession with the flu.
When my husband doesn’t feel well, his self-diagnosis is always the flu. It’s not really the flu. In fact, most of the time, it’s not even true flu symptoms. He has an immune system of steel. He’s never had the flu so long as I’ve known him. I’ve had the flu, three of our four foster kids have had the flu—but never him.
His “flu” requires the treatment of Theraflu. Early in our marriage, I came to believe Theraflu was his solution for everything, similar to the way the father insisted Windex was the fix for everything in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I learned that when he says he needs Theraflu he does not really mean the actual brand “Theraflu” or even a generic equivalent. He means any medicine that treats or suppresses his symptoms.
I will never understand his “flu thing” but I came to accept how he approaches illness. He, in turn, came to understand the medicinal powers mashed potatoes hold for me. Now when I start recovering from a headache or other illness, he’ll make and serve me mashed potatoes. It’s just the sweetest thing … and so appreciated. And I will grab him whatever actual medicine is needed for his “flu” symptoms.
About Garlic Smashed Potatoes
The only difference between my basic mashed potato recipe and garlic smashed potatoes is mincing up some garlic and mixing it in. And I’ll let you in on a secret: I only use garden-fresh potatoes on special occasions or on a rare whim. Most of the time I use Idahoan brand dehydrated potatoes, bought in the bulk size. I’ve tried different brands, and this one is my favorite. It’s only slightly different in flavor and consistency than garden-fresh potatoes, and it’s super easy for my husband to make me mashed potatoes: I call that a win-win.
We’re on the road today, returning from a weekend in Florida, where we were visiting family on a last-minute whim. I needed to make mashed potatoes for this post and had planned to ask my Mom about it when we arrived. But when I got there, she had some potatoes out because she had planned to make some. Ta da! Mom, a niece, and I made a batch using Russets. Three generations of mashed potato makers talking smashed potatoes. Mom uses Russets. Niece adds in a little mayo like her momma. I prefer golden potatoes and real cream and butter.
You can vary ingredients for fun and to meet nutritional requirements. Feeling adventurous? Try a purple potato! Need to lower fat or cholesterol? Substitute butter with a margarine or oil and replace half & half with anything from whole to skim milk—even reconstituted dry nonfat milk works. Don’t eat dairy? Use plain (not vanilla) soy milk or just use water. If you need to lower sodium use a salt substitute or omit it. You can flavor with chives or other herbs instead.
Good Food is Good Medicine
Did you know that Native Americans viewed food as medicine? The cliche “you are what you eat” takes on new meaning when you think of food that way. Moreover, it’s true that the food we put into our body impacts our health, both short and long term. Do you have a food that has medicinal powers for you? Share in the comments!
“Nothing like mashed potatoes when you’re feeling blue. Nothing like getting into bed with a bowl of hot mashed potatoes already loaded with butter, and methodically adding a thin, cold slice of butter to every forkful.”Nora Ephron
Garlic Smashed Potatoes
- stand or hand mixer
- 6 medium potatoes my favorite choice is Yukon gold or similar yellow potato
- ½ tsp coarse ground sea salt
- ¼ ground black pepper
- 2 medium cloves garlic minced
- 3 TBSP butter
- 1 oz about 2 TBSP half and half
- Scrub potatoes until clean. Remove any eyes or brown spots. Chop into 2- to 3-inch chunks.
- Place in stock pot and cover with water to about an inch or so above the potatoes. Bring to boil and cook until all potatoes are soft to touch.
- Drain cooked potatoes in colander and place into large mixing bowl.
- Add salt, pepper, garlic, butter and half & half.
- Blend on medium, occasionally scraping sides until potatoes attain a slightly whipped consistency.
- Serve or refrigerate.