Life, photos but not the universe

Something has gone wrong with my mash.

I’ve always used Maris Piper for roasting, baking and mashing.  They still roast ok but the last three batches of mash have been unmitigated disasters. Gluey and tasteless and revolting.  I’m using the same saucepan and cooker and (hand) masher and kitchen.  I cut them up the same way and I cook them for the same length of time.  I drain them and leave them for a couple of minutes to let the steam and excess water evaporate, chuff them up in the saucepan and then mash them while they’re still hot.  I’m not doing anything different and yet the minute I start mashing they turn to glue.  I can see even before I start mashing that they aren’t disintegrating properly.

Thing is I’m quite proud of my mash.  I love potatoes and all the marvellous things you can do with them.  And mash may be one of the quickest and simplest but it’s still one of the best.  Even, I’ve had compliments on my mash – light and fluffy, lovely, just right – all that sort of stuff which I wouldn’t dream of taking for granted!

I feel as if I’d got in my car and put it in first gear and the car went backwards! ♠

Well the only thing I can think of that’s changed is the (globally warmed) growing conditions.  Or, I suppose, Waitrose may have started using a different supplier with questionable maris pipers.  Or, I’ve mislaid a marble and I’m not doing at all what I think I am.  (But really, I am).  So I looked up mash and gluey mash and potato problems and all kinds of stuff on the internet.  As far as I can tell, even Jamie Oliver would approve my choice of potato and my technique.  As far as I can tell, I’m not doing any of the things that lead to gluey mash.  Not many suggestions that maris might not be doing so well this year though many interesting ideas about how to improve a poor potato yield.  For instance, in response to a question about few tubers growing from healthy plants  “water. how more water they have more potatoes you get. mulching doubles the yield at least. clay is not problem.

Hopefully, clay is not problem.  Hopefully I just need to use a different kind of potato.

So am I alone?  Has anyone else noticed a failure of Maris Pipers to behave as normal?  Or any other potatoes for that matter.

Anyway, tonight’s potatoes are not a huge problem as they’re going on top of shepherd’s pie and I’ve put loads of parsley in them and grated cheese on top. But I won’t love them.

Still in the kitchen, last week, we discovered the cause of the occasional, large puddle on the worktop.  The kettle was leaking.  (And we both thought we were being excessively watery with our cleaning).  Closer investigation revealed that there was a crack next to the water level indicator, so I got a new kettle.  Two big advantages of the new kettle are 1. That it doesn’t leak and 2. That it pours without dribbling everywhere.   I can almost forgive it the purply blue light that illuminates the water level gauge when it’s heating up.  There are potential annoyances that you can’t easily assess when you see a kettle in a shop and it’s really nice that this kettle doesn’t do one of them.

The blue light effect is usually labelled as a ‘feature’ and therefore considered a plus when buying so I’m glad they didn’t bother to mention it this time as I would have rejected it out of hand if I’d known it was going to do that – who needs faux space ship lighting effects with their coffee?  ‘Pours without dribbling’ would be a much better feature to advertise, in my (NSH) opinion but I suppose that’s assumed to be a given.

When we got the last kettle, I was so incensed by the dribbling that I looked it up on google and got all kinds of ideas about dribbling kettles.  (I thought there might be a gadget, somewhere out there, called ‘dribble stop’ or something like that.  Actually I think there may have been but I wasn’t interested in anything that cost more than 50p).  The cheapest option I could find was the suggestion that I should smear a little grease on the edge of the spout to do something to its coefficient of friction.♠♠

This was obviously nonsense since teapots have been dribbling, or not dribbling, since the beginning of tea time and most teapots have been made of and glazed with very similar, if not identical materials.  Some of them dribble and some of them don’t and it’s obvious, to the unscientific mind, that the difference is in the shape of the spout, not the coefficient of friction of the glaze/ceramic/metal/plastic/etc/etc.  I could be wrong, of course.  Do tell, if you know something about this.♠♠♠♠

I did try it, in the interests of domestic science and, lo and behold, it didn’t work though it did make me feel a bit queasy about the next few cups of tea.  I would love to go to Nepal (or is it Tibet?♠♠♠♠♠) but I’m not sure I would get on with the buttery tea they brew there.

Far from the kitchen (as far as the bottom of the garden) Barney made a bonfire.  I had to rush outside with the camera, abandoning a visiting friend, who quite understood as she is also a photographer.

Oak tree casting a spell


Smoked oak (I suppose the spell didn’t work)


Even further away, there was a purple evening (not quite as it came out of the camera though it really was quite purple)


And since it’s that time of year, a bit of blossom



Coo!  Innnit loverly!

Actually this did happen to me in the middle of  my driving test.  Well ok, it didn’t happen to me, I put the car into reverse gear instead of first.  Three times.  The examiner was very understanding and since I didn’t actually touch the curb, he didn’t fail me.  I shall always remember him with affection.

♠♠  I’m not sure if made up this phrase or dimly remember it from somewhere.  It sounds good though, doesn’t it, and if you read it like poetry, without trying to understand every word, some sort of idea of my intent will filter into your consciousness. ♠♠♠

♠♠♠ What?  You understand poetry?  Wow.

♠♠♠♠ Snigger – if you’re prepared to admit that you’re as ‘sad’ as me.

♠♠♠♠♠  Outer Mongolia?  I’d love to go there too.

April 26, 2014 - Posted by | Uncategorized |


  1. Maybe it’s something to do with the water you are boiling them in? Who am I to talk, my last attempts at mashed haven’t worked either. I blame the potatoes. Lovely fotos.

    Comment by Rosie | April 26, 2014 | Reply

  2. I love mashed potato but I tend to favour red skinned potatoes (roosters or desiree) for all my potato needs.

    My electric kettle (which must be 15 years old) came with a whistling sound effect, which amused me tremendously for a while. It was less amusing for the 3 years I shared my home with a shift worker and I had to listen to the flipping thing whistle at unsociable hours. Fortunately, the whistle appears to have packed up although it still goes off occasionally. It went of once when my nephew was here; he was only about 3 and he shouted “smoke alarm Auntie Liz!”

    Comment by Liz | April 26, 2014 | Reply

  3. No bells, whistles or alien lights on our kettle. It just boils and shuts itself off. I love it.
    And since I don’t do the cooking and our potatoes go by other names, I ‘m of no help. But I’d guess water and not potato. But that’s just me– could be the price you pay for delivered groceries! LOL…Made that up, I’m sure it’s not related.
    Oh, but lovely photos of the magical tree! Make him light another fire!! 🙂

    Comment by Mel | April 27, 2014 | Reply

  4. I hadn’t thought of the water Rosie. Since it’s privately provided it’s possible that it’s changed, though I can’t think how that would affect the potatoes!

    I’m buying potatoes in ones and twos Liz, to see if they work better. Unfortunately I can’t get loose roosters but I might go for a bag next time anyway. I’ve never had much luck with desiree.
    The kettle on the boat whistles. For a while I hid the whistle away but actually, you need it as it’s not electric. I think a permanent whistle would drive me up the wall!
    (So does your nephew’s Mum often burn the toast?)

    He’s building a shed now Mel. I’m not sure that it will provide any special effects.

    Comment by Mig | April 27, 2014 | Reply

  5. I’ve had similar problems with potatoes malfunctioning – and not just for mash,also for saute, when they haven’t. Unsure why, still asking everyone i know who might know – will let you know if I uncover anything.

    Comment by Blue Witch | May 2, 2014 | Reply

  6. Could you try steaming them instead of boiling? Takes a lot longer (if you don’t have an Aga) but might solve the problem until the new crop comes in – it occurs to me that maincrop potatoes are at the end of their storage period and might be more watery.

    I have a stainless steel kettle as plastic ones seem to start leading pretty soon. But it does have a blue light, which annoys me. Also, if you boil it and need to refill it and boil it again at once, it won’t work unless you weight down the switch to override it. Quite annoying. I don’t want to be told what to do by a kettle.

    Comment by Z | May 2, 2014 | Reply

  7. Please do let me know if you l;earn anything, Blue Witch. No one else that I’ve spoken to has noticed any problems. Which I suppose is good.

    Why is steaming quicker with an Aga Z? I might try it all the same though I did cook some Edwards yesterday and they mashed nicely so I’ll try them again.
    I’m getting accustomed to the blue light and the kettle still doesn’t dribble or leak so I’m quite pleased with it. And I quite agree, kettles should know their place and do what they’re told!

    Comment by Mig | May 3, 2014 | Reply

  8. You start by boiling the potatoes (or whatever root veg) in water as usual, then tip the water out and slap the lid back on, then put the pan in the bottom oven for the steaming to take place. It’s quicker because the potatoes have started to heat through when immersed in boiling water. Though I’m not sure, now I think of it, that water is the problem because they’re going gluey, not falling apart. Could they be an imported new crop, so be less fluffy than a maincrop spud should be? I haven’t mashed potatoes for a couple of weeks, but they were fine then – I use a ricer because it makes particularly fluffy mash.

    Comment by Z | May 3, 2014 | Reply

  9. I don’t see why that shouldn’t be just as quick in a regular steamer Z, if you start by boiling them.
    I do wonder if they were a new crop – though they weren’t smaller than usual.
    I agree, it’s not the water – or for that matter the cooking method, bearing in mind that none of those things have changed.
    I might invest in a ricer one day. It sounds like a nice kitchen toy.

    Comment by Mig | May 3, 2014 | Reply

  10. Yes, that’s the only reason it’s quick! My ricer was my ma-in-law’s – it’s brilliant, so quick and easy, though you have to wash it straight away or the potato sets hard!

    Comment by Z | May 4, 2014 | Reply

  11. Hello! I came home last night from my little jaunt and am just catching up…my opinion, for what it’s worth…Maris Piper would have been lifted quite a while ago.Their storage conditions may have been less dry than usual or the growing conditions, ditto.If the Edwards work, stick with them!And be glad you have more variety than I do! Sebago, Desiree and now something called Mozart (what the???) which looks like a slightly flatter Desiree.

    Comment by dinahmow | May 4, 2014 | Reply

  12. I’ll definitely look into ricers Z!

    I think that’s the sort of thing I was expecting to hear Di. What with the weather having been so wet! We have mozart too – a musical potato! Why?

    Comment by Mig | May 5, 2014 | Reply

  13. Just had my first maris piper mash fail. The potatoes were a new bag but poor quality inside. Never had a problem before with them but they became glue. I think it’s end of season.

    Comment by t | May 17, 2014 | Reply

  14. Thanks for the comment – I hope you’re right t : )

    Comment by Mig | May 19, 2014 | Reply

  15. Re: Marris piper mash. I’ve just done some, a mass of translucent lumps and glue. – Horrible. Only happens with Marris Piper!

    Comment by Alan | January 22, 2017 | Reply

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