Smack-Flat Potatoes

October 1, 2012



Any of you who’ve been reading in this space for any length of time probably already know that I’m kind of totally a nervous small dog of a person.

I mean, remember this report card?

Clearly, I haven’t evolved.

The list of things I’m wary of, weirded out by, or flat-out freaked out over is about as long as…I don’t know, the Lewis and Clark expedition?

I don’t know how the cherished people in my life put up with me, but somehow they do, and for that I am grateful.

This past week, I had to go face-to-face with one of my A-List archenemies: The dentist.

I get completely gorked out if I have to go to the dentist. Yes, readers, I am one of those freaks who fears the man in the white coat with a drill in his hand.

In fact, I fear the dentist so much that I hadn’t gone for a check-up in…ahem. How do I say this delicately? Seven years.

I know.

I have very good dental hygeine, so I tell myself that this is enough. I don’t really need to see the dentist annually, do I? I’m a pro flosser. Pro flossers get time off for good habits, don’t they? Okay, maybe seven years is pushing it, but the dentist office is a terrifying place! I’d rather spend time in a morgue than in the dentist chair.

Being the mature adult that I am, I just put it off. Until I got the toothache from Hades, which gave me headaches from Hades, and it became increasingly clear that I was going to have to brave the dentist’s office.

We have a neighbor who is a lovely man and happens to be a dentist–in fact, he’s the Minxes’ dentist–but there was no way I was booking an appointment with him. I see him at the bus stop daily, and the thought of him seeing me every morning and muttering to himself, “Hi there, you freak who hasn’t gone to the dentist in seven years,” was too much to bear.

So I made an appointment with a dentist far enough out of city limits so that I’d never run into her at the grocery store. I also copped to being highly nervous about going to the dentist. I believe I used the term “schizoid.” She promptly prescribed Valium and scheduled my appointment. I liked her already.

There was one leeeetle problem, though. Nervous freaks on Valium can’t drive. So I had to beg Awesome Stepkid Ro to drive me, looped out on Valium, to a dentist out of city limits. To his credit, he didn’t roll his eyes even once. I guess if you’re a nervous small dog, people just get used to you.

It was ugly, folks. I mean, it started out okay. As per directions, I popped my happy pill an hour before my appointment and was quite relaxed on the drive there. I was relaxed when they took x-rays and cleaned up my teeth. And then they told me that, because I am a nervous small dog, I gnash my teeth. I gnash my teeth so hard and so often that I’d cracked both of the crowns on my molars (I got those crowns many moons ago, when I still thought it prudent to consume CornNuts). I also had a cavity.

Ratsratsrats. No way was I going back to the dentist until absolutely necessary, so they went to work. The cavity was the first order of business, but I wasn’t too worried–they’d give me the nitrous oxide and I wouldn’t feel a thing.

Then they took my blood pressure. 181. So much for the soothing powers of Valium. 181=no nitrous oxide. Many needles were stuck into my pie-hole and then the dreaded drill came out, and dangit, it still hurt. Aggg! I gargled, as she was drilling away. More needles. Onto the worst of the crowns, which was of course, at the very back of my mouth. “Can you open any wider?” the dentist kept asking.

My mouth was open so wide I think you could have stuck a fucking cantaloupe in there, so no, I couldn’t open any wider. I’m a people pleaser, though, so I tried. I remained in the Jaws position for what seemed like an eternity. Whoever had put on that old crown had obviously used Crazy Glue, because the dang thing wouldn’t come off, no matter how long she drilled and pulled on the thing. That Valium buzz? Sooo long gone.

Finally, a chunk of the crown cried Uncle. In a renegade move, it flew off at rocket speed and lodged directly in the back of my throat. Gargggghhhh! I cried, eyes watering, and I sat up, trying to hack the offending object out of my throat.

“Aww, we have a gagger,” the dental assistant said compassionately, banging on my back until I could breathe again.

Two-plus hours later, I left the office, temporary crowns in place. Awesome Stepkid Ro took one look at me and wrapped his arm around my torso, walking me out like an invalid. I was given instructions not to chew gum or eat (ha) CornNuts until my permanent crowns come in. The next day, as I shoved a guacamole-laden tortilla chip into my mouth, I felt a Pop! Well hello there, temporary crown, now sitting on my tongue.

Guess where I’m going back this week?

In the meantime, I’m sticking to soft foods, so I don’t dislodge the other temporary sucker hanging out in my mouth. These potatoes almost make it worth it.

Remember how I complained a while back about having side-dish ennui? These are an excellent antidote. Sure, they’re potatoes, but they’re a lovely contrast of textures–creamy on the inside, crunchy (but not CornNut crunchy!) on the outside. It takes a bit of extra effort to make this dish, but it’s not overly taxing, and it’s impressive. Seriously. Serve these guys up and your guest will think you’ve worked some culinary voodoo.

Now about that Valium Salt Lick? Anyone invented it yet?


Smack-Flat Potatoes

slightly adapted from Bon Appetit

serves 6-8

2 pounds medium yukon gold potatoes (about 6 oz. each)

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon herbs de Provence or dried basil

3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


Preheat oven to 350. Wrap each potato individually in foil. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until tender, about an hour.

Cool slightly.

Unwrap potatoes and press down on each one gently with a potato masher to squash. Try to squash them without breaking them apart too badly. Season with salt, pepper and herbs. Drizzle on both sides with the oil and place back on the baking sheet.

Crank the oven heat to 500. Roast potatoes for 15 minutes; gently turn them over and roast until golden, about 20 minutes more.


**If any of you readers have some dorky phobia, please share. It would make me feel so much better!

{ 57 comments… read them below or add one }

Abby October 1, 2012 at 6:56 am

Not fun, my friend. Not fun. I actually like going to the dentist because a) I’m totally OCD and brushing my teeth is one of those things and b) I get a new toothbrush, a water bottle and a parafin wax hand treatment while I’m there (not kidding.) But I have a terrible history with oral surgery and bleeding from my head in that when I had my wisdom teeth pulled, I had to be rushed in for emergency surgery later that day, my head swelled up to the size of a pumpkin (also not kidding) and I missed the last week of school of my senior year. Fun times.

As for other phobias, I can’t think of any right now because I’m flashing back to the awful oral surgery experience (which also happened when I teeth pulled for braces, I might add.) Get well soon!!!


TKW October 1, 2012 at 9:01 am


A pumpkin head? Just reading that made my toes curl.


amber_mtmc October 1, 2012 at 6:57 am


My name is Amber and I am a Nervous Nelly.

I fear crowds of people, bodies of water (even little pools), high places, spiders, closets, and driving. I freak out so much that hyperventilate is my middle name. I once missed a few days in high school because I panicked that I was going to fail a project.

Feel better yet?

Nice to meet you, fellow nervous small dog kind of person.


TKW October 1, 2012 at 9:02 am


Closets? Really. I am intrigued. Did a nasty older sibling ever lock you into one?


Louise October 1, 2012 at 7:24 am

I developed some floaters in my eyes a few months ago, and cried for a week straight, convinced I was going to end up blind because there is NO FREAKING WAY I could have eye surgery if the floaters were signs of retinal detachment. I can barely put mascara on without gagging; no way could I do eye surgery awake and with eyes open.

The floaters reduced greatly once I stopped freaking out about them, and my dad told me almost everyone in the family has them, so it’s more likely to be genetics than blindness. So now I’m not worrying so much, but I’m still nervous about what they’ll say at my next eye exam!


TKW October 1, 2012 at 9:10 am


I have floaters, too! I just noticed them a few months ago and am freaked out about them…but not enough to make me go to the eye doctor. Ahem. Another phobia.


Kristen @ Motherese October 3, 2012 at 11:19 am

Go to the eye doctor! Floaters are usually nothing, but they can be signs of retinal issues and retinal issues can cause blindness.

Your friend who had surgery on both her retinas this summer

P.S. Yes, the surgeries sucked, but blindness would suck worse, I bet.

P.P.S. I am a fellow tooth grinder and just had to have two fillings replaced because I ground my way through them.

P.P.P.S. Those potatoes look amazing.

P.P.P.P.S. I love you, you nervous small dog of a person.


TKW October 3, 2012 at 6:44 pm

Kristen, I knew you would understand.


Katybeth October 1, 2012 at 7:27 am

Sheesh…I don’t mind the dentist but after reading your description I felt like something was wrong with me. My mother is a teeth nut and as a result I grew up using my teeth as a way to rebel against her—“When I grow up, I’m never going to floss.” Anyway, this is about you, one of my dentist told me…”If a dentist hurts you they are doing something wrong and you should end the appointment and reschedule with someone else.” and a dentist performing a root canal told me he wouldn’t charge me if he hurt me. He didn’t beyond a little discomfort. If it hurts–walk.
You were very brave! I hope they gave you a sticker or temp tattoo.


Dana October 1, 2012 at 7:39 am

Valium popsicles or lollipops would be a great idea as well! :P


TKW October 1, 2012 at 9:11 am


Get on that, would you? It’s genius.


Biz October 1, 2012 at 8:10 am

I don’t like the dentist either – and I haven’t been in . . . 10 YEARS! Yep, but like you I brush and floss so I figure I can probably go another 5 until something happens!


TKW October 1, 2012 at 9:11 am


I knew I liked you.


Jody October 1, 2012 at 8:13 am

You and Pasquale need to trade dentist stories. My favorite of his was when they gave him so much laughing gas he threw up on their new carpet and they got mad at him for it. Maybe you should give him the name of this valium person.


TKW October 1, 2012 at 9:12 am


That is so good! I love it! You need to come to dinner soon so I can make Pasquale tell me every awkward detail. You know how I love awkward.


Jenna October 1, 2012 at 10:49 am

If it’s any comfort, I haven’t been to the dentist since I was on my parents’ insurance during college (2004). So it’s been 8 years for me . . . yup.


TKW October 1, 2012 at 1:31 pm


I feel better already.


Justine October 1, 2012 at 11:40 am

You. Crack. Me. Up. What a way to start the week! (Well, for me anyway). Like you, I have decent teeth so I go every once in five years. Ahem. It’s not the fear. Mostly laziness, and now, the lack of dental insurance. But I try to be better with my kids because the jury’s still out on whether they have my teeth (very good), or their dad’s teeth (very bad). Until we know for sure, I’m not taking my chances!

And what a way to introduce potatoes for cryin’ out loud. That recipe looks great, but your story adds so much more flavor to it than even the herbs de Provence.


TKW October 1, 2012 at 1:34 pm


Maybe you should come out here and we’d have a Valium and a martini and then go to the dentist. I’m sure they’d be so glad to see us.


Erica October 1, 2012 at 12:37 pm

I’ve managed to crack two teeth (at different times) on corn tortillas. Not even chips! Just warm tortillas with the slight crunch to the rim.

I’m currently boycotting the dentist for underestimating the nastiness of the infection in my jaw earlier this year. The tooth eventually had to be pulled and I’m still making payments on the root canal he did on the now missing tooth. I’m finding a new dentist before I even consider an implant.

My weird phobias… snakes, clowns, eyeballs, and knee caps. So in my old age I will go blind and never, ever have knee replacement surgery.


TKW October 1, 2012 at 1:35 pm


You must elaborate on eyeballs. xo


Erica October 1, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Eyeballs are oogey.

Just saying that makes my stomach churn and skin crawl. That’s all the elaboration you will get.


Phoo-d October 1, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Awesome Stepkid R is really growing into his name! I’m not a big fan of dentists either but after eons in mouth adjusting hardware and braces I eventually got used to it on some level. Crowns suck. Those potatoes on the other hand look fantastic! I’m totally going to give that recipe a try.


TKW October 1, 2012 at 1:47 pm


I am the official queen of Crowns (not the jeweled kind). I think the 5-year eating disorder played a starring role in the evaporation of my teeth. Happily, we are past those years.
These potatoes are awesome! (oh wait, I am taking a humor writing class and there are quite vitriolic objectors to the term “awesome.”) So I guess I will say that they are good. Even with the shitty photograph.
I love you and need a new picture of our girl!


ayala October 1, 2012 at 2:11 pm

I feel you…I am also fearful of the dentist…and tomorrow I have an appointment for a root canal :( You are very funny though. I’ll be thinking of you when I am in the chair. :)


TKW October 1, 2012 at 8:58 pm


Valium Salt Lick?


keishua October 1, 2012 at 2:16 pm

i’m totally not a fan of the denist but a total fan of potatoes. those look amazing.


faemom October 1, 2012 at 2:26 pm

I hadn’t been to the dentist For.Ev.Er. too. Mine was more like life. First I didn’t have dental. Then I had a job with a crappy sceduling but great dental. And then I didn’t have dental. And then I knew it would be bad. So I didn’t go. I knew it was going to be bad. So I didn’t go. Finally after my father threatened to pay, I went. It was like confession. Two cavities. Of course, I don’t have dental. I looked at the price and thought I’ll be back when this actually hurts or when I have the money and/or dental insurance. So yeah. Hmm. I think I just overshared.
Soooo. About those potatoes. Sean is totally into baked portatoes. I’ll have to make this dish.


TKW October 1, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Your cavities don’t hurt? I am jealous. If I get one, it pulsates like a bad, aggressive drum.


suzicate October 1, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Oh my, you poor thing! You can put that temporary back on with some fix-a-dent or even a dab of vaseline will suction it. I used to be an office manager for a dentist and that’s what the assistant used to tell patients.


TKW October 1, 2012 at 9:06 pm

They told me–if it came loose– to attach it with gum or toothpaste, but alas, I was so ardent in my guacamole and chip eating that I sorta chewed up the temporary crown.


Contemporary Troubadour October 1, 2012 at 5:26 pm

I am so sorry you’re having dental trauma. I don’t fear the dentist, but I’ve also never had to have major work done while conscious. For my wisdom teeth, I was out cold for the entire extraction. If they ever have to pull any other teeth, I think I’d rather they put me in la-la land so I don’t have to remember it. (And then there’s my husband, who had his wisdom teeth out under local anesthesia and then went back to work the same afternoon. WTF?!?)

My phobia? Latex balloons. The kind they used to hand out at the mall during the holidays, the kind you pop with darts on the midway at the fair to win stuffed animals, the kind you got asked to sit on in balloon-popping relay races in kindergarten. The kind clowns named Mr. Rainbow employed in making balloon animals at every kid’s birthday party in my home town circa 1984 but ended up popping in your three-year-old face (by accident, but still …). I still can’t walk past a kid with a balloon without shielding the ear closest to him/her and scooting like a nervous cat for maximum distance just in case the balloon should explode. Luckily, earplugs make all the difference, so I wear them when I know I have to be around these little devices of torture, but I’d rather the phobia didn’t exist.


TKW October 1, 2012 at 9:13 pm

This is exactly why I think you are one of the funniest people I know. Just reading about the latex phobia had ne in stitches.


Jamie October 1, 2012 at 5:29 pm

POOR YOU! The dentist sucks balls, no two ways about it. My embarrassing phobia: chair lifts. Unfortunately I didn’t know about this phobia until AFTER I agreed to go snowboarding with my then-new boyfriend. I was all psyched to get on a mountain for the first time, then I got on the chair lift and had a panic attack. Not the cute kind either. The goggles full of tears, snot-nosed, wracking sob kind. I was so petrified that I may or may not have taken 3 hours to get 1/4 of the way down the mountain, and then I unbuckled my board and let it fly down without me. Apparently that’s frowned upon in the snowboarding world. Jerks.


TKW October 2, 2012 at 6:37 am


I hate chairlifts, too. My sister would torture me by (violently) rocking the chair back and forth while we were in the air. I was certain death was imminent.


Heather October 1, 2012 at 7:31 pm

And I thought it was bad that I haven’t been to the dentist in a year and a half! I keep finding excuses why I can’t make an appointment. Really it’s that I know that I’ve been gone so long that they are bound to find something wrong and it will cost me pain and money.
Wacky fear??? I don’t do well riding in a car that someone else is driving. It’s a total control thing. I know it but I can’t, won’t, don’t… pick your word. Either way, I don’t let other people drive me unless I’m dying. Kudos to you for letting Awesome Stepkid Ro drive you. I don’t know that my boys will ever get to chauffeur me around town! My honey barely gets to!


The Meaning of Me October 1, 2012 at 7:58 pm

OK, I love your blog. You know I do. But this was quite possibly the worst thing to read when I have a dentist appointment in three days to replace a broken crown! Holy hell! I am an honest dentist-goer – every six months like clockwork. But when I had the root canal from hell, it was a horrifying experience. So bad I have blocked it out. Seriously. Can’t remember it except for the terror when that mouth dam or whatever it’s called came at me. I either blacked out or they drugged me to get me to stop freaking out about the fact that I was terrified because they never gave me the orientation video explaining what they’d be doing with all those needles and drills inside my face. Anyway…said crown is now broken (thank you once again to an unpopped popcorn) and this week it gets fixed.

But my actual bizarre phobia? That would be bugs. Anything with more legs than a dog makes me break out in a cold sweat and hyperventilate.

I would rather go to the dentist.

Hope your mouth is feeling better!


TKW October 2, 2012 at 6:39 am


Damn, that was bad timing, wasn’t it? I’m sorry about that and wish you a much better experience. Valium?


The Meaning of Me October 2, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Yes, maybe. It’s either that or stare at my hideously disfigured middle finger to take my mind off the crown thing…that might work. Of course, the dentist may think I am giving her the bird which may make it a more entertaining experience for everyone.


idiosyncratic eye October 2, 2012 at 12:58 am

I don’t do the dentist either. I’m not a gagger, I had to confess to being a biter instead. You don’t get as much sympathy. Have fun with the next round. ;)


Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes October 2, 2012 at 5:06 am

Ok, you are going to hate me because I have the most perfect set of teeth imaginable. Never a cavity, never a problem (not counting the half fake-tooth at the front, I lost a bit of tooth falling down some stairs… drunk… ok dead-drunk happy now), straight and white.
I do however have an irrational fear of heights. I’m talking afraid-to-get-on-the-ikea-stepladder-irrational here…
And I fear worms. The slimey, white kind which lives in the ass of my cat and its slightly fatter brother which comes to live in my trash when the weather turns to warm. They disgust me beyond belief and I have been know to scream bloody murder whenever I see them. And yes, we deworm the cat on a regular basis, but alas, the beast is a hunter and will eat dead bunnies by the dozen.


TKW October 2, 2012 at 6:41 am


Worms are bad but butt worms? Horrifying!

And has your cat been stalking around my yard? We have had several be-headed bunnies strewn around this summer and fall…


Arnebya October 2, 2012 at 7:05 am

I’m glad you finally went in (one cavity after 7 years ain’t bad). Awesome Stepkid Ro was just as awesome as ever. Also, mmmmmmm Valium. Your pressure at 181 was too low to get the gas?

My phobia used to be the dentist but after all I went through I finally now can just say screw it, gimme a shot and get to work. (I wear headphones to drown out the drill. That sound still gives me the willies). Now, though? Stairs. I have an irrational fear of falling down stairs (and an equally irrational fear of others falling down stairs). If I see you coming down, I will look away, then hurriedly look back because I should help when you fall (not if! I know you’re going down!). This is of course much worse on the boy who, at 3, has a tendency to be an ass around the stairs. Here’s the kicker, though: if there is an escalator option instead of stairs, I choose the stairs even though I know my vertigo (which I don’t really have) is going to kick in and I’m going to tumble down. I’d much rather crack my head open without the possibility of my hair becoming entangled in fast moving escalator jaws. And yes, there have been times when I’ve waited at the mall elevator for upwards of 30 minutes just to avoid either stationary stairs or escalators.


TKW October 2, 2012 at 10:01 am


Escalators give me the willies, too. I always think I’ll get a shoelace stuck in them or something and then fall over when trying to get off.

181 was WAY high, so they wouldn’t give me the gas for “health reasons.” Pffft.


Anonymous October 2, 2012 at 8:42 am

You brave girl! I’m so proud of you for enduring this, and of Awesome Ro too!


amanda {the habit of being} October 2, 2012 at 8:45 am

i would share my rather extensive list of phobias, pet peeves, and hang ups with you but i’m afraid you’d block me from ever commenting on your blog again. it’s really all one list as all these things, phobias, pet peeves, and hang ups, all sorta mingle together and breed and create more issues, and the list, well extensive really doesn’t do it justice. truth. i’m a ball of fun!


TKW October 2, 2012 at 10:02 am


I love a girl with some issues!


Brandy October 2, 2012 at 8:47 am

I feel you!! I dislike the dentist and haven’t been in years…I’m sure I’ll regret my first visit back (which I know will be coming up soon) but after my last visit (when I was 22) which turned into a mini dental soap opera I figured I deserved a vacation from the dentist. I had a cavity…a little cavity. The dentist did his drilling and filling, bam boom all done. Well, apparently he didn’t fill it correctly (his words) because it continued to decay. I went back and they determined I now needed a root canal….. So we did the root canal. No temporary crown or anything but he said I would need a crown. This is about the time we were restationed so the dentist said I would have to find a new dentist after the move and get it done. Well lets just say after the move it wasn’t top of my priority list. A few weeks later I dropped a bottle and thought it was going to smash so I tensed up and heard a small pop and felt quite a bit of pain. So I set 0ut to find a dentist. 1st dentist determined I need another root canal but he didn’t do those so I needed to find someone else… 2nd dentist determined I needed a root canal but they didn’t do those either but they would get me to someone who did. I went to dentist #3, they did the 2nd root canal, the numbing stuff wore off on the way home and I was in excrutiating pain. I called dentist #3 back and they determined I needed to see the oral surgeon, we’ll call him dentist #4. I went to him, they determined it would be easier to pull the tooth since they weren’t sure what was causing the pain, I told them I didn’t care whatever would stop the pain. They pulled the tooth and discovered it was cracked along the bottom between the roots as to why it didn’t show in all the xrays. They wanted me to come back for an implant and that requires surgery, and needles and pain. I determined it is the last tooth back on the left…no one will ever see that…I’m good. I haven’t been back to the dentist since…I’m now 36. But I floss! :)


TKW October 2, 2012 at 10:02 am


You have me beat. That’s a horrific tale!


Velva October 2, 2012 at 7:13 pm

I don’t even know where to begin my comments….Okay, okay, dentists FREAK ME OUT TOO! Valium? There is not enough they could give me. I settle for the wand ( electronic baby needles and nitrous, way up high and that’s for basic dental work. I am too embarrassed to write what they have to do to me to make to do more sophisticated work-UGH!

Hey the smashed potatoes they rock, We experience this style of potatoes in Oregon and it was the best roasted potatoes i ever ate with my eggs. I tried to replicate then a few times at home. They were but not as good as the restaurant in Oregon.

Take care.


Tiffany October 3, 2012 at 11:58 am

Poor Kitch! :( I gag too at the dentist…and last time i had “the gas” I started laughing hysterically in the middle of my procedure. I am really afraid of car washes…is that weird enough? :) And flying…but that’s not weird.

I hope you’re feeling better…


Robin October 3, 2012 at 8:10 pm

I too, am afraid of car washes :) It is very claustrophobic, a little dark, and very creepy.


Robin October 3, 2012 at 8:07 pm

We are kindred spirits when it comes to the dentist. Valium? YES! Nitrous oxide? Don’t come near me without it – even for a cleaning. I floss like crazy. I brush with a Sonicare. I haven’t been to the dentist – well – let’s say it has been too long. But, I am working up the courage. Really. I have been psyching myself up to make the phone call for the past month. If I could just get my finger to dial the number…


TKW October 4, 2012 at 11:58 am


It is very hard to get that finger to move, isn’t it?


Naptimewriting October 4, 2012 at 12:18 am

You’re so freaking cute.

As will likely not surprise you, I’m not so much afraid of things as go in looking for a fight. Hate most dentists because my dad is one and I know a charlatan from a doc. And some DDS will lie to get you to do stuff you don’t need. I try to trick them to see if they’re honest.
Ditto teachers, principals, politicians, grocers, restauranteurs, mechanics, attorneys…I’m a pit bull, not a scaredy cat.
So bring me to your next appt. I’ll be your enforcer.


TKW October 4, 2012 at 11:57 am


I would love an enforcer. But I’d love it so much that I’d never let you leave.


Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri October 9, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Ugh Kitch! The dentist spooks me too. Just went in for a cleaning and I need to get some fillings. On second thought, maybe I will wait…:)


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