Cherry Saturday, July 7, 2018

Today is Macaroni Day.   (It’s also Chocolate Day, but then every day is . . .).

Macaroni is one of the Ultimate Comfort Foods, probably because so many of our mothers shoved it in front of us as kids.  One of the first meals I had out of the hospital was macaroni and cheese because I needed a food hug.  I have since concentrated on Caesar salads and broiled chicken, but mac and cheese is always waiting in the background, a blast from the past and comfort for the future.  And that’s before we get to Johnny Marzetti from the school cafeteria and any number of slumgullions made with whatever’s in the house at the time.  And now that they have high fiber pasta, well, why wouldn’t you get a spoon and start to scoop?  

70 thoughts on “Cherry Saturday, July 7, 2018

  1. Jenny, apropos of nothing related to macaroni, is there any chance that the Unfortunate Miss Fortunes is, or will be made, available as an audiobook?

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      1. Hear you. I’m reading it on my Kindle. I have listened to all of your audiobooks about 3 million times, usually while running (read: walking with an occasional lurch). I’ve listened to “Agnes and the Hitman” so many times that my iPhone defaults to it when I finish any other audiobook, but I adore all of them. “Maybe this Time” and “Faking it” are particularly brilliant!

        Cannot wait to read the ones you are working on now. Thank you for the laughter and for such fierce females!

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  2. I like macaroni and cheese but I haven’t eaten it since I left home 50 years ago.

    Fettuccini Alfredo on the other hand, which now that I think about it is just fancy version of macaroni and cheese, I used to eat all the time. I stopped once I discovered that my weight went up another two pounds every time I ate it.

    So now my quick, cheap pasta fix is homemade pesto on fettuccini or fresh tomatoes and duxelles with green onions on fettuccini. Really it is quicker to make them reconstituting a package of macaroni and cheese. And really pesto is almost healthy: fresh garlic, fresh basil, olive oil and cheese and pine nuts.

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    1. I heart everything you said. My local grocery store (Food Lion) has “Speedy Pasta,” two servings of elbows or fettucine or spaghetti in a pouch you microwave for sixty seconds. I count every calorie, carb and milligram of sodium, and they aren’t bad at all. Topped with fresh tomato, onion and garlic pepper, they’re a meal. Maybe some chicken breast meat on the side (or under.)

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    2. That’s what I forgot at the grocery: fresh tomatoes. Chopped on top of hot pasta with some basil and a little olive oil and some mushrooms . . .

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      1. Subtract the mushroom and tomato, add chopped walnuts and parmesan, and you have what was our kids’ comfort food, “pasta pesto.” The grownup version included chopped red pepper and black olives.

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        1. I’m with MJ.

          Also, my mom never made Mac ‘n cheese for me, so it isn’t a comfort food for me. Ice cream on the other hand…

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  3. Yesterday was homemade mac and cheese with leftover bits of cheese added to sharp cheddar. Today is leftover mac and cheese day. Yum.

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  4. I’m more of a ramen person. I’m really picky on mac ‘n cheese (kind of needs to be less covered in cheese and have bread crumbs rather than “cheesy soup with noodles” which I get really sick of eating after 5 minutes) and I’m afraid to order it in restaurants most of the time because I end up not loving it. Sigh.

    The best I ever had was at Thanksgiving a few years ago, but when my relatives served it again 2 years later, it was not the same. Sigh.

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  5. Yum. Just discovered a new to me cheese – Welsh cheddar, strong white cheddar. Going to try it a couple of cheeses and make Mac and cheese.

    Mother loved burnt almond chocolate bars, now my comfort chocolate bar.

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  6. I dont think my mom ever made mac and cheese so for me it’s not a comfort foodZ I made homemade Mac and cheese for my kids. It will be interesting to see if the boxed kind appeals to them

    We are eating garlic scape pistachio pesto pasta these days. It requires a really good small food processor but it’s yummy.

    3+

  7. Can’t remember getting the homemade version as a small kid, when comfort food first became a thing – only the Kraft boxed version, which is fine because cheap so if I need a hit I don’t feel guilty about not eating the entire box.

    Also, SLUMGULLION!! Somebody else who knows what that is!!! My mom used to make it all the time when I was growing up, but nobody else in California seems to have heard of it – they all look at me like I’m proposing a very specifically odd sex act when I mention it. A rare non-mayo based Midwestern food, then?

    Back to chicken and caesar salads for us too.

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    1. Mom made Mac and cheese from scratch, my dearest aunt made it from a box. If we were at the lake and Aunt Dot made kraft dinner, we thought we were eating “real” Mac and cheese. Too funny.

      2+

      1. I had to Google. I couldn’t imagine how mac n cheese Google come in a box. Google helped, but my imagination is still not really up to the task. Not in a way that makes it sound like comfort food anyway!

        0

      1. When I was growing up, it was a throw everything in the pot kind of meal. Basically, it’s hamburger, pasta, and tomatoes and whatever else is in the refrigerator. Onions are good. Parsley, oregano, basil. Mushrooms may be a bridge too far, but I like ’em.
        The school cafeteria’s version of slumgullion was baked, so they called it Johnny Marzetti.

        Basically, cheap kid food.

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        1. Growing up our school version was called American Chop Suey. Later on I made it for my children and put in diced green pepper and cubed cheddar cheese with all the other ingredients and bake. Still make it – kids always want the recipe. I give them a copy, they lose it, ask again. It’s a cycle.

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  8. When I was a (literally) starving college student, there was a time when I ate generic mac and cheese every day. Three times a day, sometimes. (You could get it for 10/$1.00 back then.) These days I don’t eat it often, but I do love a box of Annie’s organic mac and cheese occasionally in the winter, usually with extra cheese added in.

    Oddly enough, I rarely like the homemade version.

    Lots of salads here, too.

    2+

    1. I don’t eat macaroni and cheese often but when I do, Annie’s organic is the best! Especially since the cheese isn’t dyed that off-putting fake yellow. lol

      2+

  9. Mac and cheese is super yummy. I found fresh Meyer lemon linguine at a grocery in Calif. last week while on vacation. Cooked it twice with vodka tomato sauce. Mmmm.

    Had pasta and homemade pesto at an acquaintance’s house Thursday. That was so comforting.

    I’m glad you are home and getting good meals!

    3+

      1. Amazon doesn’t have Meyer Lemon linguine, but it has a lot of lemon pepper pasta. Which I am now tempted to try.

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  10. When I was student cooking, I would add a box of pre-cooked frozen spinach to the mac and cheese, or broccoli, and so could claim it as healthy.

    4+

  11. It took me ages to cotton on that mac and cheese meant macaroni cheese. I read it as a (Macdonald’s) hamburger with cheese. Exotic foreign foods.

    6+

    1. Just an exotic “foreign” shared language.

      This is my very first post on my own computer! I am so excited that now I can comment on the same day that the discussion starts! Huge thanks to my brother for the hand-me-down and to my brother-in-law for cleaning out the old files and the tune up.

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        1. That’s what we’d call it here. By which I’d mean macaroni in a cheesy white sauce, probably with a bit of mustard, then baked with a crispy crumb topping. Sometimes with bacon added.

          1+

      1. Macaroni cheese definitely exists, though it wasn’t part of my childhood – and I don’t know that there was a ready-made version. I’ve only had it once, some years ago.

        I was very wary of real pasta, I remember, before I spent two months in Venice in my gap year. I’d only ever had Heinz spaghetti. My mother resisted pasta to the end: I couldn’t persuade her that there’s really nothing to dislike about it.

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  12. My favorite mac n cheese of all time is Kraft Mac and Cheese. I love the stovetop stuff from a box, not easy mac. It’s my Agnes and the Hitman one recipe to sum up my childhood:

    1 box of Mac and Cheese possibly white cheddar or the orange kind
    with real butter and real milk
    Follow the recipe and serve.

    Cheap, filling, and something my working parents, particularly mom, could make after work.
    I stopped eating it, because it seems unhealthy and fattening.

    2+

  13. Mac and cheese wasn’t a childhood staple. As an adult I came across a three-cheese, death by mac and cheese recipe in an old (2004-ish) Volvo magazine. That became a staple.

    Till I learned that cheese causes and/or worsens my sinus problems. Literal breathing problems due to cheese? Turns out they weren’t kidding about that “death by” part. 🤣 Adiós cheese.

    5+

  14. Slumgullion is what I grew up calling goulash (which is actually wildly different, but I didn’t realize that until I was an adult). My mom is from MN, and I have no idea why she knew it as goulash, but there you have it.

    I had mac & cheese from Costco with a salad for dinner last night. It’s not half bad, but so very caloric, I’m sure. My favorite mac & cheese is from Beecher’s in the C concourse at SeaTac. I’ve been known to schedule connecting flights so that I have time to pick some up, then I savor it once airborne. I’m lucky to have made it to landing without being lynched.

    5+

    1. My parents are from MN, and my mom’s version of slumgullion (made with Uncle Ben’s rice, the leftovers from the most recent rump roast, canned mushrooms, and a few other odds and ends thrown in…) we always called goulsch. I think it came from one of us not being able to say goulash clearly as a child.

      My husband is Canadian, and I confess, it cracked me up the first time we were up there and I found out that Kraft Mac ‘n’ Cheese is called Kraft Dinner there. So much more definitive.

      4+

      1. It is called that here, Carol, but have also heard just KD. My mom always made her own mac & cheese so I didn’t know about KD until I had it at my aunt’s house. Never took to it because to me my mom’s was the best.

        So true what Jenny said about it being a comfort food because it came from our moms. At least it’s true for me:)

        2+

      1. My mom called it goulash too. We lived in Canada for a few years. Maybe it’s a northern US & Canadian thing?

        0

  15. Bolognese, that’s the sauce! For comfort, my own ratatouille, aged a couple days.

    Some of both in the fridge right now, with a waiting avocado toast for lunch.

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  16. We had homemade macaroni cheese when I was a kid. It put me off macaroni permanently. Doesn’t matter how much I try and convince myself it’s just like any other pasta, macaroni tastes stodgier to me.

    I think my comfort food as a kid was cheese toast, cooked 2 slices at a time in our little benchtop grill. Hot bubbling cheese with a crispy top, yum.

    4+

  17. My boys are both seriously allergic to dairy, so I haven’t made Mac and cheese since before they were born, and I miss it. I have a fabulous recipe that uses ricotta cheese… Maybe next time they have a sleepover. I’m hungry now.

    3+

  18. I had never even heard of Mac & Cheese before I read Maybe This Time… Andie’s reaction to it made me suspect it wasn’t gonna be something I’d wanna try either 😉 I think it must be an American/Canadian thing.

    We drowned in spaghetti bolognese when we were kids. Mum’s was…not that good, I always drowned it in ketchup to get it down. Dad’s was always delicious. (Divorced parents.) I still prefer dad’s. Mine was quite good too before, but lately I simply can’t get it right and end up throwing it away. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong…

    I’m more into pasta au gratin now. Discovered (and adjusted) a Chicken & Bacon pasta au gratin recipe a couple of years ago and it’s sooo creamy and good that we eat ourselves square-shaped everytime I make it. So I don’t make it that often. 😉

    6+

      1. You know what, I’ll do my best to make a legible, intelligible translation and get back to you when I’m done! Sharing recipes is my new hobby.

        2+

    1. Andie’s reaction was based on nutrition. Unless the pasta is fortified and the cheese is real, it’s mostly yellow dye and white flour. Still delicious, of course.

      4+

      1. Hmm. How would Agnes do a mac and cheese?

        And does everyone insist on Macaroni or do people choose to swop in Penne?

        0

        1. People swap in, but if you go too far and swap in spaghetti, then it’s not mac and cheese anymore.
          There are rules, ST.

          Oh, and Agnes would not mess with a classic. Four cheeses maybe, but none of that fascist bacon and ham stuff.

          4+

          1. Oh honey, you’re tellin’ me?! 🙌 Spaghetti, tagliatelle, linguine belong with alfredo or something 🍝. I just wondered if other people liked the wider diameter of penne for cheese glooping in like I did.

            I’m with Agnes then. I add marjoram because, YUM.

            0

  19. My comfort food is minestrone. Leek, carrot, celery, garlic, bay, potato, tomato paste, tinned tomatoes, 4-bean mix, stock, and greens (silverbeet, kale, spinach) and what else is in season (courgettes, peas for instance) and..macaroni! With a dollop of pesto.

    So so good, and makes you feel good inside. Isn’t that the definition of comfort food? Also it makes enough for two nights, so I get the extra pleasure of not cooking on night two, and the smug virtue of knowing my kids are eating well too.

    1+

  20. All this talk of carbs inspired me to make wild mushroom risotto in my Instant Pot last night. It was easily the most delicious one I have ever done. It is not, of course, all that instant because I first mince the dried porcini to a powder then add it to hot beef stock to reconstitute and to give a good mushroom flavor to the stock. Then I sautéed a bunch of morel mushrooms (my husband went to the farmer’s market yesterday) then I chop all the fresh herbs I need (parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme), chop some onion and grate parmesan. Then I go do whatever I was going to do for the day. At dinner time I can then cook the entire risotto in about 10 minutes. If it wasn’t for all the prep, I would have it all the time.

    1+

  21. My parentss used to make mac and cheese with caramelized onions and ground beef (pork?), and then eat it on top of whole wheat buttered toast (like a taco). Gosh, it was good! Sometimes with green peppers in it, too.

    But you needed Velveeta, and latter-day American Cheese. I’ve tried making it with real cheddar, and I usually wind up with soup, and bits of half-formed string cheese. Ick.

    Slumgullion was Spanish goulash in our house, like so many people, but with chili powder (a mix of spices, not straight chili), topped with squares of American cheese. (-: That doesn’t sound like a bad supper, but I’ll probably do it slumgullion style with the Italian spices, and some mozzarella. I like to think that the onions, peppers and tomato sauce makes it somewhat healthy.

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    1. The secret to cheese sauce is that you can’t just throw cheese on something, you have to make a roux first (milk/cream and butter melted together), which enables regular cheese to melt into a sauce.
      American cheese is leftover cheddar bits melted together with water, and my guess is that Velveeta is similar but using something other than water to make it melt. Probably a semi-roux thing.

      1+

      1. Surely a roux is made by melting butter and stirring flour into it, then letting it bubble for a minute before stirring milk in and adding your flavouring (such as grated cheese). That’s what my mother taught me, anyway.

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        1. That’s the classic French roux, which back when I was a good cook I made constantly. You can use that sucker for anything. Stir that into good pan drippings and you have gravy you want to drink with a straw.

          Or maybe that’s just me.

          2+

          1. You can make roux in large quantities and keep it in a covered container in the fridge. Then you can just break off a hunk, heat it up and whisk in hot liquid until it thickens. The hotter the stock (or other liquid), the faster it will thicken and the faster you should stir (or whisk) to avoid lumps.

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    2. Carbs on toast, my sister’s favorite meal as a child. She used to take a piece of white bread, butter it and put a layer of white beans that had been cooked with some ham hock on top. My dad always said she would grow up to be a hospital dietician.

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  22. My recent “make it slightly more healthy” trick is to substitute some of the cheese with shredded zucchini. Melts right in. I’ve also seen some that use shredded cauliflower or squash of choice (butternut, acorn, pumpkin) to match the color of the cheese.

    0

    1. Zucchini has a lot of water in it. You might want to make the cheese sauce a little tighter than usual or the water the zucchini gives off as it cooks might make it runny.

      0

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