Monday, December 26, 2016


In my various posts I've occasionally alluded to my father's influences upon me. indeed, he was a great teacher. I still remember the day that he taught me how to tie my shoes as well as his many other lessons in life. Mixing concrete, fixing a car, building a fire, and using tools were all parts of the many things he taught me.

But the best thing he ever taught me was a skill that I still carry with me to this day. He taught me how to make great mashed potatoes.

Here's how it came about:

Like most families, we often had potatoes with our dinners. The possibilities were baked, mashed or boiled. Mashed were the best, baked weren't bad and boiled were not worth eating. Now, the difference between boiled and mashed lied only in my father's willingness to mash them as my mother despised the task. Unfortunately, after a hard day's work, my father would often times rather do anything than mash potatoes.

Here's where I came into the story. When I realized that it was incumbent upon me to save my family from the misery of boiled potatoes, I begged my father to teach me how to make them like he did. To that end he gave me some basic instructions which were overheard by my overly-attentive mother. Here's how the conversation went:

Pa: "Mash them as fine as you can get them, add milk and mash them some more. Now add some pepper..."

[My mother now interrupts]

Ma: "Not too much! I hear pepper isn't good for you."

Pa: "Then you add some salt..."

[My mother interrupts again]

Ma: "Not too much! I hear salt isn't good for you."

Pa: "Then you add some butter..."

[My mother interrupts again]

Ma: "Not too much! I hear butter isn't good for you."

And so it went. I became the go-to potato masher of the family. There was one problem however. Even though I followed my parents' instructions, my result was embarrassingly terrible.

After many unsuccessful attempts to create great mashers I asked my father (while out of earshot of my mother) what his secret was.

Ensuring that no one else could hear, he whispered to me:

"Lots of salt, lots of pepper, lots of butter, don't tell your mother."

From that day she always raved about my mashed potatoes...

...and she never suspected a thing.

Readers, enjoy your day.

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