I used to live on a farm.
Well, that’s not entirely true, but it sounds awfully Anne-of-Green-Gables-adorable, don’t you think? (Full disclosure: I’ve never read Anne of Green Gables, nor have I seen the movie, but I assume she is adorable. Plus she’s a Canadian, and – being one myself and all – I’m rather partial to those). I actually lived on a property with a 36-horse stable in the backyard. For a brief period we also housed a miniature donkey. There were three barn cats and two house dogs and quite a few mice (the barn cats were fed by sympathetic horse owners, and subsequently did not seem to feel the need to do their rodent-population-limiting job. Instead they would tear the legs off frogs, and leave the various body parts hidden in bales of hay to fly out and land on my roommates and me when we would go to feed the horses. This is likely one of the major contributing factors to my dislike of cats).
I lived with two other girls in adorable yellow house in front of the barn that was my first real experience living away from my family (I don’t count residence at university because if you physically can’t cook for yourself then you are not independent. Although I did try to bake a cake once in a toaster oven. I don’t recommend it). You will probably judge me after reading this story (but let’s be honest, it won’t be the first or the last time), but the first time I went to turn on the dishwasher, I used the only soap I could find in our kitchen: dish washing liquid. I came back later to a kitchen filled waist-high with bubbles. In my defence, nowhere on the dish soap bottle did it say a) hand-washing or b) do not use in the dishwasher.
In that kitchen we also had an Aga stove, and if I ever own one again I will die happy. We came home after many late nights to lie on the Aga-warmed kitchen floor and eat macaroni and cheese and gossip about boys. We put a lasagna in the oven to bake while we watched chick flicks and got ready for a party, and pulled out a blackened block hours later. I blame most of my sophomore sixteen (see what I did there?) on that stove.
It was glorious.
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
My mother’s recipe, which she adapted from the Best of Bridge
two and a half cups macaroni
quarter cup butter
quarter cup flour
two cups milk
one teaspoon salt
two thirds cup sour cream
one and one third cups cottage cheese
four cups cheese, grated (I used mostly a mix of mild and strong cheddar, and threw in a bit of four-cheese mix because I happened to have some in my fridge)
one and a half cups panko breadcrumbs
two tablespoons butter
If baking right away, preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. If not, see note below.
Cook and drain macaroni.
In a large saucepan (you can use the one you just cooked the macaroni in), melt the quarter cup of butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour and mix well. Add milk, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens. Add the salt, sour cream and cottage cheese and two cups of grated cheese. Add the macaroni back into the saucepan and stir well.
Pour macaroni and cheese into a casserole dish. Sprinkle the remaining grated cheese and breadcrumbs evenly over the top. Dot with pats of butter (the two tablespoons) and sprinkle with paprika.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and the topping is browned.
Note: Can be frozen immediately before the baking stage for as long as necessary – I think mine hung out in my freezer for about five months.
Love notes: This is my 100th post! (…!!!) I would have made cake, but (just like when I ignored convention on my blog’s birthday) I just wasn’t in the mood. So you got cheese instead.
Moral of the story: heartfelt thanks to all of you who read the junk that spews out from dusty corners of my brain every four or so days. I know it can be scary and weird and uncomfortable at times. Here’s to pushing the boundaries for another 100 posts. Maybe by then I’ll be in the mood for cake.