Yesterday Papa and I went on the little trip to the Amish store to get potatoes. Well, the potatoes were cheaper there but they didn’t look too good, so I didn’t get them. I got some other things, though, like corn meal, fresh eggs, and some spices I was out of. I bought some potato flakes, too. This will stretch the mashed potatoes next time I make them. I will just make mashed potatoes with the raw cooked potaotes that I have, then add the dried potatoes to them to stetch them out. I always make a lot of mashed potatoes when I make them, as I use them either to make potato bread or to put on the top of casseroles and bake to brown in the oven.
At the end of a meal, if I have like about a cup or less of mashed potatoes in the pan, I just add a couple cups of warm water and stir it up. Then I add some shortening, or maybe some meat fat from the meal I had just cooked. (I melt the fat if I need to.) Then when my mixture is cooled down to the temperature of spit, I add a couple tablespoons of yeast and some sugar and salt. If I have time and the flour is handy, I add a couple cups of that. I stir that up and it is the consistancy of pancake batter. And then I let all of this work and rise and bubble. I put a loose lid on the top, or just a dinner plate or a cloth. You want to keep it all tucked in and warm so the yeast can stay happy and warm, so it can bubble up. And if it doesn’t foam up in about 25 minutes, your yeast is old and your mixture is pretty worthless. I guess you would have to throw that out.
Then when I get around to it, I make bread with this. I just add some eggs and, well, whatever else out there in my kitchen that ain’t tied down. I add flour, of course, and maybe some oatmeal … maybe a cup. And, well, you just keep adding flour and kneading it until you come up with a a ball of bread that isn’t sticky. Then ya let it rise again in a nice warm place and neatly tucked away in a greased bowl. After it rises to double, put it in some greased loaf pans, let them rise and then bake it into bread.
Well, that is how a lot of the old time Mothers did it. One meal’s leftovers was the next meal’s ingredients.
If I have a lot of mashed potatoes left over I would maybe make potato soup. Just add milk and butter and add some parsley and salt and coarsely ground pepper.
Or if ya have alot of potatoes left over, just put them in a casserole bowl and bake them with butter on the top and maybe some parmesan cheese. Or you could add sour cream to them and mix it all up for a potato dish. Papa ain’t into sour cream, so I wouldn’t maybe do that.
Also, I have given Papa and the kids enough potato pancakes to make them want to strangle me … sooooo I won’t even mention them. Well, maybe just this once. You just add eggs to your mashed potatoes and stir them up with salt and pepper, then fry them in a greased frying pan. Make sure your skillet is hot before you add the potatoes. I have made a million of them in my day and Papa will tell you that for sure.
And, well, I just couldn’t live without my cast iron skillets. Oh, I just love them. When I make bread, I make mine in a round loaf and I bake it on my flat round cast iron griddle. I made cornbread last night for supper and I used my square black iron skillet for that.
When the children were all home, I would use my water bath canner to boil potatoes in. I would put in my pan about 5 pounds of raw spuds with the peelings on, cover them with water, and boil them until they were done. I did this early in the morning while I was doing my dishes and cleaning up the kitchen. None of this is a lot of work … you just have to be around home to do it. Well, after they were cooked, I would just leave them on the stove to cool. Then, when I needed them for a meal, I would just peel them and use them. Usually, I made fried potatoes with these. Or they were used for soup or breads. Or just cut up in quarters and put in a pan with butter over the top and parsley salt and pepper.
I didn’t use these potatoes for mashed potatoes, as they didn’t turn out for me. Maybe they would for you. But any time your mashed potatoes are watery or won’t mash up fluffy, just add the instant potatoes to them to thicken them. And, if they are chunky, just reboil them. My family would croak if I used only instant potatoes, but I use the instant to either repair my mashed potatoes or to stretch them. I hide the sack in the cupboard so Papa can’t see it, and I just bring them out for emergency first aid.
In my potato bin this morning, I have a lot of little potatoes. I think today I will just fry them with the skins on in some shortening mixed with margarine, in my big black skillet. This is the hint to get your potatoes to brown nicely. Use half oil or shortening and half margarine. You need the oil or shortening to keep your potatoes from sticking to the pan, but the margarine will brown them. The oil will lay at the bottom of the skillet and the margarine will float on the top. Also, the spuds that I will fry today will be chunky, as the potatoes I have are about the size of eggs. So I will brown them in my skillet and then I will put them in the oven and bake them until they are done. I will sprinkle them with onion powder, salt and pepper.
Another quick potato meal I would make in the old days was the following. I would take the big baking potatoes and scrub the skins. Then I would slice them in half length wise. Then I would lay the cut side down in my skillet and brown it in margarine and oil or shortening. Then I would put my skillet in the oven and bake the potatoes until they were done. We would eat these as a finger food with ketchup, like french fries. But, believe me, I made a million of them, too, and the family grew weary of them. But one dish they never grow weary of is the mashed potatoes. Mary will make mashed potatoes in the evening as a snack and, of course, Papa will beg for some, too.
I remember one time when we were low on groceries and I had all the kids to feed. Papa and I just went to the store and bought a big package of hamburger and a big sack of potatoes, and we were set for the week. Of course, I had baking supplies and milk and canned vegetables and fruits already at home. But the potatoes and hamburger can go a very looong ways in keeping a family fed.
My older children were hardy breakfast eaters, as they went to public school back in the 70s, so I would often feed them sliced fried potatoes and pancakes before they left for school. I never bought pancake mix. I just made mine myself. Johnny, who is now 26, and Christiane Joy, now 28, would eat an easy 10 pancakes for breakfast before they went to school.
I made pancakes in a big plastic salad bowl. Sometimes I would add brown sugar and cut up apples and cinnamon. Sometimes I ran out of pancake syrup and I would make my own. Usually, I would get up early and just boil brown sugar and water together until it thickened on the stove. Sometimes, at the end, after it was getting thick, I would add a small package of jello, like cherry or strawberry. The kids liked that. And sometimes if I had apple cider, I would save some back to make my syrup with just the cider and brown sugar and cinnamon and vanilla at the end. We were always running out of syrup and salad dressing.
I often made home made mayonnaise. I would mix it with store bought to always keep the family happy and in sandwiches. And, oh, the water I have prayed over and added to meals to keep the food flowing. Well, not now so much, but when the kids were all home.
The other night, Lynetta came to visit. We had coffee. I have an old time perculator. Well, Lynetta says “Connie, why do you keep adding water to that coffee?” We both admitted that it stayed as strong as it was and tasted the same. I think it is the Lord that keeps making coffee as I pour in the water. But I knew Mary would come in and want some coffee, and Jim, so I just kept adding water as we drank our coffee. I probably get at least 2 pots of coffee out of one pot of coffee. Like this morning, I have had about 3 cups of coffee. Pretty soon, the family will be up and I will add more water until I have a full pot. Then later on, Mary will add water again. Then Jim will need some for his supper thermos to take to work. If it gets too low, I start over. If it gets to the bottom of the pot and no one added any water, I give up and start over.
But I remember My friend Jill. She would buy soda pop for a treat on the weekend. She never allowed her children to have pop without water in it. Her daughter was way past a teenager before she ever had straight soda pop without water. She couldn’t drink it straight. It was too strong.
But …oh, I dont know … I guess as a homemaker, if you can keep a straight face, you can get away with just about anything. I have served many a humble meal around here by candle light and a prayer. The kids never went hungry. Papa always made sure of that.
I told Lynetta, as we drank our coffee, “Are you cold? I will turn on the kerosene burner. I dont have any kerosene, but it will be ok.” I turned it on and it stayed on for about two hours. I didn’t put any water in it. We have electricity, but sometimes I use the old kerosene lamps. And, if my lamp oil gets low, I add water. The water will settle at the bottom and the oil will float to the top and the wick will rest in it. It works until you can get more lamp oil.
Now you know why Lynetta says I make her laugh when she comes for a visit. Whoever heard of turning on a burner without any fuel and serving everlasting coffee in a pot that never quits making coffee. And the cream for her coffee is about 3 months old, but it’s still good. Right, Lynette?