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hands, hearts, belly

Recipe: mashed potatoes

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The weather turned rainy, cold, and windy over the weekend. Occasionally, when the clouds lift, I spy snow in the distance. I’m anxious for the snow. To be honest, I’m anxious to finish out my travels this season and be in one place for more than a week or two at a time. I was reminded of that this past Friday when I attended a get together that was looong overdue. Our stitch-n-bitch crew has been so ridiculously busy that it’s the first time we assembled in one place in several months. (I’m totally one of the guilty parties.) It was a very special SNB and we didn’t even think to bring any knitting or crafts projects.

whenever manisha hosts, she makes exquisite food

and we devour it

After the initial feast, we all settled into Manisha’s living room where our hostess explained an Indian ritual for the expectant mother. In this case, we were celebrating our dear Nichole and her baby bump! We each took turns, administering tumeric, a red powder (I don’t recall what it was or if it was edible), and rice to Nichole’s forehead. We offered a coconut and a little nut in a cloth, sprinkled rice on her head, and fed her something sweet. I was running on fumes by Friday afternoon – the week had been insanely hectic – so I wasn’t able to catch the significance of each act while I was shooting. But it was fun as well as incredibly touching as the gals, one by one, offered their heartfelt blessings to Nichole and her baby.

manisha explains the coconut to all of the noobs

erin places tumeric on nichole’s forehead

ali sprinkles rice

she glows

But the party didn’t end there. No no, it was just getting started! Manisha hired two of her girlfriends to come and do henna tattoos. There was a lot of gossiping and bonding and laughing and snacking and admiring of one another’s tattoos as we migrated from the guest room floor (where we were getting tattooed) to the living room to the kitchen and back again. It was a beautiful time and the smell of eucalyptus oil permeated the guest room. Despite my exhaustion as the evening wore on, I felt that I was in a good place. I was with beloved friends celebrating a soon-to-be significant moment in Nichole’s life. We watched smiling, joking, giggling, admiring as Nichole’s belly tattoo blossomed into a work of art. She was beaming.

it started in the center

so lovely

erin’s cool design

end of the night: all in (missing 3 of our gals who had to leave early)

This was my first tattoo if you don’t count the four blue dots I have on my chest from my radiation treatments. This one is far prettier and definitely more special. It isn’t permanent, but I think I’d like it to last as long as possible – maybe 2-3 weeks depending on how well I take care of it. At first I would see my hand out of the corner of my eye and it would startle me, but I’m getting used to it. So don’t be startled if you see a tattooed hand in some of the recipes in the coming months!

my favorite potato in the world: yukon golds

With the change in the weather, I decided to whip up some comfort food this weekend – mashed potatoes. I didn’t even think to blog it these many years, but it’s certainly something worth sharing. Mashed potatoes can be prepared in a variety of ways, but my favorite is akin to Fat with Mashed Potatoes, if you get my meaning. But of course you do! This isn’t called use real butter for nothing, kids.

scrubbing the potatoes clean

boil in a big pot of water

Back in the day, when I was just getting my cooking legs, I would peel, dice, and boil my potatoes. Then I’d mash them up and stir in some potato water, a little milk, a little butter, some salt and pepper. Mashed potatoes. I think those potatoes are really boring. Truly. At some point I added garlic and those were a little more interesting. Fast forward to today and I like my potatoes chunky, fluffy, with skins. No water. Just salt, pepper, butter and cream. Double whammy on the OMGOODNESS! It’s truly goodness this way. Have a looksee.

mash the potatoes

yes, add butter, damnit!

Boiling the potatoes whole allows the potato to get nice and fluffy without the soggy. This way you aren’t diluting any of the golden goodness. In my opinion, the best potato for mashed potatoes is the Yukon Gold. I sing its praises daily. Get organic if you can. Yes, I can taste the difference. I’m sure other potatoes can be substituted, but I just don’t know why you would if you can get your hands on some Yukon Golds. I also like my mashies skin on and lumpy. If you don’t like the idea of using cream, you can use half and half or milk instead. I figure, if there is going to be ingestion of dairy, it may as well be the good stuff. Just add enough to achieve your desired consistency. I like mashed potatoes to be thick and dense – the kind that hurts if someone slings it in your face. Not to mention, if I liked my potatoes on the soupy side, that would be a HUGE amount of cream.

pour in cream (or one of its various underlings)

season with salt and pepper

These potatoes last a long time because they are really filling. It must be because of all that… potato ;) I love serving a few slices of rare steak on a bed of these mashies. I haven’t conjured the guts to serve them with chicken-fried steak – another must have with potatoes. It’s just that I like to still be breathing at the end of a meal.

well, that’s my food baby right there

Mashed Potatoes
[print recipe]

3 lbs. yukon gold potatoes (organic is preferable)
4-6 tbsps unsalted butter, cut into 1-tbsp pieces
1/4 – 1/2 cup cream, half and half, or milk (your choice… guess which one tastes better)
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Set a large pot of water on the stove over high heat. Scrub the potatoes clean unless you plan to remove the skins (I leave the skins on). When the water in the pot comes to a boil, add the potatoes, whole, to the pot. Let the water return to a boil and monitor to make sure it doesn’t boil over. Cook the potatoes for 20-25 minutes. Poke with a fork to make sure the largest potato is soft in the middle. When the potatoes are done, remove them from the pot (you could drain them, but we like to let our water cool and then water our yard with it). If you like watery potatoes (I do not), you can reserve some of the water to thin the potatoes. Place the potatoes in a large, wide bowl and mash them with your potato masher. While they are still hot, mash in the butter until it is melted. Stir in cream or half and half or milk until the potatoes have reached your desired consistency. I tend to like my mashed potatoes pretty thick and chunky. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

30 nibbles at “hands, hearts, belly”

  1. Ruth Ann says:

    I (of course) love the pictures of your friend’s belly with the henna mendhi. Beautiful and it is a great idea for you all to remember that celebration for the next few weeks while the henna is still on your hands.
    Ohhh, those mashed potatoes look so yummy. True comfort food. I made a gratin dauphinois tonight but I was thinking about mashed potatoes in my future too.

  2. Wei-Wei says:

    The photos of the henna look amazing – it must have been really something to be a part of such a special event. And that’s a beautiful belly :]

    Wouldn’t cooking the potatoes whole result in pebbly bits of unevenly cooked potato? Oh, and have you ever thought of using a potato ricer? Apparently it makes suuuuuper smooth silky mashed potatoes.

  3. Belinda @zomppa says:

    What a fun crew you have (one that certainly knows how to eat!) Blessings to Nichole and the little one inside!

  4. LimeCake says:

    I’m a rice girl but there’s also something comforting about mashed potatoes. Yukon golds are my favourite too! When you wrote “food baby” for that last picture, I swear I thought I saw “baby food”. But I guess it works both ways, right?

  5. Kristin says:

    Maybe Manisha will post about the details? The henna’d parts are beautiful, & the potatoes…well, I was going to make a gratin tonight, but now it’s up in the air!

  6. Caitlin says:

    Yukon Golds are the only way to go, definitely. They make killer hash browns too. And have I mentioned that my ultimate favorite food growing up was mashed potatoes? I was the family taste tester – told my dad if they needed more milk, butter, salt or pepper :P

    What a cool ceremony to have to celebrate a baby bump – it sounds way better than some of the baby shower “games” I sometimes hear about!

  7. Nicole says:

    Mash looks nice! If you want your henna to last longer, you should rub Vicks Vapo-rub (or something similar, like eucalyptus oil) into it once it is dry.

  8. Kath says:

    We still have some Yukon golds to harvest in our garden. I’ll have to try your mashed potatoes with them. (And by the way, if you think organic Yukon golds are good, you should try “just dug from the ground” organic Yukon golds. Who would have thought that homegrown would make a difference with potatoes, but it really does!)

  9. TheKitchenWitch says:

    Love the mendhi! I’ve had it done for weddings, but never in celebration of a baby. I love the way her bump looks!

    Mashed potatoes are my comfort food–how can you not feel better after curling up with a bowl of these?

  10. claire says:

    wow! that is so cool- Love her cute baby bump all festive!

    as soon as I saw the name of your blog, I had a feeling I would like your recipes! Yum!

  11. JelliDonut says:

    Fantastic photos. And I agree about the Yukons–my favorite potato!

  12. Susan @jeanne_samary says:

    Lovely post, Jen.

    I love the idea of a SNB club :)
    It’s so important to nourish and maintain your friendships during one’s lifetime.
    The henna mendhi/ceremony was a beautiful way to celebrate your friend, Nichole.

    Yukon gold potatoes are my favorites when it comes to mashed potatoes.
    Butter and cream are a must :)

    Best wishes!

  13. M @ Betty Crapper says:

    That belly tattoo is beautiful. She’s a lucky mommy to be to be blessed with such wonderful friends.

  14. Sil says:

    Jen, what a lovely post.

    What a great group of women and what a fantastic “excuse” for a get together! Best wishes for the mom and her baby.

    You make mashed potatos just like my dad. And his “puré de papas” (mashed potatos) are the best of the best.



  15. Asha@FSK says:

    Seemantham!!! isn’t it a fun ceremony! Did you have a feast of different kinds of flavored rice??? Wait! perhaps Manisha isn’t South Indian??

    LOVE the mehendi!!! And the photo of Nichole’s!!!

  16. sale e pepe says:

    I LOVE the belly pictures!! That little baby will love hearing this story for years to come!

  17. Jane L says:

    This is such a cool baby shower, and the pictures were awesome. Your recipe is amazing for mashed potatoes, simple and to the point. I definitely will try your version with yukon gold… Thanks for the good idea and inspiration.

  18. Nicola says:

    I love mash with skins and all, and lashing of butter. However, in the summertime, to accompany a barbequed meal, I tang it up a bit by using thick Greek yoghurt instead of either milk or cream. Mash the spuds, add the butter, the seasonings, and then the Greek yoghurt. Use a large tined fork to whip the yoghurt into the mash. You get some smoothing, but some of it goes creamy and unctuous. Great with bbqed salmon, for instance.

    Love the henna designs.

  19. Nicola says:

    PS I use Nicola potatoes (yes, I know … egotistical!) because they are very golden and creamy tasting, but also the lowest GI potato obtainable; good for those of us with diabetes who can’t give up spuds.

  20. Ravenous Rowie says:

    Your henna designs look SO amazing! Oh, ha, the food looks good too!

  21. marla {family fresh cooking} says:

    Jen, that is such a lovely day you spent with friends! The henna tattoo’s are beautiful, especially the one that is on your friends belly. I can only imagine the giggles and stories that fly around the room of the SNB group! xo

  22. Margie says:

    Congratulations to Nicole! Jenzie, you have captured her beautifully; she really is glowing! That is a beautiful photo of her.

    Yukon gold…or yeah, dey bees da best for a mashed spud, or a baked side. I don’t mind that I have to pay a bit extra. They’re worth it.

  23. Bobbi says:

    Oh the picture of the henna hands and belly just gave me goosebumps! Love it:)

  24. Pei Lin says:

    I have never seen such pretty henna done before!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Lovely works of art!

    Ok, hubby does mashed potatoes better than me so I am sharing this recipe with him :)

    Take care Jen!

  25. Phoo-D says:

    The henna on her belly is so lovely! I should try that out myself. What a great way to feel beautiful at that stage of the pregnancy.

  26. noëlle {simmer down!} says:

    We were visiting the Denver/Boulder area for the weekend and our friends lamented that we had brought gloomy Michigan weather with us… Sorry! :) We did quite enjoy our first snow of the year, which we watched from the cozy confines of the Pioneer Inn in Nederland before driving back down to warmer climes in the city.

  27. pinky black says:

    i like the henna on the belly. the baby’s very first henna. you captured it really great!

    and also the step by step procedure in making your own style of mash potato. the picture says it all. i love mashed potatoes as side dish on my main course. black rice, some steak plus creamy mashed potatoes. healthy heavy meal.

  28. jenyu says:

    Thanks all for the sweet wishes for Nichole. It was such a lovely party and we are so excited to be aunties :)

    Wei-Wei – cooking the potatoes whole results in a far fluffier consistency – just let it cook all the way through.

    Kath – someday I hope to get around to planting potatoes in the ground (one of the few things we can grow up here)

    Susan – ha ha! It’s called SNB, but we rarely stitch (mostly bitch and eat and drink – ha ha ha!)

    Nicola – great idea! I love greek yogurt in my potatoes too. Tangy and creamy at the same time. Mmmm! Never heard of that kind before. Will have to try them out, thanks :)

    Phoo-D – are you PREGGERS?!?! :)

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