slow cooker cheesy garlic herb mashed potatoes of first line anxiety

Things might not be going all that well here at the Jones-Farrar household. Between NaNoWriMo, remote schooling, COVID, being trapped with each other and not travelling for ten months?

I’ve got some writers block and a need for starch. Keto be damned. It’s almost Thanksgiving in the U.S.

How about you?

Print Recipe
slow cooker cheesy garlic herb mashed potatoes of first lines
Cooking With a Writer
Course side dish
Cuisine american
Course side dish
Cuisine american
Cooking With a Writer
  1. Look writer, you need to get things started. It is almost Thanksgiving in the U.S. and you signed up for National Novel Writing Month, which means you have to write 50,000 words.
  2. You have written none.
  3. That’s because you can’t think of a first line.
  4. You are having first line anxiety. This is normal. This is very writer of you.
  5. So, be even more of a writer about this and procrastinate by cooking potatoes in a slow cooker.
  6. Put the potatoes, parmesan rind (if you have something that fancy) heavy cream, milk, garlic, and sage into the slow cooker.
  7. Um. Plug it in, honey. It needs electricity.
  8. Okay, now put the cover on and press the numbers for either high (4-5 hours) or low (6-8 hours).
  9. Stare at your computer’s blank document for all that time, trying to be all Hemingway and create the perfect sentence.
  10. Give up and check on the potatoes.
  11. Are they fork tender?
  12. If yes? Coolio. Turn the heat to warm. If not? Cook more and check again.
  13. Drain potatoes. Do not burn yourself. Do not drain the cream.
  14. Throw out the herbs and rind. Like adverbs, they have served their purpose in this first draft and you are CUT CUT CUTTING them out.
  15. Put the potatoes through a ricer or mash them.
  16. Put them back in the pot. If you go the mashing route, you can do this in the pot to make less dishes. Less dishes equals happier writers.
  17. Add that 1.5 cups of cream you didn’t toss. Add the butter.
  18. Does it not look right? Add more cream until it does. The potatoes are like a first sentence. You’ve got to revise it until it’s snazzy.
  19. Add salt and pepper to snaz it up.
  20. Now, enter the world of best sellers and add cheese. Look at you, you rock star! Stir it up. Put the cover on. Cook for 15 minutes. The cheese should be melted.
  21. They can stay this way for four hours.
  22. Eat them.
Recipe Notes

This recipe is adapted from one of my favorite cooking sites in the universe. The Half Baked Harvest. Head over there to see the recipe in non-writer (sane human) form and the variations for insta pot and stove.

Easy Cheese Pasta that Isn’t Mac and Cheese – Oh, Did He Just Say He was Salty?

Print Recipe
Easy Cheesey Pasta Comeback King
This is adapted from Ashley Rodriguez of Not Without Salt fame.
Vegetarian pasta meal
Course Main Dish
Cuisine american, Italian
Keyword pasta
Prep Time 0
Cook Time 20 minutes
Passive Time 0
Course Main Dish
Cuisine american, Italian
Keyword pasta
Prep Time 0
Cook Time 20 minutes
Passive Time 0
Vegetarian pasta meal
  1. Boil your pasta in some salted water according to the package's directions.
  2. Make sure that water in the stockpot is super salty. So salty. It is the comeback queen of pasta water.
  3. Feel frustrated that your arch nemesis on Twitter said his superpower is salty comebacks. There is much to unpack there. Unpack it while the pasta cooks.
  4. Seriously. Salty comebacks? His comebacks suck.
  5. Move on and be a better person.
  6. Fail. And check Twitter. Do not subtweet. Do not subtweet. Do not subtweet.
  7. Subtweet.
  8. PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE! Using a large pan on medium-low heat, melt butter and mix it with 1 teaspoon pepper. Infuse that pepper for 1 minute.
  9. Turn off the heat below the peppered butter. DO NOT CHECK YOUR TWITTER NOTIFICATIONS.
  10. Take ½ cup of pasta water and add it to the butter mixture and let it hang out there for 2 minutes.
  11. Check your Twitter. Has he responded? Oh.... He has. He subtweeted your subtweet! But it is not salty it's just blah and full of hashtags.
  12. Triumph in your proof that salty comebacks are not his superpower.
  13. Wonder if you have a super power other than obsessing about Twitter. Decide not to care because soon the pasta will make you forget all other things.
  14. Drain pasta. Add pasta to the pepper-butter-water. Have 3/4 cup Pecorino cheese join them there. They are happy Twitter followers all hanging together without subtweeting. Envy them.
  15. Toss until the cheese melts and everything is creamy and coated. Eat with a salad. Rejoice that you have better food than He Who Is Not Salty.

The quest to make the Man eat more vegetarian meals continues with this simple bad boy.

Why is this bad boy so simple yet delicious?

  1. The ingredients rock
  2. I am too busy obsessing over Twitter to cook something more complicated right now. #theend
  3. Pasta is comforting as heck.

Man Verdict: Isn’t pasta supposed to be orange when it has cheese in it?

Dogs Verdict: All pasta is amazing.

My Verdict: Why does Twitter exist? Why do people subtweet? Give me more pasta. Gobble. Gobble. Drown my feelings in carbs. Watch me. Yep, I am drowning my feelings in carbs.



My next book, IN THE WOODS, appears in July with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed!

You can preorder this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

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On February first, I’m going to launch my Patreon site where I’ll be reading chapters (in order) of a never-published teen fantasy novel, releasing deleted scenes and art from some of my more popular books. And so much more.

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A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

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Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!


Hey! If you download the Anchor application, you can call into the podcast, record a question, or just say ‘hi,’ and we’ll answer. You can be heard on our podcast! Sa-sweet!

No question is too wild. But just like Shaun does, try not to swear, okay?

Here is the link to the mobile app and our bonus podcast below.


I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

Bar Harbor Painting Schooner
Bar Harbor Painting Schooner


You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy


The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

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Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them here or anywhere. It’s fun, accessible science fiction. Who knew there was such a thing?

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