Saturday, November 27, 2010

Recipe: Outstanding Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes done right
Mashed potatoes are the perfect complement to roasted chicken or turkey (provided of course that there's gravy). But don't leave your mashed potatoes to chance.

The difference between a good meal and a great meal often comes down to whether the side dishes got as much attention as the main course.  This recipe ensures that your mashed potatoes will stand on their own without gravy. Add gravy, and you leave the realm of the side dish and enter the realm of the sublime...

The three most common problems with mashed potatoes are:

1) Under-cooking the potatoes
2) Under-seasoning the potatoes
3) Under-mashing the potatoes

This recipe tackles these issues head-on, in order.


  • 3 pounds russet potatoes (about 6-8 potatoes)
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 3/4 tablespoon coarse kosher salt (or a little less than 1/2 tablespoon of table salt)
  • 1 cup milk

Peel your potatoes, and then cut them roughly into 2-inch thick sections. Place the potato sections into a large stainless steel pot, and fill the pot with water until the potatoes are fully covered. Place the potatoes over high heat to boil.

Once they come up to a boil, you may need to turn down the heat a tad so they don't boil over. Boil the potatoes until they are soft, which will likely take about 45 minutes (depending on exactly how thick you cut them). When a fork goes easily into the center of the thickest potato section (and before they begin to fall apart) they're done.

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Drain the potatoes of water using a colander, and consider reserving the potato water for use in gravy. Place the potatoes back in the pot you boiled them in (removed from heat), and add the stick of butter.

Once the butter has melted, add the seasonings and milk. Mash the potatoes for a good 3-4 minutes until smooth.

While the above seasoning guidelines do a pretty good job on 3 pounds of potatoes, if you used more than 3 pounds... you'll need more of everything.

Always taste your food before you serve it!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Article: Microwave Popcorn... the Cat's out of the Bag

A few years back, a phenomenon known as "Popcorn Lung" began making headlines. A flavoring chemical called diacetyl (used to simulate the taste of butter) was causing workers who manufacture microwave popcorn and butter flavorings to get a rare and serious disease called bronchiolitis obliterans (as in, "your lungs have been obliterated").

In one case, a two-bags-a-day microwave popcorn consumer also contracted popcorn lung. In response to the bad press, many manufacturers began removing diacetyl from microwave popcorn.

Now, a new (but strangely familiar) threat has surfaced. PFOA (or perflourooctanoic acid) is a known carcinogen that is used in the manufacture of Teflon and other non-stick cookware. As it turns out, it is also used in fast food wrappers, paper plates, and microwave popcorn bags. This cancer-causing chemical used in food packaging appears to be making its way into the food itself.

In addition to causing cancer, there's mounting evidence that PFOA and other PFC's (perflourinated compounds) may be leading to fertility problems.

Heard enough?  Me too.

Wondering what to do about it? You can start by making your popcorn in a good old fashioned dutch oven. It's healthier, free of synthetic chemicals, and tastes a whole lot better.

I have recipes for making popcorn in an enameled dutch oven as well as in a regular dutch oven, and just posted a video recipe for dutch oven popcorn to help people who are new to dutch oven popcorn-making.

Go ahead... take charge of your family's health today. And don't forget to stop by the blog and leave a comment if you have any questions. Thanks!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Recipe: Dutch Oven Popcorn (Video)

While I've covered dutch oven popcorn using bare cast iron and enameled cast iron, folks have asked to see the finer points of the method by video. So here you go!