Christy said we could do any meal, any dish with our sage-two-ways challenge. I chose to do no meal in particular. Instead of preparing a breakfast or lunch or dinner or dessert or snack, I just whipped together a pot of mashed potatoes in the middle of the morning for no specific time and no specific purpose. (Except, of course, to be eaten eventually.) This is because sometimes life happens in such a way that you have to do things when you have a minute, and sometimes that minute is when the baby is napping, the pre-schooler is at pre-school, and the Manchild is doing his math worksheet at the table.

But the recipe encourages forward thinking: “Mashed potatoes can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered,” it says. So you say a prayer of thanks and stick that bowl of potatoes in the fridge for later.

This is my way of saying that while I have completed the cooking challenge for the week, nobody has tasted it. Except for the couple of forkfuls I had to make sure it was actually edible. Which it is. Most definitely. The yogurt adds a delightful tang to this sage-y, garlicky, fluffy take on mashed potatoes. And, as you know, I’m always up for delight. It’s one of my favorite things.

Now, before we move on to the recipe, let me remind you that we are to the last week of February. (That’s your cue for another prayer of thanks: we’re almost there! The end is in sight!) And that means we only have one more cooking challenge. Since Christy decided to get all fancy with the spices (er, herbs), I’m going to follow suit (only mine is actually a spice and not an herb): The week 4 challenge is cinnamon. In a drink. So that we can toast the end of the cold and the beginning of the warming season. (I tell myself every day that it is the last cold day and the thermostat’s only going up from here. It keeps me going, even if it’s a blatant falsehood.)

(And, in case you’re wondering, I’ve run 105 miles so far this month. I’m right on track to complete my goal of 140.6 miles.)

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Sage and Garlic Mashed Potatoes adapted from Epicurious.com

For potatoes:

1-2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, minced or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage, crumbled
4 russet potatoes (about 2 pounds)
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

For fried sage leaves:

olive oil for frying
12 whole fresh sage leaves
coarse salt for sprinkling

Make the potatoes: Peel potatoes and quarter. In a large saucepan cover potatoes by 1 inch with salted cold water and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Reserve about 1/3 cup cooking liquid and drain potatoes. While the potatoes are cooking, heat the olive oil in a small sauce pan. Add garlic and simmer until golden. Stir in sage and remove pan from heat. Set aside.

After you’ve drained the potatoes, let them cool slightly, then force through a ricer, the medium disk of a food mill, the large holes on a box grater, or mash them with your potato masher (so many options!!!)  into a bowl. Stir in the yogurt, butter, sage-garlick oil, enough reserved liquid to reach desired consistency, and salt and pepper to taste.

Make fried sage leaves: In a small skillet heat 1/8 inch oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and fry sage leaves, 1 at a time, about 3 seconds, until crisp, transferring with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle sage leaves with coarse salt.

If you don’t serve the potatoes immediately, transfer them potatoes to an ovenproof serving dish. When ready to serve, heat the oven to 350 and bake, uncovered, until heated through (15-20 minutes). Top with fried sage leaves.

Mashed potatoes may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.

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