Monday, April 22, 2024
Food & DrinkJonathan Bardzik

Simple blessings: family, friends and flawless mashed potatoes!

Last year, right around this time, I was reading my favorite magazine. As I poured through new ideas for turkey, stuffing and a farm-fresh haul from the fall market I came across a set of tips for managing friend and family in the kitchen on Thanksgiving day.  It offered a list of suggested tasks for when people ask, “how can I help?” or “what can I bring?”

As I read the list, starting with asking guests to pour drinks or assemble biodegrable cardboard take-home boxes for left overs I started to get a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach. The final suggestion, inviting them to bring flowers in plan glass jars, confirmed my fears.

This wasn’t a list about how to share a kitchen together, it was intended to prevent your friends and family from ruining the menu and table setting you’ve worked so hard to plan. Now trust me, I cook for a living and I love decorating and entertaining. It kills me to open a can of cranberry jelly for my husband Jason each year and setting a child-safe table, leaving the good china in the cabinet when children (or friends who tend to tipple a bit heavily) seems like a tragic waste of a special occasion. However…

Good china, antique linens, my fresh Amish raised turkey and farm-market fresh menu aside, the real thing I am thankful for on the third Thursday in November are the people who fill my home. It’s the conversations we share in the kitchen, it’s everyone feeling part of the day, not relegated to a seat in front of the television, that I am truly thankful for.

So may this year be a little imperfect and if your husband Jason wants a simple bowl of mashed potatoes – no fried sage leaves or truffle oil thank you very much – then go ahead and serve it to him. However, it’s okay if you keep the cranberry jelly off the table while you’re taking photos. After all, there are limits.

Perfect mashed potatoes (photo by Matt Hocking)

Perfect Mashed Potatoes

Serves 6-8

These are the best mashed potatoes ever. There are three keys to this recipe: starchy potatoes, a food mill or ricer, and the tang from crème fraîche. Don’t over mix the potatoes after you mill them.


  • 4 large Russett potatoes
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 3 tbs crème fraîche


Boil potatoes whole and unpeeled until a paring knife easily pierces to the center.

Place potatoes, peels and all, in a food mill*.

Press potatoes through into a medium bowl.

Stir butter, cream and crème fraîche into warm potatoes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

*A ricer also works well.

Featured image of Jonathan and friends by Martha Fitzsimmon

Jonathan’s cookbooks offer simple recipes prepared with farm and garden-fresh ingredients to share with the people – friends, family and farmers – who make our lives matter.

Bring one home today or share one with someone special, click here.

Jonathan Bardzik

Jonathan Bardzik is a DC-based storyteller, cook, keynote speaker and author of three books inspired by the fresh, seasonal ingredients he finds in the garden and at farm markets. Self taught, Jonathan seeks to inspire home cooks with the belief that life can and should be lived well, something we can do everyday by preparing and sharing simple, delicious food with those we love. Find over 250 recipes and short stories, Jonathan’s schedule of live appearances and his books at

Jonathan Bardzik has 25 posts and counting. See all posts by Jonathan Bardzik

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