Chuck Terrill: Twice baked potatoes
“I Would Rather Go to Long John Silvers.”
That's what I told my wife. Long John Silvers is my least favorite place to eat. But, if given an option between my least favorite restaurant and our annual Sweetheart Banquet at church, I would opt for Long John Silvers.
I served fourteen years in my previous church. Every year it was the same — a potluck dinner for couples on St. Valentine's Day. The married couples in the church would attend. There would be a half-hearted program. I really would rather have not attended, but I was the pastor of the church, after all.
“This year is going to be different,” Mary said. “I am in charge of the food this year. We are going to have the banquet at Nancy's house, and her husband, Frank, is going to grill the steaks.”
“OK” I said. “Steak sounds better than spaghetti and meatballs.”
“Now, I have to go over to Nancy's to decorate and set up the tables,” Mary responded. “While I am gone, I want you to wash these potatoes. There are going to be forty couples there, for sure. I want you to wash these potatoes, and then rub them with Crisco. Then wrap them in these foil sheets. See?”
Mary proceeded to show me how to do it.
“It is going to take forever to do one hundred potatoes like that!” I whined.
“Just do it!” she snapped. “You can use this green scritchy thing to wash the potatoes, and it will go quicker. I will be back in two hours and I will put them in the oven.” Then she left.
I had a hundred other things to do that seemed far more exciting than washing a hundred large potatoes. I did two. And then, I noticed our state of the art, stainless, shiny steel dishwasher.
“That will work great!” I said aloud, and silently congratulated myself on being so smart.
I loaded up all those potatoes. It was amazing how well they fit in the top and lower racks; almost like the racks had been created for potatoes! I closed the door and contemplated the settings. I didn't run the dishwasher very often, Mary wouldn't let me. So, it took me a little while to consider all those settings.
“I want them to be clean,” I thought. So, I pushed the button that said “Heavy Wash.”
Next, I pushed “Hot.” “I do want them to be clean,”
I then selected “Pot Scrubber.” I also pushed the button that said “Dry.”
“What the heck,” I thought, as I pushed the button that read “Steam Sanitize.” “I really do want them to be clean.”
I pushed “Start,” and went outside to work on my 1963 Impala. When I came back into the house, I smelled potatoes. They smelled good. I opened the dishwasher door, and the steam rolled out in my face. When the fog cleared, I was confronted with an amazing sight! Those potatoes were a brilliant white! I had put them in brown, but now they were white.
I picked a potato up, but it was so hot, I immediately dropped it. One of the rack prongs skewered it. I had to track down Mary's oven mitt to remove those potatoes. Some of them still had a little bit of skin hanging on them, but it immediately dropped off when I picked them up. Those spuds would be twice baked!
Looking at the clock, I knew I had to hurry before Mary came home. She would never know what I had done once I got them covered with the aluminum foil. I got them all out of the dishwasher and up on the counter top to cool. The kitchen was hot, and I soon worked up a sweat greasing and wrapping those spuds!
I had about ten potatoes to go when Mary returned. “My goodness!” she exclaimed. “How did you get those potatoes so clean?”
“Uh, I used the green skritchy thing,” I answered. It wasn't a total lie, because I had done two potatoes the way I had been instructed.
“Well, I didn't expect you to work up a sweat doing this,” she said as she noticed the perspiration on my forehead.
“You know me,” I said. “It's all or nothing.”
The potatoes received rave reviews, by the way. No one had ever had a baked potato that had the skin removed. I was quite pleased with myself. I didn't sense a need to tell people that they had been steam cleaned and then baked.
The next day, however, Mary came to me with a clump of brown stuff in her hand. “What is this gunk in my dishwasher? she asked.
“What is that?” I looked at the pile of potato skins in her hand.
“You washed those potatoes in my dishwasher, didn't you? Chuck! I thought my potato tasted like Cascade!”
“Next time use more sour cream.” I said.
“There better not be a 'next time,’” she said.
“Don't worry,” I said. “Next year, we are going to Long John Silvers.”
“You can be sure your sins will always find you out.” (Numbers 32.23).
Chuck Terrill, who has doctorates from Master Theological Seminary and Trinity Seminary, is the senior minister at First Christian Church in Cassville. He may be reached at 471-847-2460.