Archives for the month of: March, 2012

“Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.” African Proverb

Despite my mother’s best efforts I am not a churchgoer, but I believe there is room for multiple faiths in the world and they should all be respected. One Sunday morning about a year ago I was feeling rather desperate and found myself in a beautiful old church in Times Square (it pre-dates Times Square actually). It helped me in that moment. Whether you have faith in god, karma, Justin Beiber (like an 11-year-old I know), or just yourself, it’s important to maintain perspective in really crap situations. Eff the funk.

These words are used as a mantra by people battling with addiction but they hold true no matter what you find yourself up against. Feel free to write any name in the blank space (Muhammad/God/Mom/Dad/fate/Sparky the dog) or leave it empty.

______ grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

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Sometimes you just need to be silly to get through the day. You know, the whole laugh so you don’t cry thing.

This lil shell is adorable.

There is more where that came from!

One of my roommates lovessss kale. I tease her about it during waking hours and then as soon as she retires to her boudoir I skip into the kitchen to make sautéed kale (olive oil, garlic, onion), kale smoothies (OJ, pear, banana, spinach), baked kale mac n cheese (mac n cheese with a flourish), and kale chips (baked in the oven with olive oil and a pinch of sea salt).

Kale truly is a versatile, easy-breezy kind of gal and she can do so much for you!

♡ She is quite a catch: full of fiber, vitamin C, antioxidants, manganese, iron, calcium, etc.

♡ She is open minded: has no issues mingling with pasta, cheese, other vegetables, or fruit!

♡ She enhances the appearance of those around her: has a high anti-inflammatory rating and is full of antioxidants which both help prevent acne

♡ She never plays hard to get: available in the grocery store most months of the year

♡ She wants a love that lasts past Saturday night: will stay fresh in the fridge for weeks

Here is my friend Laura’s recipe for baked mac n cheese. You can sauté the kale on the side then serve with the mac n cheese or you can stir it into the pasta before adding the bread crumbs and baking in the oven. Here’s the thing: it’s hard to be in a funk when you’re consistently eating whole, healthy foods.

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Ingredients:

2.5 cups dry pasta

2.5 cups whole milk

1 bay leaf

4 tbsp unsalted butter

1/4 cup flour

2.5 cups shredded sharp cheddar

1 cup grated fontina

1 cup grated gruyere

2 bunches of kale

2 cups bread crumbs

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Butter a 2 quart baking dish.

3) Rinse the kale and remove the main stalk. Then tear it into bite size pieces. Set aside.

4) Cook the pasta halfway (approximately 5 minutes).

5) Boil 2.5 cups of milk with the bay leaf. Take it off the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes.

6) Melt 4 tbsp of unsalted butter then whisk in the flour until it foams.

7) Remove the bay leaf and whisk the milk into the butter/flour.

8) Continue to cook the sauce, whisking often, for 5 minutes.

9) Turn off the heat and gradually whisk in the cheese until melted.

10) Add the sauce and kale to the pasta then pour into the baking dish.

11) Sprinkle bread crumbs over the top.

12) Bake until top is browned- about 40 minutes.

13) Put a serving in a to-go container and deliver to my home. Thanks!

I maintain a list of my goals to remind myself the things that I already accomplished and the things that I am working towards in the future. It’s a file on my computer named “Now” (trick yourself into thinking these goals are urgent) and I edit it every few months. Here is a sampling of my current goals:

  • Keep in regular contact with old friends who live out of state
  • Learn Spanish
  • Attend more cheap concerts
  • Perfect my handstand and crow positions in yoga
  • Travel more
  • Start contributing to my 401(k)

Then below that I write a quick action plan for each goal.

  • Call one person a week after I get home from work.
  • Save money from each paycheck to buy Rosetta Stone.
  • Sign up to receive newsletter emails from venues like Le Poisson Rouge and The Living Room.
  • Work on my core strength.
  • Make plans to visit friends who live out of state.
  • 401(k) goal- completed

It might be better to label them as “intentions” instead of “goals” because they aren’t things you aim for and miss. You can start working on them at anytime and deem yourself “successful.” Just by defining your intentions you are closer to fulfillment than when you woke up this morning.

It’s hard to be in a funk when you realize that you have so much to look forward to! Now can someone please push me off the couch so I stop wasting so much time watching The Vampire Diaries? I’m in a Damon coma.

I was on a baking kick this past fall (I have a solid amount of counter space in my kitchen and my roommates love when I bake)*.  I made maple glazed pumpkin pop-tarts with real pumpkin filling for a friend at work for her birthday. (see the amazing Joy the Baker for her recipe)

Our co-worker said, “Oh I wish you could make mashed potatoes for me tonight. My daughter needs to bring them to school for her Thanksgiving dinner and I’ve never made them.”

SERIOUSLY. I mean… seriously? I think she feeds her child those spuds from a box. Not real food.

The fact that a fully-functioning adult thought making mashed potatoes would be difficult and bothersome points to a larger issue we all face. The funk. Some funks last a month and others last for years. You might not even know you are living a funk everyday. True story.

When did you lose your curiosity about the world around you? When did you stop trying new foods? Planning vacations to faraway places? Dreaming about a career change? Asking strangers questions about their lives?

Let’s get the momentum flowing without being too drastic (or righteous). Which aspect of your life is in a funk? No worries. Let’s fix it.

Start by learning how to make mashed potatoes. You can always throw them out if you royally screw the pooch. Not the worst thing ever. The worst thing ever is accidentally pulling a tampon (unused) out of your handbag while riding the subway. I did it but I survived.

Here to help us is Charlotte: a chick who knows the difference between a food processor and a blender. No worries, you don’t need to know that in order to make this recipe. (Side note: I promise to improve my camera/editing skills!)

Mashed Potatoes with Charlotte (eff the funk) from eff the funk on Vimeo.

Video tutorial on making mashed potatoes. Brought to you by the WordPress blog eff the funk.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb large potatoes (any kind: red skin you don’t have to peel off but brown you do)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Q&A with Charlotte

When you make a dish for the first time are there any resources you
use for tips and tricks?

I do a quick Google search (Epicurious and Saveur are two easy go-to websites) – to compare a handful of recipes for the same dish.  I take note of any similarities or differences – specifically cooking time and ingredient proportions – and then make a judgement call as to which one to follow.  Sometimes I will do a combination of 1 or 2 recipes, if I think an element from a different recipe makes more sense.  I tend to do this more with cooking than with baking, since cooking allows for more improvisation than baking, which is quite precise.

How long have you been cooking?

I started cooking very simple pastas and sautee/stir frys for myself when I was in middle school, but I have always helped my parents prepare dinner.  You can pick up a lot just by watching and participating in a very casual way.  I began cooking in earnest when I studied abroad in Scotland for a year, as dining-out options were somewhat limited: high-end modern Scottish cuisine (aka: very expensive) or curry takeaway.  The chippy shop, while appealing at 2AM, wasn’t an option for everyday dining, so I took it upon myself to prepare most of my meals at home.  It helped that my roommates loved to cook; we ended up cooking with and for each other all the time.

Favorite dish to make?

Stews or braises.  Maximum impact with minimal effort.

Any Amelia Bedelia stories about a dish gone awry?

The first time I made pot roast, I didn’t let it braise long enough; the end result was rather tough.  I was nervous about overcooking the meat, but as it turns out the longer you let it simmer, the more tender it becomes.

Next recipe you want to tackle?

Rack of lamb (medium rare meat in my unpredictable oven is quite difficult to control) or paella.

Is it true that you love to fry cheese?

I neither confirm nor deny that (rather leading) statement.

*Actually it’s probably because I’m single and not challenged in my job so I have some free time.