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No Turkey For You

This is the first Thanksgiving I won't be home to inhale on my Aunt Jeanne's wicked awesome mashed potatoes.  Josh The Pilot is so low on the vacation totem pole that he'll be home for Christmas sometime around 2020, and the even worse news is that this means he'll be subjected to my own mashed potatoes, which, after a year of struggling to master the art and yielding only lumpy masses of potato and milk, are  powder-based bowls of capitulation.

It's also a missed opportunity to further corrupt my nephews, and now is the time to start in on Will The Smaller Child Nephew, who, at the age of two, stands at the crux of babyhood and potty training.  His vocabulary is growing daily, a development I must oversee if he is to take over the world one spelling bee at a time.

When I was in Cincinnati this summer, I arrived at the home of Julie The Nephews Mama before he awoke for the day, and we knew he was up the instant he we heard his first "What happened?" of the day over the baby monitor.  What happened, what happened, what happened has now progressed to the point where this week he climbed into his booster seat at the family table upon discovering that his high chair had mysteriously vanished, then turned to his big brother and announced, "James!  Big boy seat!"

For all this, he has yet, however, to refer to his mother by her proper title.

We were sitting in my mother's living room last month when Will made his stiff-legged way towards Mommy.  "Julie," he said in passing.

Everybody froze.  I held a toy car midair; Josh The Pilot stared at him, and even Jim The Small Child Nephew paused in his perpetual insistence that Lighting McQueen is, in fact, speed.

"Yes, you heard that," his mother said wearily.  "Mommy's purse, Mommy's car, Mommy's shoes... Julie."

Well, at least it's a step up from "Cow."

aunt hefer at:  mbe@drinktothelasses.com

tip the bartender

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Reader Comments (13)

My honey doesn't get vacation time this year either, which stinks because we won't get much time together over the holidays because of all the family events we're supposed to attend.

But because he doesn't have time off, that means we can't fly out to see the in-laws! Oh, I mean...Darn.

November 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLady

Are you sure your nephew is not Dane? In Denmark, children refer to their parents by their first name. They are communist atheists, you know ;-)

November 6, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterred pill junkie

Mike's Secret To Bachelor Cooking Without Making It Look Like Bachelor Cooking #147:

Make a mashed potato, i.e. just one potato. But don't skin it. Dump it in with the powder-based mix. If you do it right, you'll have those nice sections of skin that make it look like you mashed a whole heap of taters, but still have the great-looking texture of the powder.

November 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterINCITEmarsh

I did day care from my home for several years when my two middle daughters were little. Often, of course, moms bemoan the calling of the babysitter "Mom" by the daycare children. I however, had to deal with being called by my own name by my own children. I am happy to report he'll get over it.

PS Heat and eat mashed potatoes available in your freezer section now :)

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterstarnarcosis

We went through many years of this while my husband worked a Thurs-Sun schedule - and those were the years when Christmas wasn't on Mon, Tues, or Wed. Of course, Thanksgiving's always on Thursday. Glad those days are over. The bright side - it's was a WHOLE lot easier to declare "We are NOT bringing our babies, all their gear, and ourselves several hours down the road to the un-baby-proofed side of the world just to spend a few days protecting your fragile stuff that you didn't put up high, trying to entertain the kids when their fave train set/doll house was just TOO much to drag along, and getting thoroughly off schedule" when someone has to work. While I appreciate the Mon-Fri schedule, normal holidays, and the extra boost on the totem pole, I still see the benefits of being the low man. Here's hoping you find your greener grass - or a Dream Dinners near you to set you up with a delicious Thanksgiving dinner.

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnother Southerner

The key to non-lumpy mashed potatoes is to make sure the potatoes are cooked enough. When you can stab a piece with a fork and it slides right back off when you pick the fork up, its ready for the mashing. And use a mixer instead of the masher utencil thing. Works way better.

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjcat2323

I'm sorry, but Mike's idea of leaving the skin in mashed potatoes sounds gross. Go with JCAT's tip instead.

My trick is to warm the milk before you mix it in--and only do very small splashes of it at a time. You'll be able to see it get absorbed, so you won't add too much. You can also add in a little butter (margarine, whatever) for flavor.

November 7, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterj.s.

Get a couple of trays of Bob Evans mashed potatoes from the grocery, mix in some sour cream and cream cheese, sprinkle some shredded cheddar cheese on top, bake them in the oven, and voila, delicious potatoes! They are heavenly and so very simple!

November 9, 2008 | Unregistered Commentershannj77

~ and use the pot you cooked the potatoes in, after you drain them, to do the mashing. "If the pot ain't hot, you must say "Not!"...er, or something like that.

Gooey, gluey mashed potatoes taught me to carefully follow Grandmother's recipes whenever she wrote them explicitly (as opposed to the handful-of-this's or the sprinkle-of-thats that dot her recipe file.)

I realize I totally went all fix-it on you, instead of empathically feeling your pain. What are the holidays for, after all? :-)

November 9, 2008 | Unregistered Commenteraazmom

I totally understand the vocabulary thing with your nephews. Being the aunt is the greatest; you can teach them things that are funny but not necessarily "right" and leave at the end of the day. When my nephew was younger, I taught him to smack his behind and say "Who's your daddy". Yeah, my sister thought it was funny the first time but after about the 20th, she wasn't real happy with me!

November 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSara N

I always make my potatoes with the skins on. That said, I use those small red potatoes. Heck, I'd never make mashed potatoes if I had to peel the dang things.

I also chop up a heap of garlic, and cook it in a small saucepan with a stick or two of butter, depending on the amount of potatoes. Then, when the butter/garlic mixture goes into the potatoes, the yummy garlicky flavor goes throughout.

November 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterToni

MB, we've had two people cancel for Thanksgiving, so you're welcome to come by. (We're right up the road from you all in Baltimore.)
This will be my first time cooking much of anything, much less Thanksgiving, but we did a Faux Thanksgiving last weekend and everything went very well. Do you prefer white or dark meat??? :)

November 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKris

Thanks, Kris, but we're hosting another Thanksgiving orphan at our home. But we appreciate the offer :)

November 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMB
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