Hope all of you had your fill of turkey (or whatever you fill your tummy with on Thanksgiving) this past weekend. For the last several years we’ve enjoyed our Dear Friend Ruthie’s cooking, complete with F.N. Brussels sprouts. Didn’t get those last year, so this time around my Beautiful Girlfriend made it a point to put her dibs in for F.N. Brussels sprouts. Tradition is important you know!
Before Lew, Ruthie’s hubby, passed away, Thanksgiving would migrate depending on whose turn it was. I’d cook one year, then Ruthie the next, and so on. The last year Lew was alive, he noticed I had a pot with Brussels sprouts on the stove. “Ken,” he said, “I see you’re making Brussels sprouts.” “Yes, “ I replied, “you like Brussels sprouts, Lew??” “F*@# NO!!” he exclaimed, at which point all of us laughed very bigly. So ever since that day, we celebrate Thanksgiving at our Dear Friend Ruthie’s house, and every year (except last year) she made some sort of dish with Brussels sprouts. Because her grandkids would often come to dinner, they became known as F.N. Brussels sprouts. We don’t want to pollute the little ones any sooner than life will!!
So because we really love turkey, I cook up a “Thanksgiving” dinner a few days later. Our son, our daughter, son in law, and their two boys help us devour a turkey dinner with all the trimmings. This has become a tradition that includes putting up the Christmas tree. I love to cook, and I also love to grow good things to eat. So this year, instead of regular mashed potatoes, I’m making Maus (pronounced “mouse”). And since I like to be different, this year’s Maus will be blue. It can’t be helped, you see… I grew Adirondack Blue potatoes; and they are blue inside and out! Not sure, but I have a feeling Mrs. Spoelma might get a kick out of blue Maus.
God bless Mrs. Spoelma, the “Hollander” (Michigan term for Dutch) lady who lived next door to us when we first moved to Muskegon. She and her husband were often outside in the yard, and we’d have many a conversation across the fence. That was 39 years ago (wow!!), and one couldn’t ask for nicer neighbors.
When our daughter came into the world, she started bringing us food. Most often, she brought an odd mashed potato dish we’d never had before. “This is Maus,” she said when she brought over the first batch. “It’s an old family recipe: mashed potatoes, kale, and barley. Oh and a little bit of onion, too.” It was simply wonderful. Perfect food for a couple of tree huggers with a brand new baby. Free food is always pretty doggoned perfect if you ask me; especially when it’s delicious. “Maus” is not merely wonderful as a side dish for meat and another vegetable, maybe even some gravy. It is especially yummy the following day, reheated with an over easy egg or two on top. MMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
When I first wrote about Maus a few years ago I scoured the web for a recipe that resembled this remarkable dish. No such luck. After many variations of the words potato, mashed, kale, barley, and Dutch, I found several interesting cooking ideas but nothing that resembled what our dear Mrs. Spoelma made. After a little trial and error, I think I’ve been able to replicate the flavor pretty closely.
Because it’s so doggoned yummy, I feel it’s my duty to share the basics with you. I love to cook but I rarely follow any recipe exactly. Mouse is no exception; but without further ado here is a rudimentary description. Try this and alter the quantities of barley, kale, and onions to your liking next time.
Maus: Delicious Mashed Potatoes, Kale, Barley and Onion
Potatoes : enough to fill a 6 quart pot a bit more than halfway when diced
Barley: ½ cup hulled barley (pearled barley is OK but not as nutritious as hulled)
Kale: 3 – 4 tightly packed cups, chopped
Onions: one large onion or 4 or 5 small onions, diced
½ stick of salted butter
½ cup of milk
salt to taste
Potatoes, barley, and kale will be cooked in separate pots.
Add more than enough water to the barley to cover, at least 2 inches higher than the barley. Boil the barley until tender, then drain, cover and set aside.
Add 1 cup water to the kale, and cover. Bring to boil, remove from heat after 2 or 3 minutes boiling. Toss the onions in with the kale and cover again, let that sit for about 5 minutes. The heat will cook the onions just enough. Drain, then set aside.
Wash and dice enough potatoes to fill a 6 quart pot a bit more than half way (we leave the skins on). Fill with water till the potatoes are barely covered, and boil until tender, drain. Add butter and mash, adding milk and a dash or so of salt along the way. When the potatoes are creamy, add barley, kale and onions to the potatoes and mash together until mixed thoroughly. OK, you’re done! Now, don’t just stand there, it’s time to eat!!
By the way, this has nothing to do with Mouseketeers…