0929 This and That

I’ll return to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow, but for today, I thought I’d touch on a few things outside the normal scope of this project.  Oh, and we had macaroni and cheese tonight – Annie’s, the stuff with the “sharp cheddar” cheese powder.  Shane also sauteed a couple of sausages, which were the best thing about the meal.  Neither of us liked the “cheese”, despite normally liking Annie’s.

First: Crock Pots.  It seems to be the season to buy one, inherit one, or remember that you have one and wonder what to do with it.  We each brought a crock pot to the relationship, though neither of us used ours all that regularly.  We now have one, and it is brought out very infrequently, but when we do use it, it’s awesome.  I’ve previously blogged about using ours for chili and pulled pork – I also use it to soak and then cook garbanzo beans for hummus.  Whenever I’m asked what to do with a crockpot (or slow cooker – same thing), I point people to A Year of Slow Cooking, which is exactly what it sounds like: one family’s attempt to use their slow cooker(s) every day for a year.  That project ended a year or two ago, but she hasn’t stopped posting recipes, and has also written a slow cooker cookbook.  If you have a crockpot or are considering getting one, I highly recommend her site.

Second: Kitchen Aspirations.  Not Derby Pie posted a list of her New Year’s Resolutions – food and other cooking-related aspirations that she wants to tackle in the next year.  I think this is a great idea, and I’m kicking around my own list.  Among other things, it will include learning to bake other kinds of bread – I can make a mean sandwich loaf, but I dream of baguettes and sourdoughs.  Perhaps a 12 months, 24 loaves project is in order for next year?  Stay tuned!  I’d also love to hear your kitchen or food aspirations in the comments!

Third: This Blog.  Nine months down, three to go on my Kitchen Diaries project.  There are many things I’ve enjoyed about it, not the least of which has been all the great conversations I’ve had with you about what you’re cooking, including the very random encounter at the Homegrown Festival with someone who recognized me from this site (hello!).  I’m sure I won’t stop blogging about what we’re cooking and eating after December 31, but it certainly won’t be as often.


0831 Macaroni and Peas

Photo by The She-Creature
This photo reasonably approximates the state of our fridge right now, except with no eggs or cream cheese and a lot more beer and condiments, plus bags of carrots and onions from the garden tucked away in the crisper. No leftovers, save a half cup of cooked wheat berries. Replace that yogurt drink with the yogurt portioned out for breakfast and lunch.  And imagine me sticking my head in the fridge, looking for something – anything – for dinner.

We ended up with what I think of as a typical babysitting meal – you know, the sort of thing that parents can trust the neighborhood 14 year old to prepare – macaroni and cheese from a box topped with peas from the freezer.  Not even real cheese – the powder stuff from a packet, barely enriched with 1/4 cup skim milk.  We would’ve added butter, but we’re out of that.  We dug around for other enriching options, which is how we discovered that the cream cheese needed to go.  Despite this disparaging description, it was a perfectly fine meal, especially with the last two episodes of Sherlock Holmes for dessert.

0428 Michael Symon’s Macaroni and Cheese

We were given a copy of Michael Symon’s Live to Cook, the first cookbook by the Cleveland restaurateur and Iron Chef America personality of the same name.  We keep talking about going to Symon’s two restaurants in Cleveland, but the closest we’ve gotten is tonight’s macaroni and cheese.

0428 Michael Symon's Macaroni and Cheese

Yeah, yeah, I know this isn’t the most mouthwatering of photos, but do you see those bubbles?  That’s goat cheese and heavy cream, and a lot of both, and it’s bubbling up through freshly ground pepper.  And it’s delicious.

I’m not generally big on fancied up macaroni and cheese, to be totally honest.  I don’t like bread crumbs on top, and I don’t really care if it’s baked.  I don’t need four kinds of cheese, or a whole lot of accouterments to make me happy – just melted gooey goodness, with maybe some ham or peas added at the last minute.  Y’know, like this:

Best. Meal. Ever.

But I digress.

Dinner was deceptively simple.  Not quite as simple as the shells and cheese above, but much more simple than you’d expect from a fancy chef’s cookbook.  The sauce is goat cheese, rosemary, and heavy cream warmed together and reduced, with shredded chicken and your noodles stirred in towards the end.

That’s it.  No funny business.  No superfluous salt and pepper or seasoning, which struck me as a bit odd.  No pepper at all?  Really?  No pepper.  OK, so I added pepper.  And if I made this again, I would add more pepper.  I would also cut back on the sauce, and add in some vegetables, like the asparagus we served with the macaroni and cheese.

So maybe I do like my macaroni and cheese fancied up after all.

Macaroni and Cheese with Roasted Chicken, Goat Cheese, and Rosemary from Michael Symon’s Live to Cook