Yes, this is really a recipe for boiled potatoes. My family all laughed at me, but I said not everyone knows how to boil potatoes. So here it goes.
Start with at least one potato per person. If you want to have extra for leftovers, make it at least two per person, and if Ellen is eating with you, even that is no guarantee you'll have any left.
Peel potatoes (get the kids to help) and cut into about 1 inch cubes. Put in a pan and cover with enough water to cover, add a little salt, and turn on high. Cook until boiling. Then turn it down and let it cook for about 20-30 minutes. Test for doneness by poking with a fork. Your potato should be firm, not mushy, not hard. You can always taste it to check.
Your potatoes are done! Drain the potatoes (save the liquid - I'll tell you why next time) and serve.
If you can boil potatoes, you can also make potato salad and mashed potatoes from scratch.
I don't like the German kind, with vinegar. I like the kind with mayonnaise. (Actually, I use Miracle Whip, but use what you like.) So if you're making potato salad, you should probably cut them into smaller chunks. They will not need to cook as long. When your potatoes are done (make SURE they don't get mushy), drain them and rinse them in cold water. You can even boil them in a wire basket until done and then remove the basket and immediately plunge it into ice water. That will speed up the whole thing.
Once your potatoes are rinsed and cooled, add mayonnaise, a little mustard (if you like it - 1 or 2 Tb. is plenty), diced pimientos, chopped boiled eggs, chopped pickles, and a little dill. You can also add sliced olives, bacon bits, whatever. Serve like this or sprinkle a little paprika on top. Refrigerate as soon as you're done.
For this, you need to boil at least two potatoes per person. People always eat more mashed potatoes than boiled potatoes. Prepare the same way as boiled potatoes. Then drain, but don't bother to rinse. Add some butter (2-3 Tb. to start with) to the pan you cooked the potatoes in, then return potatoes. Mash them up as much as you like (Mine are always lumpy, but we like them like that. If you don't, then use a hand mixer). Add some milk to get the consistency you like. Evaporated milk is really good, even half and half, if you don't mind the fat. But regular or soy milk is fine. Just don't use vanilla soy milk. Then put them in the bowl to serve. You can top with grated cheese or gravy if you like, but we just want more butter, salt, and pepper.
Okay, so that may be the most basic recipe I ever post, but I still think someone might find it helpful. When I started out as a cook, I had to figure all this out for myself. Now you can see how easy it is to make real potatoes from scratch, no box or instant potato flakes needed. Potatoes from scratch are cheaper to make, more nutritious, and taste better. Enjoy!