Questionable Parenting & Crispy Smashed Taters

Questionable Parenting & Crispy Smashed Taters

I’ve said it a million times…
The powers that be knew what they were doing when they left me out of the procreating pool, I just wouldn’t make a very good parent. My insane phobia around children not withstanding, I would probably spend more time in family court than at work for my views on discipline and punishment, acceptable public behavior, and just things in general that I’d consider… fun.
I mean, I’d have no qualms with spanking my child… taking a switch to them even. My parents did both to me and I didn’t come out the other side of childhood irreparably damaged. Hell, I’d even let you spank them… provided they did something bad. I’d insist they treat adults like adults and behave in a respectful manner. “Yes Sir” and “Yes Mam” wouldn’t be foreign concepts for their little minds, and they would have a firm grasp on the stark truth that they are not, in fact, miniature adults. There are rules… and there are consequences… and those consequences – can be a bitch.

“You can’t have a BB gun, you’ll shoot your eye out.”

And then there’s the fun stuff.
I’m not so sure that I’d be so careful about what they did. Children need to develop a healthy respect being around potentially dangerous things. In my grandparent’s time they played with miniature steam engines… real, fire powered, pressurized canisters of hot, skin-searing steam. We didn’t have an entire generation of disfigured children as a result. They had respect for the power of the thing. The cap guns when I was a kid were metal… and heavy. And the caps (when discharged) would send up a cloud of noxious sulfur and make your ears bleed from the percussion. And if you scratched the cap just right with your thumbnail, wow! you could almost char the end of a finger. No one died… at worst, you got a little 2nd degree lesson in stupidity.
… and maybe a spanking… for good measure.

“What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger”

I’m kind of like that in the fun aspect of things. If it’s not going to kill you, I don’t think I’d be terribly concerned about you doing it. In my book, Fun – and an object lesson rolled into one…
It’s a win-win situation.
Jane even got the healthy respect lesson. (really, don’t cringe when you get through this) Jane tells the story where my grandmother would build a fire in the back yard, and give the kids a pan of hot grease with some potatoes to fry up… unsupervised.
I’m guessing Jane was probably around 10.
I was a little freaked out when she first told that story. But think about it – how cool would kids think that was? They were careful and no one ever got hurt. But being outside on your own – frying up little crispy chunks of taters… to eat??..??
A: your kids would think you hung the moon.
B: They’d  respect that hot oil can do some serious bad mojo if handled badly.. okay – maybe a little hot grease splatter. But again – no one died…
C:  They would be careful. Because spilled grease, backyard on fire means you never ever get to do that again.

So, yeah – permanently reserved parking spot at family court.

In honor of my grandmother’s unflinching ability to let my mother have all kinds of fun with potatoes, we’re doing smashed taters. Don’t worry – we’re doing them in the oven…. so it’s all safe.

Herbed Crispy Smashed Taters
The herb mixture is really based on your own personal taste –
try to use something strong and aromatic
Serves 4
16 to 20 Mixed Mini Potatoes
1 Small Russet
1 Sweet Potato (Smallish)
2 Tablespoons Light Oil
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
6 to 8 Kalamata Olives (Pitted)
1 Tablespoon Rosemary – Minced
1 Teaspoon Lavender or Sage – Minced
1/2 Teaspoon Thyme
1 Clove Garlic – Minced
Zest and Juice of 1 Lemon
Black Pepper to Taste
Kosher Salt
Sheet Pan
Medium Sauce Pan

Preheat the oven to 450
Mince the olives and mix together with the herbs, garlic, zest, and pepper

Wash and scrub all the potatoes
Cut the russet and sweet potato into pieces matching the mini potatoes

Cover the potatoes in the pot with salted water and bring to a boil
Cook until they are fork tender
Drain and allow to dry and cool down  for 5 to 10 minutes

Oil the baking sheet and place the potatoes on the pan
With the heel of your hand, press down on each potato until the skin cracks and they  flatten out
Top each with some of the herb mixture

Top with the olive oil and the lemon juice, and sprinkle with salt
Roast in a 450 oven for 25 to 30 minutes – until the nooks and peaks are nicely browned
Remove and top with kosher salt while still hot from the oven


8 thoughts on “Questionable Parenting & Crispy Smashed Taters

  1. Toby, haha! You just made me laugh with your parenting comments….because seriously, we raised our four kids pretty close to what you are saying there. That’s why we lived out in the woods in the country and homeschooled them. Now they’re grown, with insane wit and work ethics. As adults, they tell me they loved their childhoods, even with the spankings!

  2. Ah, Toby, a man after my own heart. It's probably a good thing I never had kids either!!As for these taties – oh my gosh, they look fabulous. I've done smashed taties before, with parmesan cheese, but I'm in love with this version with black olives, lemon zest & garlic. I never would have thought of that, but I can't wait to try it. This could be my dinner tonight – yes, I could make a meal of this!Happy New Year to you

  3. I'm a great believer in free-range parenting and it's a key reason The Child is in private school – I saw first hand the detrimental effects of not enough playtime at school. I could rant and rave on this subject for hours (and often do).Crash potatoes! I've made em before, love'em. My recipe is pretty basic and I like to use infused oil. The bagged little taters from trader joe's work great.

  4. Working in a school I see the effects of kids who don't get to explore and learn what Hubby and I call 'life lessons'. It is kind of scary. The kids with natural curiosity are all labelled attention deficit now. I don't think I'd let the Boy fry potatoes over an open fire in grease, but I do let him experience his own failures, and yes, there was a time we knew the folks at the x ray and casting departments quite well…..oops. Kids do need to know how to respect their elders, do what is expected of them, and experience life. Yeah…..too bad it is all video games and staying inside these days.As for those crispy skinned taters….fabulous! I like the addition of the seasonings…..tasty! Perhaps I will have a bonfire in the yard and break out the cast iron……

  5. Toby, give me a high 5! I totally agree with you on the sorry state of affairs with kids these days. And I support discipline and punishment too, with good reasons. As an adult now, I can see that my Mum did the right thing with us kids. She's the queen of discipline. I can see how spoilt the current generation of kids are. Love the taters! Just last weekend I saw bags of mixed US potatoes at the local supermart. Noticed there were purple potatoes in there too. Should grab a bag this weekend and test your recipe 🙂

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