as simple as simple gets

“I’m not spoiled, I’m primitive!”

That’s what my older daughter yelled at me after I had a hissy fit about my children having the nerve—the nerve!—to thumb their noses at the food I serve.

I busted up laughing, of course, which stopped her short and prompted her to ask, “What’s primitive mean?”

That’s my girl, the primitive spoiled one. Or the primitively spoiled one. Or the spoiled primate.


pretending to not be primitive


My son has been playing with his MP3 player. So far he’s already deleted all the music he put on it. Smart move, sonny.

And he’s discovered it has a webcam and that he can hook it up to the computer and then take pictures of the computer screen which makes the screen go on into infinity, like those three-way mirrors in dressing rooms.

I’m intrigued with the pictures he comes with. Like of me turning my head:

Or of me writing:

Don’t I look tortured?

It’s already come in handy, too.

I sent him out on a six-mile, round-trip bike ride with orders to take pictures of the agreed upon destination spot as proof he got there.

He also took a nauseatingly wobbly video of the trees and road and garbage cans, his voice in the background saying, “You believe me, Mom? You believe me now?”


Here’s a novel way to peel garlic. It really does work! (I entertained the family with a demonstration. My husband was sufficiently impressed.)


I have another little non-recipe to share with you. It’s my method of choice for preparing sweet potatoes in quantity.

I stuff my oven with sweet potatoes and bake them potatoes until they’re fork tender. (I’ve always pricked my potatoes with a knife, because that’s what I do with the white ones, but I recently read that you’re not supposed to prick sweet potatoes. Which makes sense, considering that my baked sweet potatoes ooze lots of juices that turn to balls of char when they hit the stove floor. I’m eager to see if no-prick baking equals a cleaner oven.)

Once the potatoes have cooled a bit, I tear off the peels with my fingers. The skins go to the chickens and the soft potato pieces plop into my large mixing bowl where I give them a thorough beating with my handheld mixer.

Now, at this point I have two options. I can either refrigerate or freeze the potato puree for later (think sweet potato pie!), or I can proceed with the mashed sweet potato recipe. I usually just work up to this step and then refrigerate the whole kit and caboodle. The mashed potatoes tend to disappear over the course of the next several days, usually before I can even get around to making a pie. The kids love to eat it by the bowlful.

But if I want to make this into an official side dish, I stir in a little salt, scoop the mashed sweet potatoes into a greased baking dish, dot the top with butter, and then bake them in a hot oven.

And that, my dears, is about as simple as simple gets.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

sweet potatoes
a little butter

Roast the sweet potatoes, scoop out the soft flesh, and beat it until it’s creamy smooth. Stir in some salt to taste. Spoon the potatoes into a greased baking dish, dot with butter, and bake at 350 degrees till the top gets slightly caramelized and the potatoes are hot the whole way through.


  • Jennifer Jo

    Kris, I broke my garlic—the regular store stuff—with just several whacks of my hand. It wasn't hard at all. And I used big bowls, so I'm not sure how small bowls would work. Have you tried it yet?

  • Margo

    I like your mashed sweet potatoes – nifty. I can't stand all the sweet addititives that usually get added. We are particularly fond of some that I make with soy sauce, mirin, and garlic.

  • Kris

    I wonder if that garlic trick would work with smaller bowls, or if the distance between bottoms adds the benefit of greater gravitational pull?

    And what kind of softie garlic is he using that he can just smash it with his hands and not get a flesh wound? My garlic stems are hard enough to break skin, and not just their own.

    I'll try it and see. I kind of like peeling and chopping — meditative, you know — but sometimes you just need a boatload of garlic and fast.

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