Saturday, December 5, 2009

Thanks for Giving

Oh, the holiday season is upon us once again! For my mom and I that means a lot of traveling, cooking, entertaining, and party planning. We just returned to Montana after a three week pilgrimage to Illinois. Back to our roots. What that really means for us is a lot of sleeping around. Sleeping on floors, couches, sometimes if we are lucky even a bed here and there. We definitely love all aspects of traveling, entertaining, and being with friends, but we also love when others give a little. We don’t care what they give us. It could be diamonds, jewelry, money, or just their time and attention. We aren’t really picky.

This year, on the way to making our famous multigenerational mashed potatoes and gravy for Thanksgiving dinner, we found ourselves in a pickle. In order to successfully execute mashed potatoes one of the key gizmos is the hand held mixer. Now, I am an out of town guest and cooking in my grandpa's kitchen. My grandpa and I are extremely close and I have cooked for him many times, but I haven’t been in his house for over 6 months. He is 87, pretty much blind, stubborn as a mule, and complete pack rat. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love him completely, however, locating things in his house can be something of a quagmire. I easily located the machine itself; however the beaters were not in the same location. Of course not, that would make too much sense. A sense of dread washes over me. I feel like I could use a road map at this point and am completely perplexed and more than a little terrified. Each of my grandpa’s cabinets and closets is somewhat of a prehistoric museum overflowing with dinosaur Electrolux vacuums, record players, and dusty tattered dresses from the Stone Age. So, it is relatively easy for me to fall into the black abyss and never find my way out of these closets. Never the less, I begin preparing my body armor to dive in head first. I give my cousins, Aaron and Kerry, the instructions that if I fail to return in 5 minutes, call the fire department to rescue me from the "black hole".

However, instead of sitting idly by, both of my cousins ask me what I am looking for. As I rummage around through kitchen drawers and closets, I tell them over my shoulder that I am looking for the beaters. I have the mixer, but I can’t beat anything without the beaters. Kerry and Aaron, being the brave cousins that they are, dive in to help. They start looking through other kitchen drawers. Then, a light bulb goes off in Kerry's head as if he suddenly remembers whose house he is in. He declares loudly in a one moment of clarity, "Who are we kidding, we are at Grandpa's. Check the cabinets and the bedrooms." He is so serious, that I can only laugh hysterically in response. Here we are looking for beaters and we are both pretty sure they might me in my grandpa's underwear drawer. Aaron has already caught on to what I think is so funny and the two of us are bent over laughing. Kerry glances over at us to see what we are laughing about and I lock eyes with him and say, "Yes, we better check the underwear drawer," and he begins chucking too. We don’t get much farther and my mom comes in while we are laughing. She wants to know what is so funny. I tell her that we can’t find the beaters. My mother, the Goddess of search and rescue, walks over to the only drawer that we hadn't rooted through and pulls out the beaters. Of course. Why is it that mom's always know where everything is; even if it isn't their house? Most likely because moms know everything.

Well the mash potatoes were prepared to perfection and the meal was a giant success. I shared a simple and hilarious moment with my cousins all because we couldn't find the beaters. So, I want to thank my cousins for giving me a great laugh when I wanted it most. I want to thank my grandpa for giving the beaters the perfect hiding place. I also want to thank my mom for giving us the road map to the perfectly beaten mashed potatoes and knowing everything; especially how to perform a proper search and rescue mission.

Additionally, my mom and I want to thank our Illinois friends and family for giving their time, energy, love, support, and most of all giving us warm places to sleep and kitchens to cook in while we were on our 3 week whirlwind through Illinois. As reciprocation, we are giving you all our multigenerational mashed potatoes and gravy recipe! Enjoy your own search and rescue missions this holiday! And remember a perfect meal is only a beat away!

Multigenerational Mashed Potatoes

8 large Idaho potatoes peeled and chopped
1 rutabaga peeled and chopped
1/2 cup low fat sour cream
1/4 cup fat free half and half
1/4 butter
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1/4 cup fresh chives diced (if desired)
salt and pepper to taste

Place chopped potatoes and rutabaga into a large pot and cover with warm water. Heat potatoes and rutabaga on the stove on high until water bubbles, then turn the flame to medium and allow to simmer for 20-25 minutes. When the potatoes and rutabaga are completely cooked you will be able to break a peice of potatoe easily with a fork. Once the potatoes and rutabaga are softened, drain the water leaving the potatoes and rutabaga in the pot. This is where you will need your mixer. Pour the remaining ingredients into the pot with the potatoes and rutabaga and using a hand held mixer begin to mash the potatoes with the sour cream, half and half, butter, and garlic powder. Add salt and pepper to taste. Additional half and half or sour cream can be added if needed to reach the desired consistency. Chives can be sprinkled over the top of the potatoes for added flair if desired.

Groovy Gravy

4 cups reserved turkey broth*
1/2 cup butter
4 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1 spring fresh rosemary chopped
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons soy sauce

Melt the butter in a sauce pan and gradually add the flour while wisking to avoid lumps from forming. Once all the flour has been added and the flour is carmel color add the sage, thyme, and rosemary. Allow to cook for 1 minute just to allow the flavors to marry. Then add the turkey broth one cup at a time continuing to wisk with each additional cup of turkey broth. Once all 4 cups have been added, mix in the 2 teaspoons of soy sauce. The soy sauce will add the desired salt as well as create a rich carmelly color. It will also keep your guests guessing about your "secret ingredient".

*If you are lacking in turkey broth. Store bought chicken stock can be used instead. To create that magic flavor, we simmer the chicken stock with rosemary, sage, and thyme for an hour and this creates that slow cooked flavor.

Mental Health Tip: This is the ultimate comfort food and also is packed with potassium. So enjoy without guilt and go ahead and dive in to the gravy head first. We won't tell!

Thanks for Giving,
"Too Lovely" Hot Messes in the Kitchen

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