Potato magic

I was entertained by Emmet Meara’s Nov. 8 BDN column about his struggle with mashed potatoes. Being male and Irish, I share his passion. Mashed potatoes have been thought to have psychoactive properties — so much so that consumption of them has been used, unsuccessfully, as a defense to crime. I know that they have magical properties. Just try to remember a time when the best serving bowl was piled high with mashed potatoes that wasn’t magical.

The root of Meara’s difficulty was an all-too-common misunderstanding of the word mashed.

They’re mashed potatoes, not mixed or blended. Pick up a potato masher in any grocery store. They have a handle and either sturdy wires or a perforated disc on the other end and look like something you could mash with. People use a mixer because they think it’s easier, but getting the mixer out, plugging it in and cleaning it up is far more work than 30 seconds of mashing.

Peel and rinse 10 or so Yukon gold potatoes. Boil in an old pot — one you can mash in — until a fork goes in easily. Drain, add a half-stick of real butter, a dash of real milk and a good charge of salt and pepper — garlic salt, if you’re adventurous — and then mash until smooth. If too dry, add more milk, mash again, then taste and add more butter and salt, as you like. A young boy is the best taster. After they have gone into the warmed serving bowl, fill the pot with water and throw in the masher before you sit down. Clean up is a snap.

Slainte!

Mark A. Perry

Eddington

Expand health care access

I fully support Hancock County’s Project HOPE, which Sen. Brian Langley discussed in his Oct. 30 BDN OpEd. This type of program seeks help and treatment for persons with opioid addictions rather than criminal prosecutions. It began in Massachusetts, where 97 percent of residents have health insurance coverage. When everyone is insured, hospitals and clinics are protected from having to absorb the costs of unreimbursed care, strengthening their ability to provide emergency treatment for victims of the rapidly growing opioid crisis.

Unfortunately, Langley did not mention his crucial vote in Augusta against a bill to accept federal funds for extending the MaineCare insurance program. Republicans, including Langley, kept the Senate from the two-thirds vote required to override Gov. Paul LePage’s veto. So he helped create a deep health care hole for tens of thousands of Maine residents whose incomes are too low to qualify for insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.

It sad that long-term treatment options are so limited in Maine. Project HOPE will spend much of its time begging out-of-state facilities to provide free treatment to Maine residents, with limited success. The state should act promptly to help create such facilities. Please, make sure your representatives in Augusta believe in and vote for such investments in the health and safety of Maine residents.

Bill Skocpol

Mount Desert

Honor our veterans

Please honor our veterans on Friday. It is my hope and prayer that our new president will put a halt to our nation-building and stop meddling in other sovereign countries and overthrowing rulers. We have hundreds of military bases in countries all over the world. It is time to pull back and prioritize or strategy.

When we expend too much on our misguided endeavors prompted by war-lovers who sit back and pull the strings, it’s time for a radical change.

Frank Slason

Somerville