Sunday, January 31, 2016

What's So Great About Macaroni and Cheese

Ever since I was a little girl, I have been a lover of macaroni and cheese.  Usually, it was the boxed Kraft version--where the elbow macaronis came in the signature blue box with the silvery packet of gooey cheese.  I thought I was the quite the gourmet when I learned how to make it on the stovetop--all by myself.  It was warm, inviting, and it was cheese--a personal favorite.  I even liked it cold.  Still do.  

To this day, I can’t seem to resist the leftovers.  I’ve even been known to take a bite out of the Ziploc container for breakfast.  Or a yummy lunch.  Sometimes nuked, sometimes not.  What is it about pasta and cheese that is seemingly irresistible to my palate?  For me, I think mac-n-cheese is the epitome of comfort food.

As the Director of Food Services (Chief Cook and Bottlewasher) for a large protestant church in downtown Fort Lauderdale, my Nana would make this stuff by the ginormous panful.  The cheese would be bubbly and a soft brown crust would form over the top and you had to serve it with a non-slotted spoon.  You couldn’t miss out on one iota of the cheese-a-licious-ness.  Leftovers were a foregone conclusion--but they didn’t last very long.  Not much “left”, if you know what I mean.

Years later, I would be gifted with At Home in Mitford, the first in Jan Karon’s beloved series about which you have read (and likely heard) much if you’ve followed this little blog on a quasi-regular basis.  What I soon to came to love, second only to the colorful characters, was the food.  The recipes just poured out of Mitford.  Esther Bolick’s Triple Orange Marmalade Cake was the blue-ribbon favorite in the fictional town and in the fandom.  However, as I perused my Mitford Cookbook and Kitchen Reader, I discovered Puny’s Homemade Mac & Cheese.  If you want to know who Puny is, you’ll just have to pick up a Mitford book.  And how, that was a recipe that had to be tried.

After hand-grating four different kinds of cheeses for this recipe--pre-shredded bags were simply out of the question.  And toiling.  Oh, the toiling.  Mini-Hooper, who might have still been in his Ninja stage, sighed, and basically spurned Puny’s offerings.  A double set of sighs emitted from his mother.  Then, I remembered that this is the kid who until just recently had been very happy with those “just add water” and nuke the heck out of it mac-n-cheese bowls.  Then add the powder.  Oy.  Double oy.

However, since being introduced to various kinds of pasta possibilities (cavatappi, fusilli, and trottole--the last of those pronounced “delicioso” and fun to eat by all of us!) and the delights of melted Velveeta, Mini-Hooper is pacified and satisfied.  Don’t judge--this is what is called “meeting in the middle”, my friends.  Frankly, it looks lovely in a white Corningware dish, steaming on my table.  And the leftovers are grand.

Macaroni and cheese.  It’s magically delicious. 

Monday, January 18, 2016


So, I've been trying to spice up our Science curriculum.  With Mini-HooperHe Who Is Now Taller Than I is more than covered thanks to Tutorial, Physical Science, and a science fair project inspired by DeflateGate.  So, I have turned to my ever-faithful Pinterest, purveyor of cool ideas that actually use stuff I have at the house.  And special thanks to DaneenDee, the Science Lay-dee who has been pinning some of this fun stuff on my "She Blinded Me With the Science" board.  Whee!

The first in the "Science is Fun" line is the What Freezes First experiment.   This also ranks high on the Gross-but-Cool meter.  All you need is an ice-cube tray, a timer, a freezer, and some stuff to freeze.  We used Blue Gatorade, Ranch dressing, white vinegar, Almond milk, and chocolate syrup--all stuff I had in the fridge and/or cabinet.  Then, we made our predictions, set the timer, and noted the actual results.  Boom.

The next day, I decided to make use of those leftover candy canes and did the Dissolving Candy Canes project--this was super cool.  Here again, I used what I had on hand.  Four candy canes, 4 glasses, and various liquids in which to dissolve said canes (Caffeine-Free Coke Classic, White Vinegar, Ice Water, and Vegetable Oil).  The results were nifty--and a wee bit disturbing.

Candy Canes All In A Row.

Caffeine-Free Coke.

Lest you think I am just a potential Nobel-Prize winning scientist, disguised in a pink hoodie and Asics trainers, there have been a, well, fails.  Not an on epic scale.  Just experi-Pins that didn't quite live up to their billing.  Like the Skittles rainbow project.  I am more than willing to admit operator error.  But, I followed the directions to a T, I promise I did.  And one should never take the easy, no-bake route when it comes to making crystals--generic aspirin, a jar of water in a dark and quiet place just won't cut it.  You need Borax, people.  

The Actual.

The Ideal.

I will have to leave the house and venture to the store in which I am told that what I need is in the Craft aisle.  The whole dang store is a craft aisle.  Basically.  Yes, I am referring to the jewel in the weekly 40%-off coupon crown, Hobby Lobby.  

But, I can almost guarantee that I won't find Borax with the Washi tape and calligraphy pens.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

It's In The Cards

One score and several years ago (thank you, Gettysburg Address), a fabulously festive mentor of mine introduced me to a wonderful tradition.  Each year, she and her hubby (a favorite prof of mine--and both previously immortalized in this blog), would "pray through" their Christmas cards.  Sometimes, they would recall a special memory or two about the senders.  Often, a note would be sent, letting the one who had been lifted up know of their remembrance.  I filed that in my "When I Am a Grown-Up" file and vowed to initiate such a ritual when the time came. 

Thus, when My Favorite Philosopher and I tied the nuptial knot, I opened the file and we began to "pray through" our cards.  E-mail was in its embryonic stages then (Gasp!); thus, I did my best to keep up with handwritten notes sent to those for whom we gave thanks and remembered in prayer, over our cozy dining room table, in our one-bedroom apartment in Garnet-and-Gold ville. 

Some traditions come and go, adorable Southern Living articles suggest sweet rituals, and Pinterest bombards us with all kinds of ideas; however, this one has stuck with us. Sometimes, we will recall happy times shared with the senders--and the boys will marvel at the fact that we had a life before they came along!  

So, if you happen to stick a festive stamp on a holiday card and send it our way, we thank you for participating in our tradition. Rest assured that you will be lifted up. And, a happy little note, be it electronic or old school regular mail, will make its way to you.

Christmas Past. 

Christmas Present.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Wookiee Wednesday

Because we've seen "The Force Awakens" twice. 
And watched the trailer a minimum of eighty-four times. 
And multiple YouTube dissections of aforementioned trailer.
Hump-Day Hilarity will return next week.
As long as Chewie says it's okay.