A Comprehensive Guide to Mashed Potatoes

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There aren’t any universally recognized poems about the night before Thanksgiving. I’m not going to write one, but someone should. Let’s take a minute to visualize together. It’s Thanksgiving morning, the parade is on in the background, maybe some of your kids are still asleep, maybe they’ve been awake for hours. If you’ve followed my advice up to this point, your turkey is on lock. (If you haven’t listened to the podcast on how to cook your turkey you can find it here.) For the intermediate cooks in the class I’ve provided fantastic recipes from Sara and Matt which you can find here and here. This brings us to mashed potatoes. …

Matt Chapman aka @chapymattbbq bringing the heat and the sweet

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Back in April, bored out of my mind and unemployed I convinced my wife I needed a Traeger grill. To date, it’s the purchase that’s, as Marie Kondo would say, sparked the most joy. From quick dinners to overnight briskets, my wife and I, and our friends, have enjoyed our Traeger immensely. (I said it yesterday but I’ll say it again, quit tagging me in that video. I’ve never taste tested a wood pellet.)

Matt Chapman, fellow Traeger enthusiast, and all around good guy, was kind enough to offer up his recipe for jalapeño cornbread. As usual my side commentary will be in italics, but this recipe is all him. …

A Side Dish Assist from Sara Range aka @polygrill17

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It’s thanksgiving week! Hopefully you’ve listened to the podcast by now, if not you can find it here.

With turkey concerns behind us, they’re covered in the podcast, I reached out to Sara Range (@polygrill17 on Instagram) to see if she could put her “fancy barbecue” spin on a holiday classic. As I’m sure you can tell from the photo she knocked it out of the park. Here’s her recipe. My limited commentary will be written in italics. …

A Minimalist Guide to Home Cooking Gear

You’re workspace is as important as your ingredients and implements.
You’re workspace is as important as your ingredients and implements.

Hopefully by now you’ve seared a steak, or splattered the back splash of your stove with tomato sauce, maybe flung a few strands of spaghetti on the cabinets to make sure they stick. If you have no idea what I’m talking about you can read all about it in my last post here.

One my main goals from day one has been to assure you that solid cooking is within your grasp without having to dump a significant amount of hard earned money into the endeavor. …

This is what we’re going for
This is what we’re going for

Now that we’re getting better acquainted, and you’re beginning to adjust to my quirks let’s cook something.

You know those diners advertising steak and spaghetti? Also usually sitting with the name of either Gus or George? That’s the experience we’re after today. Formica table tops, Sinatra on the radio, advertisement placemats, gold edged menu holders. Definitively not modern, vinyl covered booths. We all know this restaurant, I hope. I’m not sure I want to live in a world where this restaurant doesn’t exist. The requisite steak is usually an off cut dubbed a “sirloin” but an upgrade to a t-bone or Delmonico is always an option. For your $12.95 purchase, you get access to the salad bar, and a bowl of spaghetti with red sauce. Sounds comforting right? This was my grandfathers favorite sort of establishment. …

Commandments for Good Cooking

If this doesn’t inspire you to run into your kitchen and start cooking, what are you even doing here? Just kidding, kind of.
If this doesn’t inspire you to run into your kitchen and start cooking, what are you even doing here? Just kidding, kind of.

After the last post it appears as though you deemed it a worthwhile endeavor to take some time to read what I have to say about cooking at home, I thought it prudent that we lay out some principles of cooking that we’re going to agree to live by. This is an agreement you’ll enter into not only with me but yourself. This endeavor will impact the two most valuable resources we possess. Time, and our bodies. The care with which I cook goes hand and hand with the care, and respect I hold not only for my body, and soul, but for that of the people I cook for, namely my wife. Good cooking can be as simple as preparing a meal for your children and your spouse, however, to me, it’s an expression of everything that makes us human. It sustains us, it conveys our deepest and most intimate feelings. Still not a believer? …

Cooking advice from a former chef.

Ditch your phone, and those lame recipes, you need both hands to cook.
Ditch your phone, and those lame recipes, you need both hands to cook.

Senses and Success.

Sitting on the back patio at a cookout yesterday, I exclaimed, “I’ll give you a quick kitchen hack.” Everyone’s ears pricked up, millenials LOVE hacks. “Set the oven at 350, regardless of what you’re trying to accomplish, 350 degrees will get you there.”

It’s true, I don’t think I’ve looked at an oven temperature for the last 20 years. This is mostly because the professional kitchens I worked over the span of my career always had at least one oven running, and the temperature was always 350 degrees.

I promised myself, and those who loved the “It’s a long way up to recovery” website that I would try to write more, so here’s a list of baseline skills, musings and thoughts for your kitchen tool box. Master these and the idea of “throwing something together,” will simply become cooking and those beautiful cookbooks you’ve been dumping money into, will be excellent coffee table reading material.

Learn to lean on your senses.

You’ve got five of them. Deploying them in your kitchen with regularity will lead to a sixth sense, that my cooks called, “chef’s sense.” Is your pizza burning in the oven even though it has 4 more minutes on the timer? You know what burnt pizza smells like, open the oven and pull it out. Is your garlic burning in the pan even though it isn’t as translucent as you’d like? Anthony Bourdain called burnt garlic a cardinal sin, cut the pan off so you don’t find out why. Learning to rely on your senses allows you to become attune to your surroundings. For a generation that seems to be stuck perpetually in social media and online, it’s a skill we’re lacking woefully. As your senses get sharper, you’ll level up and unlock a true sixth sense, someone sneaking up behind you, buzz off creeper! Kids misbehaving in the next room, “it’s AWFULLY QUIET IN HERE, WHAT ARE YOU TWO DOING,” as my mother used to say. Being attune to your food is what makes the act of cooking, in itself an act of service, gratifying. You’ll not only be a better, more present cook, but a better dining companion as well. If you want to BROWSE a recipe before hand for some salient details or specific ingredients, fine. After that, leave your phone in another room. It’ll be worth it, I promise. …

Restaurant owners facing potential extinction.

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Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

By now I’m sure you’re all tired of being constantly bombarded with the near apocalyptic stories of a world desperate to contain the spread of COVID-19. A world slowly beginning to resemble the dystopian societies of Hollywood movies and Orwellian novels.

As our government shuts down new facets of our acquired lifestyle on a seemingly hourly basis, a silent faction of our society waits with bated breath to see what will become of them.

You know them better than you think.

They’ve been present to celebrate weddings, birthdays, promotions, first dates, and engagements. …

Life changing habits that had an immediate impact.

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Photo by Anh Nguyen on Unsplash

In the summer of 2019, if there was anyone who needed a win, it was me.

I was tired, scatter brained and fat. I don’t mean that I had body image issues.

I was clinically obese.

I was also an addict.

Alcoholism was in complete control of my behavior. I drank so I could relax. I drank so I could sleep. A brutal irony; I couldn’t sleep because I drank. The effects of sleep apnea were wreaking havoc on my brain, and my marriage. I developed “floppy eye syndrome,” a very real, and very gross side effect of sleep apnea.

It’s important to note, without breaking my addiction, nothing else I did would have changed. Alcoholism was ground zero for a myriad of physical and psychological impediments I was forcing myself to live with. …

Lessons from sobriety.

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Photo by Christian Erfurt on Unsplash

In the summer of 2019, I decided, enough was enough. I was tired of alternating between hungover and hammered. By tired, I mean I was exhausted. I wasn’t sleeping well. My waking hours were tortured by the effects of sleep apnea and anxiety.

The light at the end of the tunnel felt like a train, rapidly approaching me. I was ready to get it over with and succumb to fact that I would be miserable for the rest of my life. This is what I’ve learned since.

I wish someone had told me I didn’t have to live that way.

I was vaguely aware of another kind of life. One far removed from the hangovers, the fights and the anxiety. It felt close enough to remember, but far enough away that I wasn’t sure it was real. The first day of my sobriety, I woke up scared. I felt alone. I sat in my bed, by myself and cried. Had it really come to this? Had I really lost all control? The kind of honesty that comes with that level of clarity can be brutal. I’m not sure where I found the strength to get out of bed that day, but I did. …

About

Josh Gregory

Retired chef, recovering alcoholic. The idea of a cookbook/memoir feels like a pipe dream. That being said I’m here test driving those thoughts anyways.

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