Friday, July 31, 2009

I Had To Have Macaroni and Cheese Tonight, Or Else

I haven’t done much except read since we got home from Chicago on Sunday.

The sheets need to be changed. The laundry is piled so high in the hamper that it is now piled on top of the hamper. Disaster was imminent, when last I saw it, and I predict it will be falling off sometime today.

My Favorite Husband has done some dishes. It’s what he does when I do the cooking. I was doing my part to help out though. I wasn’t cooking, so he didn’t have a lot of dishes to “do.” Coffee cups, mostly.

He couldn’t eat breakfast, because the milk had passed its prime. And we were out of bananas. Down to a few Cheerios. No V-8 juice.

Then we ran out of Oikos yogurt. My yogurt. Now I was affected by my own sloth. And yet, I continued to bury my head in the computer and read, read, read.

So this morning, he appeared in his Illinois Lawn Bubba outfit (think Harrison Ford, without the hat) and announced he would be taking me to an early lunch and then to Kroger. Lunch was the carrot, and I was cast in the role of donkey in his little lunchtime scenario. I bit.

Changed my shirt to one that coordinated with my tank top and shorts and climbed in the car.

We didn’t get more than a mile down the road when it began. In the right turn lane, the lane with the green light, the guy in front of us let the opposing traffic turn left in front of him. Nice guy. Apparently he had not gone for the rear view mirror option on that big ol' pick-up truck, and therefore could not see that there was anyone behind him. The very same drivers who would have been just as grateful to make the right turn on green.

MFH, alternately known as Mild Mannered Man, was provoked and actually gave a very tiny HONK at Mr. Nice Guy.

After the opposing lane of cars made it through the intersection, there was just enough time for Mr. Nice Guy to execute his own turn, on yellow, of course. We sat through the red light waiting for our turn – again.

Another mile down the road, and closer to town, we prepared to turn right at the green light, onto the road leading to the fast food/strip center maze. Our intention was to then take the immediate left at McDonald’s and book it over to Subway. Except the guy making the turn just before us decided to make the three-way stop a four-way stop. He actually stopped before making his right-of-way-no-stop-sign-left-turn to – you guessed it! – let the opposing traffic stop at their sign and then proceed straight ahead. Invasion of the mind snatchers.

There we sat, again. Scratching our cocked heads, mouths agape. Along with the two cars at the cross-traffic stop signs. This guy was throwing off the whole traffic pattern for the entire east side of town. Cars observing the green light behind us were stacking up on our bumper. Expletive!

I realized at that moment it was Friday! We live in a college town and for some reason Friday is drive crazy day, all day.

When I was in college, we didn’t drive around like crazy people just because it was Friday. We were all safely tucked away in the bars by noon, drinking like crazy, and hiking or hitching home by sundown. Whatever happened to collegiate tradition?

Lunch was without incident, for the most part. No soap or paper towels in the bathroom. All the tables taken, except the one with the broken potato chip mosaic covering the floor around it and wet spots on the table. Oh, and there is no need to eat chicken salad at Subway. And, I almost forgot, no lemon for tea – not even lemonade in the machine to fake it. See, sometimes I eat just to stay alive.

Next stop – Kroger. It is always Crazy Ville in Kroger on Friday. I must ask, why is everyone in Kroger on Friday? Do they not serve popcorn in bars on Friday anymore? Are there not pizza places that deliver to dorm rooms when you’re too . . . well, you know . . . inebriated . . . to walk over and pick one up for yourself?

Asked and answered – YES! So here’s an idea! Go to the bars on Friday afternoon, like a good college student. Then hike home and call for delivery pizza. Stay out of Kroger and give the old people a chance to shop in peace.

And, no, they are not all buying beer at Kroger. Our grocery stores don’t sell beer. Except Wal-Mart, on the other side of town. And we’re still trying to figure out how that happened.

The Kroger run was mostly uneventful. We limited ourselves to the breakfast items on our list. It's Friday and we’ll probably be ordering pizza.

Then I remembered,
I was making Mac & Cheese to take to DR next door. She had “a procedure” yesterday and won’t be lifting any heavy pots and pans for a few days. So I picked up some elbow macaroni.

Groceries in tow, we wheeled the cart out to the car. We use the “door less traveled,” where the parking lot is usually more civilized. Yeah right. As we come to the first car parked in our row, we see this.

I couldn’t resist taking this picture to prove my point about Friday drivers. Notice how I obscured the license plate to protect the poor soul who hung up the right rear tire on the curb, as he/she pulled into the well marked “no parking” zone, right next to the “handicapped” spot. In fact, I walked back to take this picture with my cell phone, and I even mastered a new skill, emailing pics from my phone to my computer. (Photoshop AND new cell phone tricks - I didn’t even know I could do that!)

So - whatta ya gonna do? We jumped into our car and drove home.

Illinois Lawn Bubba is out playing with chainsaws in the yard. I’m playing with fire in the kitchen.

We should be a lot safer at home for the rest of Friday.

And we’re staying in for dinner. The number for pizza delivery is on my speed dial. It’s the button with the number rubbed off.

I learned it in college.

And, yes, it is perfectly acceptable to eat pizza AND macaroni and cheese together – but only if it’s Friday and you’ve had a surgical procedure or a hair-raising ride to town and back.

Because I said so!

MACARONI AND CHEESE

1 box elbow macaroni
8 tbsp. butter (1/2 cup)
8 tbsp. flour (1/2 cup)
dry mustard
garlic powder
onion powder
freshly ground nutmeg
freshly ground pepper
kosher salt
4 cups milk
lots of sharp cheddar cheese – 6 to 8 cups – or use a combination of whatever you have available, along with sharp cheddar
Breadcrumbs

While preparing Cheese Sauce, cook elbow macaroni according to package directions.

For Cheese Sauce: In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and stir with a whisk until blended. Sprinkle in the dry mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, freshly ground nutmeg, freshly ground pepper and kosher salt. Continue to stir over medium heat for about a minute. Slowly pour in the milk and continue to stir until mixture thickens. Stir in cheese, or cheeses, and stir until melted.

Drain cooked macaroni and place back into pot. Pour cheese sauce over drained macaroni and stir to blend thoroughly. Spray inside of two casserole dishes with cooking spray. Pour macaroni and cheese into casserole dishes and cover top with breadcrumbs. Bake at 350 degrees until breadcrumbs brown and macaroni is bubbly – 30 to 45 minutes. May be prepared ahead and refrigerated before baking.

Note: I don’t butter the breadcrumbs; there is a lot of fat in the butter and cheese in the sauce, so the crumbs will soak up enough to be moist and crispy.

And this one isn't even baked yet, but it's smelling really good in the oven right now. Ummmmmmm . . .

16 comments:

Dianna said...

DR truly appreciates the great-tasting macaroni and cheese. It really hit the spot. Now I'm on the couch resting and relishing that pleasant taste in my mouth :-)

Shannon said...

Cora, you crack me up. I can visualize everything you wrote so clearly! My husband hates to drive in town...I wonder how he'll do when we move to the city?!(I told you we're moving to ST Louis, right?) The mac and cheese sounds delish. We'll be trying it soon. And I need to bring you my chicken salad next time I make some...with grapes and pecans. Do you like that kind?

Cora @ Cora Cooks said...

DR, glad to hear the mac & cheese was good. We had ours with hotdogs. Summer is so easy! Let me know if you need more comfort food tomorrow.

Cora @ Cora Cooks said...

Shannon, indeed I did hear you were moving. What will I do for dessert for my cooking classes? And yes, I gladly accept chicken salad deliveries - especially with grapes and pecans!

Deb said...

Cora, I am 100% certain that the mac&cheese is superb but I have a pasta recommendation to pass along that will make ALL the difference in any pasta dish you make & that is to use DeCecco pasta - it's SO much better than any other.

I get it at ShopRite in Wilmington DE - hope you can find it locally - honestly, it makes all the difference in the world.

Shannon said...

I guess I need to figure out how to ship a cheesecake?! haha You're such an amazing cook, you should just make up some desserts that are freezable when you can pull yourself away from the computer. Then you would have a stash ready for your next class! I'll call you next time I whip up some chicken salad. ;)

nckitkat said...

I can SO picture all this- it rivals the traffic around Lowe's/BooksaMillion/ChickFila/TJMaxx shopping area any time after 12, but particularly on the weekend! If you don't go before lunch, take a book on tape for your car, no matter that is only about 300 yards or so. The Mac and Cheese sounds yummy, another artery-clogger- but they are always the best, huh? keep up the yummy recipes and stories!

Cora @ Cora Cooks said...

Deb, thanks for the pasta tip! We can buy DeCecco at our International Market and a couple of other stores. I'll give it a try next time.

Shannon, maybe we can meet at the McDonald's in Nashville, IL for cheesecake swaps!

Kathy, you know we don't have much traffic here, but it is really something else on Friday. It's almost time for summer break, which is just long enough to lull us into forgetting how crazy it will be when fall semester begins. Sigh...

Kalyn said...

I hate drivers like that! I think I inherited it from my dad, because when I was a kid if someone was slow making a turn he used to say "What are you waiting for, an engraved invitation?" in a very cross voice. Then my ever-so-patient mother would say "Edger," in a slightly disapproving voice and he'd stop complaining. Now I catch myself saying it (and much worse things too!)

Cora @ Cora Cooks said...

Kalyn, that's so funny! My mother is the "colorful" driver in our family and I clearly remember the "engraved invitation" invocation too.

Anonymous said...

CORA, HAVE YOU EVER USED RADIATORI MACARONI? EACH PIECE HOLDS A LOT MORE CHEESE SAUCE!! YOUR RECIPE SOUNDS GREAT.

Cora @ Cora Cooks said...

I love using different pasta shapes, especially when I want the sauce to coat the pasta. These little elbows actually have ridges to grab the sauce, but radiatori would be perfect for a gooey cheese sauce too!

Lisa said...

Thanks for taking care of my sister!

Cora @ Cora Cooks said...

Lisa, you are most welcome! We take care of each other and have lots of fun doing it.

Kristina said...

I am so making this tonight!! I love mac n cheese!!

Maris said...

Mmmm, sometimes mac and cheese really hits the spot!