Sunday, December 4, 2011

This is for you, Pat.

Dear Friend,

It's the Sunday before a seven-day work week which means that if anything is ever going to get done, today's the day to do it.
So I'll make something to go into little rubbermaid containers that I will take with me for lunch every day this week. It gets a little monotonous--eating the same thing every day, but it's not so bad. It beats a $5.00 salad slathered in mexi-ranch.
I've been craving macaroni and cheese ever since Pat Robertson said he's never heard of it. Which was way before Thanksgiving. So I'll make some grown up mac and cheese. I do not have a recipe, yet. But I'm sure there will be one by the time I've finished.

First things first, as we all know, begin by streaming This American Life (this is one of my most favorite episodes) while wiping down the kitchen counters. This is the one that I listened to. I picked it from the archives because there's a story about Hoisington, KS. And because it's about prom and teenagery things are always appealing. I predict that things will mosey along pretty quickly.

Macaroni and Cheese (or This is For You, Pat)
  1. Half a box of whole wheat pene (I don't know if there's any truth to it or not but I feel like it's a lot easier to gorge yourself on elbow macaroni, so I always use pene). I knew from the get-go that I wanted to make this fairly healthy-ish. I mean, it's macaroni and cheese after all but I'm going to be eating it for a few days, I have to get my fiber and vitamins in somehow.  
  2. I have a bag of frozen tri-colored bell peppers and onions and a bag of spinach. So, on the back burner I decided to cook them all together to get as much water out of them as possible.
  3. When the noodles were mostly done, I drained them and rinsed them with water to make them stop cooking and to wash the starch off because otherwise they'll get sticky and unappealing.
  4. The sauce part, this is where I start making stuff up. I only really have one pan, so I had to wait until the noodles were cooked before I started on my sauce. I decided to start with the premise of a bechamel. But, like, the most 2011, Midwestern bechamel that ever existed. Butter, flour, skim milk that will be expired in exactly 24 hours. I put three tablespoons of butter in the pan over medium heat. Once it was melted, I whisked in three tablespoons of flour. Whisk it around and it gets pretty thick pretty fast. This, by the way, is where sauce gets saucy. I started with skim milk, I poured that in about 1/3 cup at a time and kept whisking. You don't ever want to stop whisking because it'll burn and be ruined and repulsive. Also, if you keep adding milk and keep adding heat, it seems to always get thicker and thicker. So when I was ready for it to start thinning out just a smidge, I dumped in some white whine
  5. Normally, I would use chicken stock for this portion but I don't have any of that but I do have some wine which has past the point of being drinkable but not past the point of being able to cook with. So, we're putting those hands together. I can not tell you how much liquid to add to this, honestly. Just keep adding and keep stirring until it comes to a texture that you rather like. Then turn off the heat. And start adding your spices. I used garlic salt and black pepper and tumeric (to make it yellow). Also red-pepper flakes. Then I melted in maybe... 3/4 of a cup of shredded cheese? I buy sharp cheddar because you don't have to use a lot to get a big cheese flavor. There's a trick for you.
  6. Anyway, at this point I just dumped in the vegetables and the noodles and stirred them all up together.
  7. I sprayed a glass baking dish, dumped it all in, and sprinkled bread crumbs and parley on top. I haven't baked it, yet. I'll probably do it tomorrow.
I'm debating about whether or not to even post this because it's such a non-recipe and not really that helpful, probably.
In a world where I think things through before I do them, I probably would have used broccoli and cauliflower instead of bell peppers. That was an odd choice.

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