Sunday, 1 August 2010

Culinary conundrum

Even though we have such wonderful local meat and produce, sometimes we fall back on less inspired meals. Especially after a busy day. Mike's default meal is toast. Tonight I am reduced to a mashed potato sandwich and a glass of wine.

I found myself wondering what wine goes with a mashed potato sandwich. I offer that thought as the "Pointless Question of the Week". The answer is obviously Whatever Bottle is Open goes with mashed potato sandwich.

Does anyone else have any shameful meals they'd like to admit to?


  1. Nope! Can't beat toast and a mashed potato sandwich! LOL
    I would think that a bottle of Ripple......with the mashed potato sandwich. ha ha

  2. My staple is oats and honey. I don't even bother to cook the oats, just drizzle them with honey and a splash of milk. I add a banana or yoghurt if I'm feeling luxurious. (Aka, if I have anything in my fridge.) My other staple is bread and olive oil, which depends on me having bread. If I want something warm, I microwave some frozen peas, add salt, pepper and some dried basil, and mush it up with a fork before slathering it on toast. It's like the speedier cousin of your mashed potato. :)

  3. Karen - I never thought of Ripple! Now you're just encouraging me down a slippery slope...

    M - All your suggestions are completely respectable, and healthy too. I will try and remember them for next time.

    In the spirit of full disclosure, I should have admitted that the mashed potato was 2 day old leftovers. If I had to make potatoes from scratch I would have joined Mike in his toast feast.

  4. Jen,
    Every once in a while even the Flaherty Haspel household experiences culinary fatigue.
    Our little secret is, microwave popcorn with melted butter and truffle oil sprinkled generously with Reggiano parmesan.
    Wash it down with a nice Pinot noir, use your bed as a dining room table and viola!
    Kevin F.

  5. Breakfast makes a good dinner, in a pinch, as are salads, however I usually make my favorite pasta dish with bacon, garlic, red pepper flakes and greens topped with fresh grated Romano because I don't have to think about it and it's always good. I served that one up three times one week and Steve never blinked. That was a tough week- I was nearly brain dead by the time I got home.

    The Germans have a meal in the evening, especially after a large lunch, called Brotzeit, which is literally translated as bread time. Bread (or toast, if Mike prefers) with cheese or cold cuts and a variety of savory nibbles like radishes, olives, pickles, etc. That one goes with both beer and wine.

    Back in the day, Birdseye used to make a frozen green bean product called Bavarian beans that had bacon and spaetzle in it in an herbed butter sauce. When I could get it, I'd microwave a package of that and eat the whole thing for dinner, washed down with a Pinot Grigio. I ate a lot of that one while remodeling my kitchen.

    I think my most recent cop-out dinner was a couple of Scandinavian crackers spread with chevre and topped with a little olive oil and dried herbs. I'm not sure I could get myself around a mashed potato sandwich. I would be more likely to mix some potato starch and flour in it and fried it up as potato cakes (which I'd eat with homemade ketchup).

    Good think I just ate lunch or I'd be in real trouble right now.

  6. Bowl of cereal with milk for dinner.

  7. PB&J. Sometimes even a largish bowl of popcorn, though that's something I gravitate towards more in the fall and winter. Okay, really shameful: When I was a college student, I'd buy frozen hash brown patties. I don't know why I started doing this, as I'd never grown up eating them and I certainly wasn't proud of buying them. After long days at school with lots of homework afterwards, I'd turn on the oven, throw a couple of hash brown patties in a cast iron skillet, spray them with cooking oil, and then stick them in the oven. About 15 minutes later I'd throw in a frozen Hebrew National hot dog and they'd all be done at the same time. It took minutes to prepare, and hardly any cleanup either. Yeah, those were the slummy days.

    Now I wish we had some potatoes to grate up for rosti.

  8. Never drink bad wine. This is easy for me to say living just south of Sonoma and Napa, but if you always keep tasty wine on hand, it will elevate your dinner of grilled cheese sandwiches and/or bag of crisps.
    If I am too lazy to even walk a block to get decent food, then I am usually too lazy to actually uncork a bottle of wine. In that case, I'll eat a bowl of cereal, and there's no wine that goes with Cheerios.

  9. Why didn't you fry the mashed potato and add an egg and a bit of bacon? You could also add a banana fried as well - a wonderful combo! Mashed potato sandwich sounds so bland............

    BTW, I'd omit the wine!

  10. martha in mobile2 August 2010 at 04:58

    Refrigerator Pasta: 1 leftover veg + whatever cheese + leftover rice or pasta = dinner.

    Bonus recipe: above - cheese + peanut butter/soy sauce/water = Hey, It's Thai!

  11. I adore mashed potato, but the thought of having to peel them (especially because the potatoes here in Germany seem a bit smaller than the ones I'm used to in Australia) always puts me off. Bubble n Squeak is another great use for leftover veggies & mash... mmmm fried.

  12. You have all given me new simple ideas to try on those uninspired evenings.

    Kevin - I never thought of using placement and wine choice to cover up a basic dinner.

    Paula - We'd had your bacon chili pasta dish the night before. Great minds eh?

    Kate - Hash browns and any chance were you a young child in the 1970s??

    Kerry - Cheerios has always been your signature dish. You could omit the milk and add bourbon now that you're a grown-up. I've yet to sink as low as macaroni in ketchup with hot dogs, but that's my ace in the hole...

    Jenny - My sandwich was not a festival of taste that's for sure. I needed the wine to compensate.

    Martha - I've just made a note of your "thai" sauce. I'm seriously going to try that. The refrigerator pasta is already a meal in our house, especially now that we're inundated with zucchini squash from the garden.

  13. M - I have to cook at least 5 kg of potatoes every shoot day for the workers' lunch and I never peel them. Just wash them, boil them and mash them with the skins on. In the southern US it's called "dirty mash".

    I agree - Bubble and Squeak is a great dish! In fact anything with melted cheese gets a thumbs up from me.

  14. My most embarrassing too-tired-to-cook dinner is corn chips and salsa with a hefty glass of home-brewed Hefeweizen ... but the kids aren't particularly fond of either (silly girls!), and so, for them, it's usually something like a bagel with peanut butter.

    That said, I think any meal made at home, including toast and mashed potato sandwiches, is by far preferable to eating out (which we are too often prone to do), and I feel much better about eating chips and salsa for dinner than having stopped at the local pizza joint for carry-out :).

  15. Eggs & cheese on toast. If I have already had eggs & cheese on toast but am still hungry, I just have cheese or butter on toast.
    If I'm tired but willing to gather more than 3 ingredients, I make nachos (or, I don't have chips, I use toast & call it pizza).
    We drink beer with any of these.

  16. Well, since we've mentioned cheese (*Everything* is better with melted cheese) the obvious suggestion which comes to mind is cheese on toast, and variations of the same (cheese and tomato and branston pickle for example).

  17. Wendy - I haven't got enough willpower to keep a bag of corn chips in the house. But you're absolutely right that a quick meal at home is better than a quick meal out (not that we have much choice: one chinese takeout and a fish & chips bar).

    Raheli & Maria - Have you tried scrambling the egg with a bit of beer and some mustard, cook it a bit, put it on toast and cover with strong cheese THEN put it under the grill (broiler)? Or cheese on toast with a good dash of worcestershire sauce? And it has to be beer, no question!

  18. Jennifer, do I really have to answer that?

  19. I enjoy reading your blog from here in western NY state -- you write about your experiences wonderfully. My lame-ish lunch on the go is peanut butter and cinnamon on anything in the pantry...bread/rice cake/celery. Our dinner on the fly is pasta + egg thrown in + lots of pepper + what ever cheese is in the fridge. And wine of choice,sadly, anything pink. :-)

  20. Jen- if you have a glut of zukes, grate them, squeeze the living daylights out of them over the sink to get them as dry as you can, and then mix them up with an egg and some potato starch and/or flour, pepper, onion powder, dry salad dressing mix (whatever) and then fry them up. Kind of like potato latkes but much less guilt, although.....they are awfully good sprinkled with garlic salt and then topped by sour cream. I leave the salt out until after they're cooked because it draws the remaining water out of the veg and wets your mixture down.

  21. Kate - Your secret is safe with me...

    Sharilyn - It's great to have a reader from Upstate NY. Thanks for the kind comments and for passing on your food shortcuts. Pasta and cheese plus whatever's in the fridge seems to be the number one quick meal solution. I'm all for the pink wine too.

    Paula - That is a good idea for zukes. I'm writing that one down. I am always looking for ways to make them more interesting. And anything fried sounds good to me.

  22. Hi Jen - no, I haven't tried that. Would that be the traditional rarebit you're describing?

    another quick and easy yet filling and not too unbalanced supper is mashed potato and scrambled eggs. it's comfort food into the bargain...

  23. Kevin already 'fessed up to the Flaherty/Haspel popcorn dinner. But sometimes when Kevin's not home, I'll eat two cans of artichoke hearts with whatever salad dressing I have leftover. It works with the Asian-style stuff I make for chicken salad, or the vinaigrette for green salad. Pathetic.

  24. Cereal and milk.
    Kraft macaroni and cheese (the blue box) with cut up boiled hotdogs in it.
    Peanut butter on toast.
    And if I really feel like "cooking" - french toast!

  25. Maria - That is indeed the rarebit, and a good way of using up a backlog of eggs. i'll try the potat-egg combo on your advice.

    Tamar - mmmmm...artichoke is it even your 'quick' meals sound cosmopolitan!?!

    DHimC - Kraft Mac & cheese falls under the 'treat' category in our house. It's only sporadically available in one grocery store near us, and it's oddly lumped in the Polish food section.

    I love french toast too, though the English eat it with ketchup instead of maple syrup. I'm not on board with that combo.

  26. Entire (large) bag cheese + onion crisps. Tinned sweetcorn (must be Green Giant with salt + sugar), straight from the tin. Tinned mushroom, straight from the tin. Frozen green beans, thawed in the microwave + tossed with a couple of tbsps Loyd Grossman jarred pasta sauce. All with wine, of course.

  27. sharilyn is not the only reader from upstate NY; me too, from Central upstate Ny, where I stumbled on your blog several months ago, and have since tried to find it again. And I just did, and will save the site. Very interesting blog, and allows me to experience vicariously the rural British life I always thought I'd have.

  28. Anon - I shouldn't play favorites, but I love hearing from upstate NY readers. England is lovely but I get homesick and knowing you guys are out there is like a touchstone.

    I'm tracing my family tree and my mom's side lived in NY as early as 1798 (Washington county). It's nice to feel like you have roots. Are you native NY or do you have roots here in the UK?

    I'm glad you found us again too.

  29. i enjoy this blog- reminds me of the 80's,my children were young we had a small "farm" with chickens,ducks,geese,rabbits,goats,2 horse's,pony & my long time dream-Jenny my jersey cow.this also was in upstate NY.