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.

No comments: