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Basic Mashed Potatoes

Boil potatoes in salted until they break apart easily when prodded
with a fork or knifetip. If you slice or chunk them they will cook
quicker. Allow about a half hour from setting the pot on the burner
for whole potatoes; start testing after ten minutes for slices. Drain
well.

Drop in a chunk of butter (or margarine if you must) and apply masher
as the butter melts. When I use a 2 quart pot, I drop in about 2
Tbsp. of butter. (You can use an electric mixer instead of a hand
masher, but the consistency comes out gluey. Ick!)

When the potatoes are almost as smooth as you like them (I prefer to
leave some lumps), start adding milk and/or cream and mashing that in.
Start with about half a cup, and then add dribs and drabs until the
potatoes reach the consistency you like. (Be aware that mealy
potatoes will soak up a *lot* more milk than waxy ones, so if you
aren't going to serve them immediately, add just a little more milk
after they're "ready".)

Variations:

Add a few drops of Tobasco sauce with the milk. Using one drop per
serving will not make it hot or taste like pepper, but it will taste
better.

Boil a couple of cloves of garlic with the potatoes and mash them in,
or sprinkle garlic powder over as you add the milk.

Ditto sliced onions, or onion powder.

Stir in chopped parsley or chives at the very end.

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