A Driveway and Some Mac and Cheese
This is our driveway. It has a concrete half-wall to block the hill of ground from flooding into our driveway. It works pretty well, but we still had big mounds of dirt up next to the wall from run-off/landslides/rain/whatever. Pleasant. Because, not only was it a hilly driveway, it's also curvy. Look again. See? So, with winter deciding to take a break for a day last Saturday (I wore a t-shirt! Outside!), we decided to conquer the driveway. Shovels? check. Rake? check. Gloves? check. Saw? (for rude roots) check. Trash cans? check. Broom? check. Muscles? check. Sonic drink? check. Tunes? check. A few hours later it looked like this. Look again. YAY!! So much better. Sorry I don't have a before picture, but at least you can see some of the remains to get an idea of how it was.
After so much lugging, bending, lifting, kicking, and pulling - ok, not that much kicking - it was comforting to have leftovers in the fridge for dinner. Not only leftovers, but rich and you-deserve-something-nice-here-have-a-bite-of-this macaroni and cheese. My favorite parts about this were: the southwestern mix of pasta we got in Seattle last fall, the super-simple and very tasty bread crumb (torn pieces of bread) topping, the use of nutmeg and cayenne pepper, and that I had enough cheese in the first place to make it. I did however lose my mind and didn't use any kind of real milk product - even though we had it. I used soy milk - because that's what I have with cereal, and I don't drink milk much anymore... Anyway, wouldn't really recommend vanilla soymilk. It was still very good, though.
MARTHA’S MACARONI and CHEESE printer-friendly version
via Smitten Kitchen
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for casserole
6 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to l/2-inch pieces
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more for water
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar cheese
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyère or 1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 pound elbow macaroni
1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place the bread in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour the melted butter into the bowl with the bread, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside.
2. Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Melt the remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When the butter bubbles, add the flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.
3. While whisking, slowly pour in the hot milk a little at a time to keep mixture smooth. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick, 8 to 12 minutes.
4. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar cheese, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyère (or 1 cup Pecorino Romano); set the cheese sauce aside.
5. Cover a large pot of salted water, and bring to a boil. Cook the macaroni until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir the macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.
6. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Gruyère (or 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano), and the breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes (though we needed a bit more time to get it brown, but your oven may vary). Transfer the dish to a wire rack for 5 minutes; serve.