2009 comebacks: Behold the humble mashed potato

Mashed potatoesWere you aware that the United Nations had declared 2008 as the International Year of the Potato? World wide, the magnificent potato has been gathering increased attention as a highly valuable food crop. In America, we have had a long and delicious relationship with potatoes. We love them fried, steamed, baked, made into dumplings and pancakes, mashed, smashed, stewed, baked into bread and pan fried into hash browns. In these times of mounting economic stress, our regard, reverence and outright love for potatoes has only continued to grow.

When most people think of mashed potatoes, they might envision a big creamy dollop of whipped spuds, crowned with a melting pad of butter on top, nestled next to some sliced beef and green beans. Perhaps they may think of mashed potatoes as the willing receiver of gravy upon a dinner plate delightfully adorned with roast poultry and greens. However, these mealtime scenarios have historically relegated the potato to an undeserved side-dish status. Given the potato's low cost relative to its food value, it's only fitting that mashed potatoes should now be moving into main-dish territory.

I went to one of my wife's favorite websites, Cooks.com. There, I found a whopping 743 recipes which responded to the search query, "mashed potatoes." The very first recipe I encountered was an easy to make dish called "Portuchenua beef-corn-mashed potato." It sounds absolutely delicious, and should easily feed a hungry family, without causing budgetary distress. I also found this recipe for Cheesy Mashed Potato Casserole, which would make an excellent base for combining or layering with any number of meat or vegetable ingredients. I even found several recipes for mashed potato cake, mashed potato doughnuts, and mashed potato candy.

If your food budget is placing a strain on you, and you're looking for healthy, budget-conscious options, don't forget to make room in your meal plans for our friends the potatoes. I promise, they won't mind if you mash them up a bit.

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