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Did you ever eat white paste when you were in kindergarten or first grade?   Suuuure you did!  Maybe that's why so many people eat instant mashed potatoes.   In my kitchen, they have their place-- for thickening, coating and for a serious emergency.  Otherwise, actual real potatoes are fast, probably more nutritious, economical, and a lot more tasty.  This creamy dish goes so well with eggs or meats, plus helps small children eat things that want to escape, like peas, lima beans and whole kernel corn.  Here's some hints to make mashed 'taters better and faster.

Best Mashed Potatoes
  • Put water on to boil while you peel the potatoes.  If you're in a terrible rush, start with hot water from the faucet.  Add a dollop, squirt or small glug of vegetable oil; it keeps them from foaming and boiling over and makes cleanup easier.   Salt water very lightly if at all.  Cover to heat water faster.
  • Peel potatoes thinly, with a peeler.  The modern peeler came into common use during World War II as a way to conserve food, and it works.  I like Tupperware«'s great peeler.    Remove any gray spots; they may be carcinogenic (cancer-causing) fungus.   Likewise any green just under the peel; it's mildly poisonous.  Cut into 1" to 1-1/4" cubes for quicker, more even cooking.   Put all the cubes at once into the boiling or nearly boiling water.
  • Bring to a full boil, then turn down to medium.  When tender, in perhaps 10 minutes, drain well in a colander.   To retain heat, if you aren't going to mash them that very second, place colander on top of the cooking pan to finish draining, and place pan lid on top the colander to help keep in the warmth.  If it will have to set a few minutes, place a paper towel in between the lid and the potatoes, to absorb condensation.
  • Mash potatoes with your electric beater.  Use slow speed until well chopped up.   Add butter, or lite margarine if you wish to save a little calories and fat.   Heat a little milk to the boiling point in a mug in the microwave and add to potatoes.  For richer flavor, especially if you are cutting back on the butter, use evaporated milk, whole or fat free.  (Freeze the rest in an ice cube tray for later use.)   Some people like to add chicken broth instead of milk, or even half-and-half or cream for the non-dieters.  Salt to taste.  Then whip up nicely on high speed.
  • If you've added too much milk and potatoes are a bit runny, no problema!  Add a little instant potato flake until they reach the consistency you want.  If you've oversalted, add more potato flakes and a little more warmed milk until the error is corrected.   Nobody will know.
  • Mashed potatoes are best served hot, except to very small children who are sure to blister their mouths or fingers in their enthusiasm.  If the mash has cooled down, put the bowl (not plastic or metal, please!) into the microwave for one minute at a time until piping hot, stirring once in a while.
  • A dust of black pepper makes a nice garnish, as does a parsley sprig or three or a pat of melting butter in the middle of the dish.
  • Don't toss leftovers.   Microwave for another meal, or beat in an egg or two, some finely chopped onion and a tablespoon or so of flour (self-rising is best) for potato pancakes in the morning.

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