Top 3 Moments of Panic from Thanksgivings Past (Part 2)

November 19, 2010 at 3:21 pm 4 comments

Are mashed potatoes really that difficult to make?


I admit I’d never actually attempted to make them from scratch until a few Thanksgivings ago, but it seems like there’s a lot of advice and troubleshooting for successfully producing the perfect mashed potato.

But all the recipes are pretty straightforward: Boil ’em. Mash ’em with some stuff. The end.

How hard can that be?

Turns out, it’s not difficult, and I still don’t know why there’s so much literature on the subject. Especially when the one key piece of information that really matters is missing from all that literature.

Potato peel is the enemy.

As I said, I really had no trouble with the recipe (Mashed Sour Cream and Scallion Potatoes, by the way). OK, it is true that math tripped me up again. I should have realized that I didn’t need 8 servings of mashed potatoes for 2 people, and even if I hadn’t looked at the number of servings, the “7 pounds of potatoes” in the recipe’s ingredients should have at least been a red flag, but that’s another story.

No, this story is about the hidden danger that’s lurking in every mashed potato preparation: the propensity for peel-tastrophe.

I was feeling right on track with my Thanksgiving prep. The bird was in the oven and, fingers crossed, not stewing in a cornucopia of deadly bacteria. The game plan for the side dishes was on schedule, the desserts were made, and the potatoes, stripped of their jackets, were skinny-dipping away in a giant pot of boiling water.

Seemed like a good time to do a little cleaning up. So I shoved the mounds of potato peel down the sink drain and turned on the water. I flipped the switch to turn on the disposal. And then…

Click. Click. Click.

Apparently, 7 pounds of potato peel should not go down your garbage disposal. Apparently, this is a well-known fact.

I did not know this.

Potato Peel of Doom!

Water, potato peel, onion skins, raw turkey juices and various other substances from the morning’s prep were rapidly filling up the sink.

Click. Click. Click.


I did the only thing I could think to do: I panicked. How was I going to finish making Thanksgiving dinner with NO KITCHEN SINK?

With a big meal at stake, my husband quickly sprang into action. He switched on the disposal again.

Click. Click. Click.

(Seriously, why do they do that? Do they think maybe we just weren’t able to figure out how to properly operate what amounts to a light switch?)

Then he went into full handyman mode, getting out the flashlight and crawling under the sink. Now I was REALLY panicking.

But he found just what we needed under that sink – a 1-800 number stamped onto the disposal unit.

Here’s how he describes the call to the Insinkerator helpline: A nice, Asian-sounding woman answered the phone and, after listening to him recount our situation, responded calmly and with great seriousness:

“Sir, do you have a plunger?”

After some plunging and some digging around and some maneuvering, we managed to dislodge the potato peel glue and reset the disposal.

Peelpocolypse averted.

Thanksgiving was back on track.

I’ve never made mashed potatoes again, but it’s not the peel that’s kept me away. It’s something much more sinister.

You’ll just have to wait until Part 3 to find out what that is.


Entry filed under: Cooking, Don't Try This At Home.

Top 3 Moments of Panic from Thanksgivings Past (Part 1) Thanksgiving Panics – Bonus Post

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Regina  |  November 19, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    ANOTHER great story and warning to all about “peel-tastrophes”! I’m buying instant from now on!

  • […] if you’ve been following this series, you know that I once made mashed potatoes for two people using a recipe that called for seven pounds of potatoes. We’ve also […]

  • 3. Laura  |  December 17, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    Brings back some not so pleasant memories of Thanksgiving 2007 – where I was hosting dinner for 15 family members in my new house. Trusty Expert Cook Aunt Doris assured me potato peels were in fact “meant” to be put into the disposal. The resulting peel-tastrophe left me with 2 inches of water on my kitchen floor at 9am on Thanksgiving morning. Thank G-d for American Home Shield who was able to send someone out by 11am and dinner was salvaged. The stomach virus [it was NOT food poisoning] that 1/2 of us ended up with the following day is another story altogether…Rays on the River has been a favorite spot of ours for Thanksgiving Dinner ever since!

    • 4. marlainkontheside  |  December 18, 2010 at 8:49 am

      That story makes me feel much better! Ray’s on the River is a good back-up plan, OR you could have Aunt Doris whip up some jambalaya. YUM!


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