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I don't know What was going on with my taste buds the other day, but I ended up with two bowls in front of me: one of hot mashed potatoes, and one of cold cottage cheese. Lo, I had been innocently eating my potatoes, but the warm, peppery, sour-creamy goodness cried out for more dairy! More! (I am never getting osteoporosis.) CHEESE! Not the block of bulk factory cheddar traditionally shredded and melted over your baked potato, but COTTAGE CHEESE! This is how I ended up layering my fork over and over with hot potato and cool, sharp cheese. I did not melt it; I did not mix it; I did not pervert it in any way. I ate the full two bowls, and fell over in my chair to submit to a nap of happiness.

You may ask, What the fuck is up with her?

That is an excellent question. The fuck that is up is that this combination is stupidly good.

I remember reading a story out of one of the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books when I was little. In said story, the kid would not eat his oatmeal without pouring it FULL of sugar and cream and mixing it to absolute death before wolfing it down in a completely revolting manner. "Watch it, kid", said Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, and showed him how to layer hot oatmeal with cool cream and a gentle sprinkle of sugar. And the kid slid his spoon reasonably gently through the oatmeal, keeping the layers more or less intact, and he raised it to his mouth. The oatmeal was hot and hearty and whole-grained and full, and the cream was cool and lovely and sweet and smooth, and it was good.

I find the same principle applies here, albeit in a much more savory manner. Hot mashed potatoes taste great on their own, but they are really just whipped starch. They don't have much nutritional value, just the obvious virtue of filling up your stomach on next to no money. So if your body needs actual nutrients, you might think to add things like cheese. Most people would go straight for the cheddar, letting it melt and meld into the potatoes; I go for the cottage cheese. I find it adds a nice complex dimension to the potatoes. The cheese is cool and tangy, perfectly complimenting the sour cream. In its separate bowl, its maintains its structural integrity and temperature. It holds its own curdy texture and clean creaminess against the soft, hot fluff of the potatoes. And it is good.

For one person, you need:

Quarter your potatoes and set them on to boil until soft. Depending on size, they may take up to 45 minutes or so. When you can sink a fork into them with no resistance, take the pan off the heat and pour off the hot water. Peel your chunks of potato; the peels should just slip off at this point. Put the potato chunks back in the pan, add a couple pats of butter, and mash it all up with a fork or potato masher. When the butter is fully melted and integrated, add a splash of milk and/or a spoonful of sour cream, plus salt and pepper to taste, and mash it all some more. The dairy will give the potatoes a nice creamy texture. Mash for a minute or two, then dump into a bowl to serve.

The cottage cheese is easy: just stick it in a second bowl and add a fork.

To eat, you can either alternate forkfuls from each bowl, or fill half the fork with cottage cheese and the other half with potatoes. While this isn't traditional comfort food of the hot-tuna-casserole-cold-milk-a-blanket-and-a-book school, I find it meets most of my personal criteria. It's plain and hearty and filling and delicious, and encourages napping on a rainy afternoon.

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