When did cooking become audible? I don’t just mean repeating to myself an ingredient that I’m searching for in overstuffed cupboards.
For a several reasons, I don’t cook often. My husband has done most of the cooking for a long time. Occasionally, a recipe or an event will prod me into action. Lately, I have been trying to replicate macaroni and cheese like I used to eat in high school.
Lunch in high school cost $1.50 and consisted of an entree, three sides and a beverage. On Fridays the menu included a creamy macaroni and cheese that I heartily endorsed by asking for an entree portion accompanied by three sides of the delectable pasta dish. If my milk could have been replaced by my favorite food, I’m sure that I would have done that, too.
I hadn’t thought about this ritual until I recently met a friend at Tim Horton’s and decided to try, what has become for me, of late, an unusual side dish. Macaroni and cheese.
I was in lust again. It seemed the perfect clone for what I’d had half a century ago during my much thinner days.
Since that fateful stop, I’ve been perusing cookbooks and the internet to find a plausible clone for the elusive recipe.
A few weeks ago, I found a candidate in a usually reliable source, a new America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook.
Some of the ingredients had to be purchased fresh from the grocery, others were already found on my cupboard shelves.
Fortunately, the largest saucepan was not buried in the unending corner cupboard. I easily pulled it out, filled it with water, reached above the stove for salt, sprinkled some into the pan’s water, replaced the salt and turned on the stove.
Step two, getting a casserole dish large enough for all the macaroni. “Large enough” in our kitchen means that it is under a stack of like, but smaller, vessels. “Unh!” was audible as I thought, “When did these get so heavy?” taking a pile of casseroles out of a lower cupboard onto a stool then separating those I didn’t need to return them to the low shelf.
Step three, reaching the food processor on top of the upper cupboards. Fortunately, the device was placed up there so that it hung over the edge. It still was a stretch to balance it down. The bread-ends I needed to pulse were on the third shelf of the frig, at the back. The perfect spot to torment my back. Before I found all the slices I needed, my back said, “Enough!” resulting in a very loud moaning from my mouth, Uh, uh, uh!” This was the first sound that resulted in an, “Are you okay, Mom?” from Son in the dining room. I assured him that I was.
It is time for a pause to let the reader know, the kitchen is very closed off from the rest of the house, only a single door opening into the dining room. Usually the person (Husband) in the kitchen talking to others in the house — Son in dining room and me in living room —cannot be understood. So it was notable that my predicaments were obvious.
The fourth step was easy, developing the roux into a creamy cheese sauce. No audibles here.
The penultimate step required Panko crumbs which were on the highest shelf over a counter. “I didn’t used to have trouble reaching that shelf. Am I shrinking?” came out as a very loud, “Unh” as I stretched to tipple the bottom of the can in my direction. Again, from the dining room, “Are you okay?”
“Yes, hon. I was just trying to reach the bread crumbs.”
“Did you get them?”
“Yes. I did. Thanks.” Although I noticed he didn’t get up from his computer to check.
The layout of the kitchen is wanting (one of the reasons I don’t cook in there.). One of the things it “wants” is space. Especially in front of the oven. One can not stand in front of the oven and open the oven door. Well, if one is paper thin, it could be done, but no one in our household meets that requirement.
This means dishes put in the oven are done so from the left side. To eliminate any more audio clues, I calmly called, “Help.”
Husband answered, “What do you need?” I could tell that he was walking towards the kitchen.
He put the macaroni and cheese in the oven and returned to remove it 20 minutes later.
The result was a creamy but anemic looking (pale yellow vs vibrant) dish. We all were disappointed with the results. The disappointment was not just because of the taste. It was also because of the quantity.
We’re going to be eating the leftovers for weeks.