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.

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