At least part of that brought on by my own bringing of mashed potatoes. I found it very strange when I talked to a couple of people a few years back and found they'd grown up on instant potatoes-- despite having other higher end foods in the house-- real mashed potatoes were apparently too much work. Anyway, I stole my recipe from Alan, and it is pretty simple.
So, a big batch, like I did today consists of an eight pound bag of potatoes. You can certainly work with less and scale it. I usually peel and slide the potatoes into half-inch segments and put them in cold, salted water. Cutting them up, rather than working with the whole potatoes makes them cook more thouroughly in my experience. The water's usually about an inch above the top of the potatoes. I also rinse them pretty well to reduce the loose starch.
Anywa, boil the potatoes until they're pretty soft. Then a minute longer. Drain them well-- I use a mesh colander. While the potatoes are still steaming hot pour them into a big mixing bowl. In the bowl you should already have about two sticks of butter-- sliced into pats and about 2/3rds of a can of your standard Kraft Parmesan cheese. The heat from the potatoes will melt these. Work the potatoes a little with a spatula to distribute the materials and break up the largest chunks. Add cream, maybe half a cup or so to start. Then go at it with a hand mixer. This is why you use a big, big mixing bowl, because it you don't, you get a nice thin line of mashed potatoes over everything. Work the material heavily, use the spatula to move anything that's on the bottom, and add cream as needed to get the creamy consistency people love. Add salt and more butter to taste.
We had Easter over at Sherri's parents where we had five more people than we were expecting. It ended up pretty packed-- the food was excellent. However, because I'm home a lot by myself, I've found being in large, packed groups of people now makes me more uncomfortable than it used to. I mean, I never liked crowds-- but clearly my wound tightedness has certainly increased over the last year. I ate and then went outside and sat and watched the birds work over Sherri's dad's feeders. A genuinely pleasant experience, but it took some time to shake my general anxiety. To tell people who know me precisely how tense I was:
I skipped the cake.