It struck me this week that I use food to mark time. Take this exchange between The Boy and me, for instance:
BMG: “When did we mail that package to my family…was it before or after the beef stew?”
TB: “Hmm…don’t know about the beef stew…but it was after the Greek Pizza…and before the latkes…”
After a bit more of the same, we both became COMPLETELY AND INEXPLICABLY ravenous.
Ten minutes later, as I contemplatively chewed my High-Fiber Steel-Cut Oats with Extra Flax (ahaha, just kidding, it was a pot sticker), I thought about what that means, this condition whereby people mark the events of their lives by what they ate for dinner that night. I realized that it’s really not just the final product that imprints itself on our minds and memories–it’s how we got there.
For example, I remember with alarming accuracy the sploosh that my last goat cheese pizza made when it hit the kitchen floor, even though I shouldn’t have been making dinner at all since I’d had an awful day at work but I was just trying to make things nice for us I WAS JUST TRYING TO MAKE THINGS NICE SO SHOOT ME FOR TRYING TO MAKE THINGS NICE. I don’t remember how the pizza tasted because I don’t eat food that’s touched the floor because I have standards and people with standards don’t–okay, that was a fun game of pretend, anyhoo, the pizza was still pretty good.
Food is pretty consistent for me–it winds itself throughout my day as a kind of soundtrack. Defrosting, marinating, chopping, steeping, wrapping…these are the activities that pepper my day at least as often as checking email, mending fishnets, engaging in primal screaming, and sending harassing and objectifying text messages to The Boy.
So really, it’s never just Beef Stew night…it’s more like Beef Stew day. Which means two things about the cooking you do:
One, it had damn well better be fun (we always have fun when we cook, don’t we, misfits?)
And two, the emotional risk and reward have gone way up. That pizza damaged my ego far more than if I had poorly reheated a can of…whatever comes in cans. Right now all I can come up with is corned beef hash. That comes in cans, right? But if feels like it shouldn’t.
Well, anyway, you get what I’m saying. So the joy that comes from a phenomenal success–well, that’s heightened as well. So as exaggerated as it may sound, the life of one who cooks is full of highs and lows, isn’t it? The lows often looking something like your Bad Mama Genny kneeling on the floor sobbing over a pizza puddle with her mouth full, intermittently screeching, “IT HASN’T BEEN TEN SECONDS YET! IT HASN’T BEEN TEN SECONDS!”
So how about a recipe for Dairy-Free Garlic Mashed Potatoes? Comforting food for those times when you need comfort. Like when you’re a cheesy mess throwing a temper tantrum on the kitchen floor. Just, uh, maybe let someone else handle the sharp knives and open flames, ‘kay?
Dairy-Free Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Makes 2-3 generous servings
4 large potatoes
salt and pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 to 3/4 cup almond milk (or soy, or rice, or moo…whatever works for you)
2 T. dairy-free spread of your choice, or butter (despite being a lactard, I can tolerate butter. When you can tolerate butter, you should go for it)
2-3 teaspoons olive oil
Wash the potatoes and cut into small chunks (I don’t peel mine-I usually leave the skin in for flavor and nutrition). Put them in a saucepot with enough water to cover them by an inch, and turn the heat up to medium-high. Let them boil until they’re tender; remove from heat, drain, and cover.
Add the minced garlic, “milk,” and “butter” to the hot potato cubes. Use a large spoon or potato masher to smash the potatoes and incorporate the other ingredients. When it’s at the desired level of chunkiness (my desired level of chunkiness is CHUNKY), determine whether or not you’d like extra milk, and add salt and pepper to taste. When you’ve done this, drizzle a bit of olive oil over the potatoes and gently whip it in.
Now wipe away those tears, take a spoon to those potatoes, and get trashed. You’ve earned it.