I mentioned to my doctor not long ago that I was beginning to feel like a 1950 Oldsmobile. “Oh, wait, I really am a ‘50 Olds,” I said. Fortunately, my dear doc gets me and she laughed but we both knew exactly what I was talking about.

I won’t go into the obvious analogy of rusty springs and shot shocks or even that the paint has lost its luster but I will say that I am feeling the effects of aging and while I’m pretty comfortable in my skin — embracing silver hair and not worrying about too much about an additional wrinkle — I’m still none too thrilled about some issues. For instance, while sitting on the deck over the weekend enjoying a gin and tonic, I reached for a few peanuts, popped them in my mouth and cried out in pain. I had bit down on a molar that I had been babying for months and felt the crack. Now I had become the second half of troubling dental issues that have plagued the Lawsons for weeks. Fortunately, we have a wonderful dentist.

Suffice to say, soft food has been the staple for a while but that doesn’t mean I have to stick to pudding and polenta for sustenance (although both have appeal). In fact, I hate to admit it but I have embraced the challenge of making a hearty meal that doesn’t require a great deal of masticating.

For instance, dishes such as mashed potatoes get a real boost from the fresh crop of chives and basil that are thriving in the garden. I served it with some sustainable barramundi fillets and we managed to nibble a wonderful meal. The original recipe calls for using heavy cream but I cut that to half & half and/or whole milk. I just couldn’t justify the additional fat after a whole stick of butter. Still, it tasted so good I didn’t care. The fat I wasn’t getting from that ribeye I’ve been dreaming of was the trade-off.

Red Potato Mash with Basil and Chives

Recipe adapted from Food Network and Dave Lieberman.

2 pounds red-skinned new potatoes

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup half-and-half or whole milk

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter

A small handful chopped fresh chives (about 3 tablespoons)

A small handful roughly chopped basil leaves (about 2 1/2 tablespoons)

Put the potatoes in a medium saucepan and pour in enough cold water to cover them by a couple of inches. Toss in a handful of salt. Bring the water to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender when poked with a knife, about 25 minutes.

Drain the potatoes and return to the pan. Add the half-and-half and butter and let the whole pot sit over very low heat until warmed through.

Add chives and basil to the pot with the potatoes and mash the potatoes coarsely. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 6.

Per serving: 333 calories; 24 g fat (15 g saturated fat; 65 percent calories from fat); 28 g carbohydrates; 3 g sugar; 71 mg cholesterol; 259 mg sodium; 3 g protein; 3 g fiber.

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