Sunday, June 26, 2011

Pot Luck?

Not my Mac&Chz, but the closest picture I could find to how mine looks fresh from the oven.

Last night's "pot-luck" turned out to be a sit down dinner for ten, complete with crystal and silver! My mac & cheese was most welcome, and aside from a turkey breast someone brought, was the only "real" food on the sideboard. A LARGE casserole was completely consumed and highly praised by all the men and two of the women, and what cook can ask for more than that? It was an interesting group, and the most intellectual fun I've had in a very long time. V and I enjoyed a lengthy postmortem over breakfast and our usual card playing (gin rummy). This is a funny town. V likes to say it's full of human flotsam, in that so many of the residents are from far and (world)wide, landing here after many adventures and often a wild and varied life. Certainly that describes the two of us. There's a high degree of educated intellect in this town, which is essential to my social contentment, and V's, too. And after five years of making zero dents in the closed armour of the town various cliques, it seems some doors are finally creaking open and we're being invited in. cowabunga...

Of course, the initial contact with people is entirely attributed to V's racing and work as a Master Rigger (and for 20+ years as a Sailmaker), but given a chance, I have a lot to offer any intellectually curious group. Dolts and dunderheads need not apply, as we seldom get along.

I always worry about talking too much or seeming like a know-it-all, but I feel mostly okay about last night's performance. It makes SUCH a difference to be amongst others who have traveled as extensively and are apparently as intellectually voracious as me. Nice to be amongst my tribe...a very unusual experience for me.

I'll end by giving you my - or rather my grandmother's recipe for Macaroni & Cheese. Thanks, Ida Adelle Whipple Canaday, for this and apple pie and so much more!

No White Sauce Mac & Cheese

Small elbow macaroni, cooked until al dente
A brick of cheddar - longhorn if you can get it, but a Tillamook Baby Loaf will do nicely - cut into slices 1/8 - 1/4 inch thick
Salt, Pepper
Cracker/Bread crumbs or potato or tortilla chip leavings (the crumbs at the bottom of the bag)

Butter (not Pam) a large - 2 or 3 qt - baking dish
put a layer of cooked mac noodles in the dish - enough to cover with no dish showing through.
Atop the noodles, place a single layer of cheese, cutting to fit as though it was a mosaic
Salt and pepper the layer, and put two or three dabs of butter equillaterially spaced
Repeat the noodle, cheese, and spices/butter steps as many times as required to fill the dish.
Pour enough milk to come up the dish a third of the way...sorry, I do it by eyeball and have no real feel for how much that is.
Melt a couple of tablespoons of butter in a skillet, add enough bread/cracker crumbs to make it a thick crumble - this is the final layer for the top, so make it however wet/dry, thick/thin you want, and use whatever you think would taste good or have a texture you like. I occasionally use potato or tortilla chips; V likes the tortilla chips, I like the potato, but we agree the bread/cracker are really good, too. You can just forego this step altogether if you wish, it makes no real difference except for adding crunchy top layer.
Cover with a lid or foil and place in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. At the 40 minute mark, remove the lid/foil and allow the whole thing to crisp up a tad.

This is good cold for picnics, too, something my mother used to serve along with cold fried chicken. Hey, in the days before microwaves, a LOT of food was served cold. I think cold food is sadly overlooked these days as a good option.

And that's it. I've experimented with the addition of ham or fowl or tomatoes, but none of seems to be as good as the very basic comfort food that Mac & Cheese is for so many of us.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Random Thoughts

Good News On the health front, I have been diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis. The bad news is that IC is a mystery disease, without a clear (or even hazy, as far as I can tell) idea of what causes it, and thus how to eliminate it. But I HAVE moved from Idiopathic pain to a "functional somatic syndrome," meaning a condition with no known medical cause. I figure knowing what the condition IS, even without knowing the cause, is better than not even knowing what the condition itself is. Much like fibromyalgia and irritable bowel, it's an uphill battle with the Medical Establishment to gain understanding and acceptance, and because of that, it's an even bigger battle to gain official disability approval from the various Governmental Departments/Administrations. Experiential wisdom says keeping a daily journal is extremely useful in the hearings that always ensue, so I'm doing that.

News of the Weird I have suddenly begun growing my nails out, keeping them manicured, complete with coloured enamel! Bizarre, given how thoroughly they get in my way when I'm working on any of my projects, but seeing lady fingers at the ends of my hands gives me some strange thrill. Who knew I'd take such pleasure in being so girlie?

Old News Revisited You'd think, as I did, that after so much good health news (no cancer, no polyps, no nothing that has dire consequences), I'd be chipper and happy and reenergized. But that's not the case, at least today (and yesterday, and the day before). Today The Black Dog is back for his dark visit, and with his presence, my vision has dimmed and my view, narrowed. I watched two films this morning, back to back, You've Got Mail and The Color Purple. You've got mail always gets me when the scene in which Meg Ryan's character is leaving her lovely little shop for the last time, and looks back to envision she and her mother twirling as the music swells. Today I realised as I watched that I have absolutely zero memories of my mother and I playing like that. None. Dad, absolutely, but I only remember my mother being angry and/or dangerous. And that, my dears, is very very sad. The Color Purple, on the other hand, causes me to cry at the end because of all the terrible heartbreak that went before for all the characters, and which never had to be except for the misery of the human pattern. I may not care much overall for my own species, but I grieve for the pain we carry and repeatedly deliver one another. Just tears me up.

The photo at the top of this post was taken by my computer a minute ago. Tonight I'm off to a pot-luck for V's sailing buds. I loath these gatherings, always have, always will, but sometimes you have to step and support the one you love. So the yummy, gooey dish of macaroni and cheese is cooked, I'm all cleaned up (the miracle of a good scrubbing, the right clothes, a little curling of the hair and light application of make-up still works! Hallelujah!) and ready when V is. He's not a fan of these affairs, either, so he's dragging his heels.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


I'm a big fan of Haiku. The elegance of the form pleases my esthetic; the three lines with 5/7/5 syllables are the most efficient and elegant means of communicating the natural poetry and daily details of life all around. And once I start to write haiku, I can't seem to stop. This glorious sunny morning, for example, two haiku emerged fairly effortlessly:

Garage sale Sunday
Strangers picking at the piles
Discarded treasures

Dancing on the Bay
Diamonds sparkle, glittering
Sun and Water wed

So how about it? Look around you, write some haiku, and post it in the comments section here. I'm most eager to have such a perfect view of your life today.