Cheesy Mashed Potatoes and Carrots

Cheesy Mashed Potatoes and Carrots

 

Mashed Potatoes are my favorite food and these are one of my favorites. These would be a perfect side for Thanksgiving, an alternative to the traditional mashed potatoes, or a weeknight meal.

Cheesy Mashed Potatoes and Carrots

6 large Gold Potatoes peeled and quartered

1 1/2 c peeled baby carrots

1/2 c cream or milk

1 t salt

1/2 t pepper

4 T butter

1/2 t dried thyme

1/2 c sharp cheddar cheese

Add potatoes and carrots to a pot of boiling salted water, cook until fork tender ( your fork should be able to mash them easily). Drain and return to the pot, add cream/milk, salt, Pepper, butter, and thyme. Use and electric mixer or mash by hand until smooth. Stir in cheese and serve. These also make a great topping for Shepherds or Cottage Pie.

Cheesy Mashed Potatoes and Carrots

Oma’s Potato Salad

Oma's Potato Salad

I was not sure I would ever post this recipe here. It is kind of a family treasure. My Oma (grandmother in German) would make this for every family gathering, it was our favorite, and now my mom makes it for all the special occasions. Everyone I know who has tried it loves it, it is so simple but so good. It is not the traditional warm German potato salad, we never had that, this was the only potato salad I ever knew until I was a teen. I have tried adding some other ingredients or doing it a little different but it is just not the same. It has to be made just the way Oma taught me.  So I have been sitting on this recipe not sure if it was a sacred family secret, and then my mom asked me to share it (said it would be perfect for Summer barbecues) so I guess it is ok to let the family treasure out of the bag. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Oma’s Potato Salad

5 lbs red skinned potatoes

1 c mayo

1 c  dill pickles chopped, **only use Claussen or other high quality refrigerated pickles

1 cup red onion chopped

1/2 c of the juice from the pickle jar

salt and pepper

Boil unpeeled red potatoes whole in salted water until they are cooked through. Use a fork to test doneness. Drain and wait until the potatoes are cool enough to handle but still warm (very important).  Peel and cut into bite sized pieces and place into a large bowl. while the potatoes are still warm pour 1/2 or the pickle juice over the top ( 1/4 c) When the potatoes are warm they absorb the pickle juice like a sponge, much like salting fries when they are still warm. Stir in the mayo, chopped pickles and onions and rest of the pickle juice. stir until combined and add salt and pepper to taste. Chill and serve. ( Although my son likes it best when it is still a little warm)

Oma's Potato Salad

Oma's Potato Salad

Heading North to Get South: Finding Florida

The Floridian Restaurant St. Augustine

Florida is a unique state, it’s it the most Southern state geographically but probably the least Southern state in the South. In fact, in Florida, the further South you go the less southern charm there is, this leads us to a small identity crisis. We have lots of outside influences because many residents are from somewhere else, they came here on vacation and decided to stay. So we don’t have a lot of traditions or local delicacies, we are mostly chain restaurants and strip malls.

This past week my family and I headed North to St. Augustine, a city on the East Coast of Florida just South of Jacksonville. I had been there before and have to admit I was slightly disappointed. I thought it would be this great town with charm and history, real traditional Florida, and instead I found a tourist trap. It was complete with day glow t-shirts and cheesy attractions, just like most of Florida. Most of the restaurants there offered fried shrimp and hamburgers, all frozen from Sysco I am sure. There was beautiful architecture and beaches but it was all marred by neon signs and wax museums, not at all what I was looking for.

I am glad I gave it a second chance, this time I stayed away from St. George Street (the biggest neon offender) and hung out on the outskirts of Old Town and I was rewarded. Our first great find was a restaurant called The Floridian.They are doing what I thought was impossible in Florida, serving delicious traditional Southern recipes made from local, seasonal and sustainable food. Not only that, but the menu is full of options, you can make many of the dishes gluten-free or vegetarian. We started with some local beers, Red Brick’s Hoplanta (yes it’s from GA, but I had never had it and it’s close enough) and Intuition’s I-10 IPA. Intuition’s was more to my liking , more of a West Coast style IPA.

Red Brick's  Hoplanta and Intuition Ale Works  I-10 IPA

Then we had some appetizers, Fried Pickles, house made pickles spiced with the locally grown Datil pepper ( think a sweeter version of a habenaro) Served with buttermilk herb dressing.

Fried Pickles

and the  Oysters Floridian, broiled Oysters with  home-made pimento cheese ( a southern staple that is making a comeback) and pickled slaw.

Oysters Floridian Broiled Oyster with Pimento Cheese

For my main course I chose the N Grits with Shrimp ( other options besides the shrimp were blackened or grilled fresh catch or tofu.) The grits were actually polenta cakes topped with the shrimp in a creamy remoulade sauce with fresh strawberry salsa and local feta cheese.

N Grits with Shrimp

My husband and son also had great meals, Waffles with Pulled Pork, and a Fried Green Tomato Hoagie.

The next day my son and I tried another local eatery called Yard Bird Cafe. It is a cute cafe hidden in a plaza on King Street, it is only open for breakfast and lunch. I would call it southern favorites with a college twist. It is across the way from Flagler college and I imagine a lot of students and staff frequent this restaurant, large portions of hearty homemade food that is inexpensive and unique. Black eyed pea hummus, Peanut butter and banana french toast, Chicken with peach and fennel salsa to name a few.

I had the homemade Chicken and Biscuits, delicious, and they came with a side of collards, my favorite, made even better with the local datil hot sauce. Yes, there are biscuits under there. My son had a pulled pork cuban sandwich.

Yard Bird's Chicken and Biscuits

So this time instead of coming back from St. Augustine disappointed, I came back re-energized and inspired for my home state, I even made my own pimento cheese. We do have great local farms and dairies (and breweries), we do have traditions and local cuisine. We just need to seek it out, embrace it and make a name for ourselves. We may not be a true Southern state, but we may be something better if we try.