I had every intention of simply painting some potatoes after the recent decadent offerings, but I ended up baking it and adding butter. It’s still rather simple, as the usual offering here in the States is a “loaded baked potato” which comes stuffed with everything you can imagine. Bacon and cheese are a common addition, but also sometimes sour cream and chives or even broccoli can be added to party. Since it takes about 50 to 60 minutes to bake a potato properly, I don’t have them very often. I lack both the patience to wait and the foresight to start one in time for dinner. But thankfully, I love potatoes in just about every preparation and there seems to be no end to the ways you can prepare them. As a kid, though, if given my vote, I would always choose either French fries or mashed potatoes.
My favorite French fries were the thick cut ones when I was growing up. These were also referred to as Steak fries, but my father was typically the only one who actually got the steak to accompany them. I liked them because they were not as crunchy and it seemed more like there was an actual potato involved. We would also sometimes have beef stew with potatoes and vegetables. This was served in a Crock-Pot® that had been slow cooking all day and we would line up to fill our bowls. My dad would always go first and fish out all of the chunks of meat, so by the time I was able to get some, it was mostly vegetarian. Still, the meat-flavored potatoes were deliciously satisfying. Actually, pretty much everything slow cooked for a day came out in the same mushy consistency, even the meat, and all tasted the same anyway.
Mashed potatoes were one of the crowd favorites at family gatherings when I was young. We would all meet up at my grandparent’s farm and there would be a couple slow cookers filled with them. At least, that was the hope. One year, there was only one and it was devastating. These were the days before social media and emails, so potluck dinners were a bit of a gamble. People were putting just a spoonful or two on their plates to ensure there was enough for everyone. It was just a big tease in the end and failed to satisfy anyone properly. But, as luck would have it, the same miscommunication created extra desserts that year, so there was a blissfully happy ending after all. Later in the week, my mom served baked potatoes and getting my own felt like a little trophy. After the recent potato famine, there was just something extra special about that little baked potato with butter.