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Macaroni & Cheese

For the past two days I’ve been holed up in my apartment, sick.  Yesterday I took in way more Criminal Minds/Gilmore Girls than is probably healthy (though they may cancel each other out) and got winded chasing down the UPS man who was trying to drive off without delivering our new computer.  That’s right, ladies & gents, this recipe is coming at you from our brand new 27″ iMac, dubbed Admiral Adama.  And yes, we named our beautiful new computer after Edward James Olmos’ character on Battlestar Galactica.  We’re nerds.  We’re also planning on naming our puppy Starbuck.

Anyway I am incapable of just being home sick because I always feel I should be doing something.  So I made macaroni and cheese.  Because I didn’t feel good and I wanted the creamy, sweet and spicy goodness that homemade macaroni and cheese can be.  Plus, once the computer was delivered I decided to wait for Dan to get here to set it up so taking pictures of cooking and fantasizing about them on the giant HD screen was as close to feeling good as I could get.  And, naturally, promptly after sticking the dish in the oven I collapsed on the couch, exhausted.

Homemade macaroni and cheese is a pretty simple meal.  Not nearly as simple as opening a packet of powdered cheese and dumping it straight into boiled pasta, but you know, easy compared to making your own bread or some of the other things I encourage you to do here on a regular basis.  In fact, I would venture a guess that the majority of you could pull this off on a weeknight.  Or you could make it ahead and freeze it.  What I’m trying to say is that I made it while dying of the flu* so it shouldn’t be a problem for you to pull off anytime.  Just some shredding, boiling, combining, and baking.

I’m going to go ahead and admit that editing these photos was way more of a pleasure than cooking, or even eating, this dish.  I mean, this computer (and it’s giant screen) has had me making a stream of exclamations that sounds more like a “that’s what she said” joke than anything else.  But I can’t help myself, I’m totally enamored and expect to fall further in love once Dan and I have figured out the logistics of sharing a computer.  That, naturally, will be the hard part.

This could be because I’m almost as much of a computer nerd as I am a food geek.  In fact, sitting in front of it’s giant screen right now and thinking how much more I like this than editing on the couch with my 15″ MacBook, I’d venture to say that really only pie could beat this feeling right now.  Anyway, back to my disjointed and rambling post.  This recipe is, as I said, easy.  But also delicious by all mac n’ cheese standards.  It’s creamy, filling, sweet and a little spicy, with just the right ratio of gooey inner cheese to crunchy outer cheese.  I use spices such as paprika and nutmeg to give it a different flavor profile, but feel free to tweak it to your wants and needs.  It’s great for curling up in front of the tv and watching your favorite bad shows, perfect for this time of year when your body is TIRED OF THE COLD but they’re forecasting snow.

*I may not be literally dying.  It just feels like it. {drama queen} Also, if you look closely at the last picture, you’ll see Edward J. Olmos on the far right of the screen.

Macaroni & Cheese

1 lb penne pasta

1 1/2 cups white cheddar cheese

1 cup extra sharp yellow cheddar cheese

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

4 tbsp flour

4 cups milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 small lemon, juiced

1/2 stick butter

Shred all of your cheese.  Measure out all your spices.

In a sauce pan, heat milk & cream over low/medium heat.  If the pan gets too hot, the milk will curdle.

In another pan, melt butter.  Whisk in flour, making sure there are no clumps.  Slowly whisk in warm milk mixture.  Remove from heat and add 3/4 of all the cheeses and the spices.  Continue to stir until cheese has melted and formed a sauce.  The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Stir in the lemon juice

Boil your pasta 3-4 minutes until slightly cooked but still very firm.  Preheat your oven to 350.

Drain your pasta and pour into casserole dish.  Pour cheese sauce over and stir slightly to coat.  Top with the remaining cheese, spread evenly over the top.  Bake for 35 minutes, or until the pasta is tender and the cheese has a nice brown crust.

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Cutting an Onion

The Finer Points.

So in my life list I pledged to start creating one video a month for b&s. This was in lieu of an attempted foray into video tutorials last year that went nowhere. Later I regretted not being more active so today I bring you this month’s video installment.

I took advantage of a brief moment of clarity in Ulysses’ final days and edited and uploaded a video I made last week of how to chop an onion with minimal assault to your tear ducts.  I am constantly a victim of onion induced tears, so when I learned the proper way to cut an onion I was super excited.  I’m probably still not doing it right but it works for me and I hope it works for you too.

The video walks you through cutting an onion, but I’ll do it here too just to be redundant.  First, slice the onion down the middle, leaving half of the root on each half.  The root is going to be what holds the onion together while you slice it.  Cut off the end opposite the root and peel the papery layers off.  Now make vertical slices across the onion, keeping your knife short of the root.  You want to make sure the root stays connected to the onion as long as possible so that it can hold it all together.  Turn your knife and cut into the onion, towards the root (parallel to the original cut, when you cut the onion in half).  Finally, turn your knife again and slice the onion off in rows.  The cuts you made earlier will mean that what falls off is cut almost completely uniformly.

Enjoy!

 

Cutting an Onion from elena rosemond-hoerr on Vimeo.

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DC Happy Hour & The Death of Ulysses

I am going to begin this post, which is mostly an anecdote, by telling you how I ended up with my current computer, Ulysses S. Grant.  You see, long before Dan and I started dating, we were friends.  Good friends.  The kind of friends that harbored secret crushes on each other and watched a lot of CSI together.  We met in a class called Exhibition Development Seminar at the Maryland Institute College of Art.  This class was the beginning of what would become MICA’s curatorial studies program.  It gave students the opportunity to (in our case) work with local museums designing every facet of an exhibition.  Dan came on as a web designer and I dove head first into museum education.  I spent three years in the program, the first two were with Dan working on an incredibly intense exhibition called At Freedom’s Door: Challenging Slavery in Maryland. Dan and I joke that if we had actually started dating while we were working on this project we never would have made it, the work was more than any of my other classes combined.

Anyway, one day my sophomore year we had a presentation at Morgan University, an HBCU near Baltimore.  I had brought my computer, my beautiful, giant MacBook Pro with all of my personal information (none of it backed up) so that Dan could use it to give a presentation (he had a desktop).  I showed up and handed it over to be hooked up to the projector.  All went perfectly, it was fine and dandy, until we forgot it.  Somehow in the aftermath of class I thought Dan had it and he thought I had it and it got… forgotten.  By the time I realized nobody had it I was out to dinner with some friends.  I rushed back to Morgan, calling Dan frantically along the way, but it was gone.  Someone had taken it and although Dan and I made a few trips back to Morgan to bug the head of security there was someone out there with all of my stuff.  Which, it turns out, is very scary.

Anyway, shortly after I got my first credit card and purchased a MacBook, named it Ulysses and have had a close personal relationship ever since.  He’s been doing well, plugging along for 5 years.  Last year Dan replaced the harddrive and earlier this year he had to dive in and disconnect the broken optic drive, but the fact that this computer still runs is a near miracle.  It’s been dropped, schlepped to class and on trips and back and forth to jobs.  It’s been in the kitchen dangerously close to hot water and ingredients.  It’s processed thousands upon thousands of photos and taken it like a champ.  Until now.  A few weeks ago it started randomly restarting, and then apparently my kernels panicked.  Dan replaced something but it’s still acting funky so last night we bought a new iMac.  It’ll be here next week and we’ve already decided to name it Admiral Adama.

The point of me sharing all this is that right now my computer isn’t processing much when it happens to be awake.  Which means that posting for the next week is going to be light at best.  I wanted to apologize in advance and promise that I’d be back in action as soon as the Admiral was up and running.  In the mean time, if you’re a D.C. area food blogger, you should stop by Aagain on February 3rd for a happy hour.  After the potluck a few weeks ago I joined the planning committee, along with Arugula Files, Beer Spotter, Capital Cooking, Capital Spice, Common Man Eats, Dining in DC, Gradually Greener, Modern Domestic, Thrifty DC Cook, and We Love DC.  RSVP here.

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