Friday, April 2, 2010

Lizards, Whipped Potatoes and One Fun Giveaway

My son and I discovered a couple of secrets about each other last week. I learned that despite his aloofness and quiet demeanor he does indeed seem to care about what goes on in his mother’s mind. I had no idea that he read my blog until his voice boomed from the den the other night, “I didn’t know that you hid vegetables in our food!” I quickly denied the admission I made in “A Cooks Confession” and wrote it off to poetic license. I don’t know if he bought it or not but, I guess I’ll have to start being very careful about what I write here as not to embarrass him or give away any parental trade secrets because as I know now, the opposing team is watching. After I was able to shake off being caught red handed, it occurred to me that he must be one of my silent followers. I’m so flattered and I want him to know if he’s reading this, how much I love him for it. Now, go clean your room.

Kevin and I don’t relate like we used to. When he was a really little guy, he and his sister would always run to my car instead of their father’s when we were going somewhere separately. I always took great pride in the fact that as much as they loved their father, it was obvious that they just loved me more. No less than what I would expect from people for whom I sacrificed my formerly hot body. Then at about eight years old a change occurred. Very gradually he started riding with his dad. Hey, he didn’t stand outside of the Disney store in the freezing UK rain just to score you a Buzz Lightyear buddy! I knew that this is the way it is supposed to be, but I hadn’t prepared myself to lose my baby boy so soon. Now days when we ride in the car together he often doesn’t say a word except for the occasional “yes" or "no.” In an effort to close the gap between us, I tried and failed miserably to bond with him by playing video games. I’ve also started watching sports with him but sometimes I just can’t endure the misery for too long and have to escape to my bedroom with a good book. Finally, in an effort to be the fun one for a change, I lifted my moratorium on reptiles and allowed him to bring home a collard lizard and all the paraphernalia that goes along with it. He bought an aquarium, sand, caves, hygrometers and thermometers, misters and things for it to climb on. All of this was just fine, and then came the food, crickets and worms; noisy, smelly crickets and big fat juicy worms which bear a suspicious likeness to maggots, in my house, in the hands of a teenage boy. This was the act of a desperate woman.

Fast forward seven months. Upon my return from Texas a few weeks ago, while changing the sheets on my son’s bed, I looked over and noticed that his lizard was sleeping in a very different position than normal. When Kevin arrived home from school I asked that he check on Jefe (boss in Espanol, I’m told) and was assured that that was the way lizards sleep, silly woman. Two days later, while putting away clothes in his drawers, I noticed that Jefe was in the same position. As an experiment I poked him with a wooden drumstick only to discover that he was as dead as the proverbial doornail. Hey, I may not know much, but I know a dead lizard when I see it.

Jefe in happier days

A couple of weeks later, we acquired a sick baby lizard from the manager at a local pet store who decided that it stood a better chance with us than in the garbage. Kevin and I made sure that this cute little guy had only the smallest crickets and the plumpest maggots, uh, wax worms, to fatten him up. We read up on sick baby lizards, kept his body at just the right temperature and fed him baby applesauce and bananas. Life was good until he suddenly died on us almost three weeks later. We were both heartbroken, but we were heartbroken together. Somehow, quite by accident, we had found our common ground, so I guess the disappointment was all worth it. Now that cute little lizard has been replaced with the meanest damn gecko I’ve ever seen. He looks like a Star Wars creature on crack and actually growled when the kid at the pet store pulled it out of the aquarium. I’ll tell you one thing; I won’t get too involved with this one, of course never say never, because it's obvious that there’s not much I won’t do to hang out with my wonderful boy.

Since I’ve dedicated this entry to him, it is only fitting that my recipe be for one of Kev's favorites. I know that my last few entries have been super simple, and I’m tooling up, but bear with me just one more time while I give up the secret to pure boy heaven.

Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

I know, I know, everyone knows how to make a decent plate of mashed potatoes. I thought the same thing until I set out to reinvent the wheel and kick up the flavor of the bland old mound of white on my plate. With just a few key additions, mashed potatoes are now an event at my house.

2 pounds (1 kilo) russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1” cubes
5 medium size cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon chicken bouillon
1 ounce (30g) cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons (28g) butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons whole milk or half and half
Salt and white pepper to taste

Place potatoes and garlic in a large saucepan. Pour enough water over the potatoes to cover them by 1 inch; add the bouillon and stir. Bring to the boil, reduce heat slightly and cook until the potatoes are fork tender; drain.

Place the hot potatoes into a large bowl. Add the cream cheese, butter and milk; whip with an electric mixer on medium high until they are smooth and creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste and whip for a few seconds longer to incorporate.

Garnish with cheddar cheese, bacon, sliced green onion tops, caramelized onions, parsley or lots of homemade gravy.

Makes approximately 4 cups.

My next giveaway couldn’t come at a more opportune time. CSN which owns several great sites has given me the opportunity to give to one of my followers a Cuisinart 7 speed electric mixer so your whipped potatoes can be even better than mine. Their sites include which carries everything from corner tv stands to huge library walls, with great modern decorator products and my personal favorite site, which has a huge selection of items and really great prices. If you’re a follower of this site and you’d like to participate, please just leave me a comment saying so. If you’re not a follower and would like to participate in this drawing, just sign up to follow my site and leave me a comment stating you’d like be included. On the evening of Monday, April 5th, I’ll celebrate my daughter’s birthday by selecting a winner through Good luck! Oh yea, huge apologies to my followers in Europe and Australia as due to shipping restrictions, this giveaway is only open to participants living in the US and Canada.


Carole said...

I was just about to purchase a new mixer but I'll wait a few days. It would be nice to use the money for something else.

edmontonjb said...

I just became a follower and would love to win a new mixer


Michaela. said...

Hi Karen. I really like the photograph of you on your personal profile.
Yes. Please enter me in the drawing for the mixer. I need one!
When my daughter moved to Texas, she took mine with her!

SGS said...

I am now a contented follower of your blog.

I just love that garlic mashed potatoes recipe you posted. Guess what's getting made for dinner tomorrow? :)

Thank you for the opportunity to win this mixer!

Lisa said...

The story of you and your son touched my heart. They do grow up too fast. I still use an old fashioned hand-held masher for my potatoes. I am going to have to try an electric mixer.

peggy said...

My first blogging experience! Yea Karen!!

Allie said...

I love all the stories you post along with your recipes!

I'm a follower :)

sscar said...

Karen, you have a knack (sp?)for humor! Loved reading your last few posts! Glad to hear I am not the only one who spends a hour or so dreaming up some subject that Neal may find interesting enough to share a sentence or two. The boys were SO sweet when they were little, and the girls were... less so. Now they are ALL I have! Oh yeah! Sign me up for mixer, and Happy Birthday Grace.

lal12166 said...

Hi Karen! I would love to win the mixer--then Lily and I could mix at the same time! thanks for offering it!

The Vintage Cook said...

Nice blog and a very talented writer you are! Happy Birthday to your little girl! A new mixer is a great prize!

Stephanie said...

I'm a follower and I would love to be included in on the giveaway I'd love to win a new mixer!

keflon said...

I was sooo touched by the lizards. You are such a dear big hearted woman!!

jennifer said...

So sorry about Jefe. It's never easy to break that news to kids

elinor said...

Cute story! Please enter me in your drawing--thanks!

keflon said...

I was so saddened by your lizard stories. Sorry to you both!

keflon said...

By the way! I would love the oppurtunity to win!!

Karen Harris said... came up with #3 which means Michaela is my winner! I hate that I don't have something for everyone. Thanks so much to everyone for participating!

Conor @ HoldtheBeef said...

What a sweet post :) I wonder if Kev reads the comments too? If so, g'day Kev! I wouldn't mind swapping places with you for a while so I could eat some of those mashed spuds.

Angie said...

I never thought of putting cream cheese in my potatoes, great idea!

淑純淑純 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
WizzyTheStick said...

The title of this post fooled me into thinking it might involve eating lizards as iguana is a delicacy in my country. Sorry about the loss of your pet. At least it was due to natural causes. I hope your son wasn't too heartbroken:-(

Elizabeth and Jared said...

I am a big fan of mash too. The ultimate comfort food. This recipe does sound fantastic! Thanks.