Sunday, November 28, 2010

Post Thanksgiving-Thanksgiving Meal

As the Baking Midwife was busy this year helping babies into the world, we celebrated a day late.  We had a quiet Thanksgiving sans turkey as opposed to last year when I hosted a large meal for 9. 

Big meals are great for the festivity and conversation, but quiet is nice too.  More time for dwelling on food, drink and each other.

Here is our meal in photos.
Cranberry Chutney cooking

Cranberry Chutney finished
Mashed Potatoes - a little lumpy unfortunately
Rustic Herb Stuffing
Goat Cheese Souffle
Yeah that was my plate - Yum!

Some of our favorite Belgian Beer to wash it all down

Mashed Sweet Potatoes for the Dessert

Coconut-Sweet Potato Pie

The recipe for Cranberry Chutney comes from All Recipes.  This is the second year I've used it and it's great for those guests who don't like the typical taste of cranberry sauce.

Both the recipe for the Mashed Potatoes and the Rustic Herb Stuffing came from the November issue of Bon Appetit.  I left out the celery and Swiss chard from the Stuffing because Partner in Crime wanted a standard no frills stuffing and I'm not a fan of celery. 

The Coconut Sweet Potato Pie recipe came from the Minimalist on the NY Times.  It was good, better cold in my opinion although it says to serve it at room temperature.

For our main dish I served a Goat Cheese Souffle.  Souffles are a great entree for a special occasion at a vegetarian's table.  Every time I make one I marvel at how simple it is to make and how delicious it is.  The I wonder why don't I make these more often.  I got my recipe from a vegetarian cookbook that I've been using for years, really since early college.  It's one of those cookbooks that I'm pretty sure are sold off the bargain rack at Barnes and Noble.  But it has done me well time and time again.

Here is the recipe.

Goat Cheese Souffle
Adapted slightly from Vegetarian:  The Best-Ever Recipe Collection by Linda Fraser

3 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 c milk
grated Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling
1 1/2 oz herb and garlic soft cheese, like Boursin
5 oz firm goat cheese, diced
6 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
salt and black pepper

*Serves 4

Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat.  Add the flour, stir to mix well, and the cook until sandy brown, stirring occasionally.  Then pour in half of the milk, stirring vigorously until mostly smooth.  Add the remaining milk, a pinch of salt and a few dashes each of nutmeg and black pepper.  Reduce heat and simmer gently for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Butter a 1 1/2 quart souffle dish and sprinkle with Parmesan.

Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in both the goat and soft cheeses.

Separate eggs and place egg whites into a medium sized bowl.  Beat or whisk until frothy.  Then add cream of tartar.  Continue to beat, increasing the speed.  Soft peaks will form, beat just a little longer until stiffer peaks form that flop over a bit. 

Take a large spoonful of the egg whites and mix in with cheese sauce.  Then pour cheese sauce into bowl with remaining egg whites and mix with a spoon until just combined.

Pout mixture into prepared souffle dish and bake for 25-30 minutes until puffed on top and golden brown.  Serve immediately.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


There are days when I am so busy at work that I can't remember what month it is.  Days where I spend 24 complete hours awake on Labor and Delivery and I never make it off the locked unit.  Not even to go down to the cafeteria.

There have been too many days like that recently, which is why I'm only just getting around to telling you about this Chili that I made on Halloween.

It's a black bean chili that I've been making since college, great for the crisp autumn weather or a one of those freezing cold February days in New England.  I prefer black beans to kidney beans for the taste.   This particular chili has a tangy flavor, it melds together sweet and just a tad spicy.

The day before Halloween, J and I had one of those incredible meandering days.  Our plan was to go and visit some good friends who just had a new baby.  I happened to know of a great place to eat breakfast, a picturesque farm near where they lived so we started the day off there.  Mmmm...sweet potato pancakes and veggie sausage with, of course, maple syrup from the farm.  We still hadn't heard from the new parents so went off to explore a town nearby that at first seemed a little underwhelming.  Clearly an old mill town, it was beautiful but seemed to lack any points of interest.  That is until we came across the old York Theatre, which has been converted into a bowling alley.  It still has much of the original architecture and is apparently haunted. 

I promise there's a point to this story.  A few games later, we heard from our friends and went for some cuddle time with Julia.  Afterwards, we decided to head up to Brattleboro, VT for the remainder of the afternoon, since we were so close.  We ate dinner at Firework's Restaurant and I enjoyed an arugula salad with roasted butternut squash, lentils, and goat cheese. 

The roasted butternut squash was perfect and got me thinking about using it with my Black Bean Chili.  Apparently this is not too novel of an idea, but it was for me.  Delicious too.

Of course, you have to add the cheese and sour cream!

Black Bean Chili with Butternut Squash
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup yellow onion, chopped
1/2 lb frozen bell peppers, stir fry mix or about 2-3 red, yellow and green peppers, chopped
1 cup cubed fresh butternut squash
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp oregano
2 15-oz cans black, beans, drained
2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes and green chiles
2 Tbsp tomato paste
Cayenne pepper optional

Using a large stock pot, heat oil over medium heat for approximately one minute.  Add onion, bell peppers, butternut squash, garlic, cumin and oregano and mix together well.  Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until onions are translucent, peppers are limp and squash is just beginning to soften.  

Add 1 1/2cans of black beans, both cans of tomatoes, tomato paste and and 2-3 dashes of cayenne pepper.  Stir well.  Bring to a boil, then adjust temperature so that mixture is bubbling slightly.

Simmer for about 10 minutes.  With the leftover black beans, mash them up well, and after 10 minutes, mix in and cover.  Simmer for an additional 15 minutes or until squash has softened.  Add salt, pepper, and more cayenne pepper to taste.

Serve over rice or alone, with a dab of sour cream and some shredded cheese.  
Optional side dish - a warm fire and cozy slippers.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

No Baking for this Midwife

I discovered my oven (which has been giving me some issues recently) was no longer lighting and heating (it's gas) this past Tuesday in the throes of a baking session.   Luckily only the dry ingredients of the pumpkin muffins had been mixed when I checked the oven and realized it was not preheated or heating at all.  This is the story of that day and what I made instead.

So I tried to light the pilot, which I assumed had gone out, only to discover that this gas oven has an electronic ignition for the oven and cannot be lit manually.  This is a rental house, and the oven much predates us, so I had to discover all this info laying on my stomach looking into the broiler with a headlamp strapped to my head and then rushing up to google gas stoves pilot light systems.

Even though we are mere tenants in this humble abode, we entered into a strange arrangement where we are in charge of all the appliances.  Yes you read that right.  This included the washer and dryer which were broken right away when we moved in.  Unbeknownst to us the washer had a massive leak!  J attempted a load of laundry only to find all the water that emptied into the washer, empty onto the floor.  So we purchased a new washer and dryer.  These things were on there last legs.  Oh and I almost forgot about the ghettofication of the dryer!  It had a latch on it to keep it shut because it wouldn't stay shut on it's own anymore.  These were just a few of the nightmares we faced moving into our house.

For the first few weeks, we felt like Tom Hanks and Shelley Long in The Money Pit.  So when something like this happens and the landlord is unwilling to even give a recommendation of someone to call, it's not surprising.

As great as it would be to have a brand new oven, that is not the plan.  Sears is coming out on Wednesday and I'm hoping for a simple fix.

So back to Tuesday when I first discovered my predicament.  Halfway into whole wheat pumpkin muffins with plans for Tarte aux Oignons for dinner, I had to come up with a new plan.  Luckily it did not affect the stovetop so we made bean and cheese quesadillas for dinner.

I also quickly came up for an oven less dessert.  Chocolate Covered Banana Bites with Crystallized Ginger - Yum.  Easy and delicious.

Chocolate Covered Banana Bites with Crystallized Ginger
3 medium to large ripe bananas
6 oz dark chocolate (I used Ghiradelli 60% dark chocolate chips)
2-3 pieces of crystallized ginger, thinly chopped

Serves 4

Cut banana into 3-4 chunks.  Line a platter or a baking sheet with wax paper.

Boil about a cup of water in a medium sized pot.  Once water is boiling place heat proof bowl or double boiler over boiling water with chocolate chips in it.  Stir chocolate chips constantly until they are completely melted and smooth.  Add crystallized ginger and mix in.

Using a fork or toothpick, take each banana chunk and one by one, coat in melted chocolate and place on wax paper.  When all pieces of banana have been coated, place platter of chocolate covered bananas in the fridge for the chocolate to set.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pumpkin Curry Soup

Soup equals comfort.  We nurse it when we're sick and take it it's hearty warmth when the temperature starts to dip down in the fall.  I'm pretty sure it actually carries curative properties.   

It's usually pretty easy to throw together and is perfect as a main course or a side dish.

This particular soup - Pumpkin Curry - blends together the mild sweet of pumpkin and the robust kick of curry powder.  I got the recipe from a midwife, Susan, that I worked with for about 2 years.  She used to make it for her kids when they were younger.

I've served it with Thanksgiving dinner two years in a row with rave reviews and J and I enjoy it a few times each fall.  It's excellent next to a grilled cheese sandwich (think Chipotle Cheddar on Sourdough) but great on it's own as well.

The pumpkin can be fresh pumpkin puree or from a can (just make sure its canned pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling).  I prefer using fresh pumpkin puree.  There are several ways to accomplish this but I roast a sugar pumpkin (halved, removing seeds and pulp) in the oven at 350F for 45 min-1 hr until soft.  Then you scoop out the flesh and puree in blender.  You'll have enough for this recipe and maybe one or two other pumpkin delicacies (pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin pancakes).  For alternative ways to cook a pumpkin go here

Pumpkin Curry Soup

1 cup yellow onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/4 cup butter (can be cut it down to a tablespoon or so, and olive oil if needed)
1 tsp curry (more to taste)
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 to 1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
3 cups vegetable broth or stock (Both work)
2 cups (16 oz) pumpkin puree (see above note)
1 cup light cream
Saute onion and garlic in butter until soft.  Add seasonings, cook 1 minute. Add broth, boil gently 15-20 minutes.  Add pumpkin and cream, stir in, blend in blender, then heat for serving.

Note--it is fine served right away, but better prepared a day in advance. You can blend at whatever stage is easiest.

Beer and Bake Sales

Banging Chocolate Gingerbread Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

Whew  - last week was crazy, and now I'm still recovering.  We had A LOT of babies last week, maybe because of the Nor'easter that came in Friday.  I have still been cooking and baking, just have not had the time to write about said cooking and baking.

I do have a confession  - I have another obsession.  It's roller derby.  I'm completely in love with this sport and have played for about a year now.  One thing we've started doing at our games to make some extra money is hold a bake sale, which I organize and always bake for.

So this past weekend was the last bouting weekend of the season and we had 3 games to put together.  It was all amazing and I was psyched because our bake sale pulled in double what we normally make.  After helping organize bake sales at maybe 5 events in the past 10 months, I'm beginning to catch on to what people like to buy.

So I've compiled a list of how to hold a successful bake sale for an adult crowd (although there are inevitably kids at a roller derby bout, and they flock to the bake table).

1)  Have a lot of cupcakes for sale - these babies sell out like crazy.  And for some reason, having something on top like a gummy eyeball or a candy heart, makes them even more appealing.  So go crazy with the decoration.

2)  Sell lots of stuff with frosting - this always goes - no explanation needed.

Copious amounts of Cream Cheese Frosting

3)  Do not wrap your items in individual bags - they will be ignored and you will end up eating bite size vegan muffins (that are very delectable by the way) for breakfast all week.  My feeling about this is that people want homemade items and even if the individually wrapped goods are homemade, people subconsciously think that it isn't.

4)  If at all possible, serve beer or sell baked goods in the general vicinity of beer drinking.

5)  Brownies and chocolate chip cookies always sell.

6)  So do Black and White Cookies (frosting + unity = world peace)

World Peace on a tray

The Baking Midwife made Smitten Kitchen's Black and White Cookies and Gingerbread Bagel's Chocolate Gingerbread Bars 

Both frosted and both sold well.  The best compliment of the night was when this guy said my Chocolate Gingerbread Bars were banging (well there was an expletive on the front of that, but I think my mom reads this...).

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Flourless Apple and Almond Cake

I, like many other aspiring cooks, have been thinking a lot about apples lately.  Apples are bountiful in the fall, as are the things you can do with them. 

I've recently discovered a wild apple tree near our home but I've been nervous to try the apples (crab apples) which may or not be to my liking.  Last year I saw a whole bunch of apples scattered in a bunch in a different area, several with large messy bites taken out of them.  My hypothesis at the time was that the bear that was rumored to be around the neighborhood was the culprit.  I've had a crab apple once, in North Carolina, and I remember distinctly not being impressed.  Maybe the bear was not impressed either. 


I am not brave enough or tall enough to try these apples however, and this cake came from apples I picked at a local orchard.  Macs and Gravensteins.  Although you could use basically any apple that is good for baking.  I always like a mix of sweet and slightly tart.
I got the idea to make a flourless Almond Cake when I saw a post on Honey Almond Cake from Anja's Food 4 Thought.  But I wanted to do something slightly different and definitely with apples, so I did some searching and came across Citrus and Candy's Flourless Apple and Almond Teacake.

I made several adaptations, the first was to cut the sugar significantly.  I've used almond flour before and really love the taste.  I also was hoping that the sweetness of the apples would carry the cake.

And it did.  I used 1/2 cup raw sugar with 1/3 cup honey.  I think it would be delicious with just honey too although you could increase the amount slightly.  I also reduced it to 3 eggs and added 1/2 cup plain low fat yogurt mostly to keep that almond flour nice and moist.

This was one of those recipes where you've changed so much that you put it in the oven and send a little prayer up to the baking goddesses that everything is gonna be alright.  I had a moment of panic where I thought, this looks awfully watery, should I add some all purpose flour?  I decided against it and am glad I held out.

The resulting cake was delicious, with crisp apples on top, the ones on the edges sunk into the flaky almond pastry, and moist, almondy apples inside peppered with cloves.

Flourless Apple and Almond Cake
Adapted from Citrus and Candy
5-6 apples (mixture of sweet and tart)
1/4 tsp ground cloves
4 Tbsp butter
2 c Almond Meal
2 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c raw sugar, plus more to sprinkle on top of cake
3 eggs
1/3 c honey
1/2 c plain yogurt (low fat or whole milk)

Preheat oven to 325 F.  Butter 9 inch springform pan and set aside.  

Cut 3 of the apples (unpeeled) into small wedges.  In a skillet over medium heat, melt 2 Tbsp butter, then add apples.  Add ground cloves and 2 dashes cinnamon and cook apples for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Cook apples until they are soft and just starting to change color.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together almond flour, baking powder, ground ginger, and salt.  

In a separate medium bowl, beat together eggs, sugar, and honey until the mixture becomes pale and thickens.  This may take about 4-5 minutes.  Now add yogurt and beat together for another minute or so.  Add almond mixture and stir together gently.

Fold in sauteed apples and pour mixture into greased springform pan.  Take remaining apples and slice thinly (start with 2 but have the third handy in case you need it.)  If you have a stand-up mixer, you can slice the apples while the egg mixture is mixing.  

With remaining 2 Tbsp of butter, melt in microwave (5 second intervals) or on the stove, then let cool slightly.  Place sliced apples on top of cake batter in concentric circles.  Apple slices may sink in slightly.  Drizzle melted butter on top and then sprinkle on small amount of raw sugar and cinnamon.

Bake in the oven 60-70 minutes at 325F, until knife comes out clean.  Let cool before serving.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Baked Eggs Over Goat Cheese, Spinach, Red Pepper and Cherry Tomatoes

I love breakfast, but am not a morning person.  This is not really a dilemma on days off or if you have a job that doesn't require your presence at any particular time.  Unfortunately the latter is not the case for me.  Most days I need to be at work at 8 or 9 am.  Which I know, is not particularly trying, but for a non-morning person, you don't get up at the same time everyday to make breakfast on the late days.  You sleep in and then continue to press snooze until you just have enough time to shower, dress, and pick up an iced coffee at the local liquor/bagel/ice cream shop (I have no idea how they came up with this particular combo, but it works).

Last week, I had a quiet night on call Monday, so ended up sleeping in my own bed.  I woke up early without the alarm, because I was still adjusting from my jet lag.  And I decided to take the opportunity to make breakfast.

Baked eggs had been on my mind for more than a month, and we still had a few things left from the garden.  I picked a pepper and some cherry tomatoes and set to work.

Baked eggs are cooked in individual ramekins, which Partner in Crime and I decided makes them even more appealing.  Now I had never done this before, but decided for construction I would place the sauteed veggies on the bottom of the ramekin (after buttering), place a round of goat cheese on top, and then break the egg on top of that.  This turned out to be perfect, and dipping in with some toast divine as you get to each layer.  One baked egg with toast would probably be sufficient for a breakfast serving, but we indulged and ate two each.

Baked Eggs Over Goat Cheese, Spinach, Red Pepper and Cherry Tomatoes
olive oil
butter (for the ramekins)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 medium red bell pepper
15 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 large handfuls of baby spinach
crushed red pepper
goat cheese, about 2 oz
4 eggs
3-4 Tbsp of cream, half and half or whole milk
Serves 2-4, depending on how hungry you are.

First grease 4 individual ramekins with butter and set aside.  Preheat oven to 350F

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a medium sized frying pan over medium heat.  Add garlic and stir while it cooks.  Be careful not to burn the garlic.  Now add the red pepper, stirring occasionally, and cook until just tender.  Add cherry tomatoes and spinach and cook until spinach is wilted.  Add 1-2 dashes of crushed red pepper and 2 dashes of salt.  Remove mixture from heat.

Now divide vegetable mixture equally among the 4 ramekins.   Place a 1/4-1/2 inch round of goat cheese on top of the mixture in each ramekin.  Break an egg in each ramekin, taking care for the yolk to remain intact.   To keep the top moist, pour 1/2-1 Tbsp of half and half (or cream or whole milk) over the top of each egg.  Start with 1/2 Tbsp and add more as necessary to moisten to entire surface of the egg.

Bake at 350F for about 12-15 minutes until the white of the egg is completely cooked and the goat cheese is beginning to bubble up around the edges.  Serve warm with toast for dipping. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Something about the Way the Wind Blows

This week has been a blur of work, jet lag, and not very much baking or cooking.  I did manage to squeeze a few homemade meals in between the naps and the trying not to nap so I can kick the jet lag.

As soon as I left the airport, I could feel autumn upon me.  Sure the nights had been cooler before I left for Thailand, but this was different.  The leaves had really started to change, and this week the trees have exploded into a gorgeous palate of color.  There's a different feel in the air too, something about the way the wind blows and the air smells.  I love it.

I am not a native New Englander, nor do I consider myself a New Englander (although I admit the place is growing on me).  I come from a place where the changes of season don't really happen reliably or at all - South Florida.  The first time that I recall seeing snow was when I was interviewing for grad schools.

Maybe I'm more attune to the change since it's relatively new to me.  Or maybe not.

I love the change in flavors too.  Pumpkin, apples, pears, sweet potatoes - yum!  I went apple picking with some friends before I left for Thailand, but was so busy I couldn't get around to using my peck of Gravenstein and McIntosh apples.  So I stored them in the fridge and dreamed of homemade applesauce, apple butter, and tarte tartin on the flight home.

One of my favorite desserts growing up was my mother's apple crisp, but I never tried my own until a few years ago.  I've since lost that recipe and decided last week to look for a new one.  I was preparing Roti with red curry sauce for dinner and thought that would be the flavor for my first blog post back from Thailand. 

Apparently it was not meant to be.  I have not yet mastered the art of Southern Thai/Malaysian cooking and actually ruined the Ghee I was trying to make.  Casualties included 3 Tbsp butter and a plastic measuring cup (can we just blame that on the jet lag?). 

In the midst of the cooking disaster I managed to prepare 4 delicious individual Apple Crisps based off of a recipe from Joy of Baking.

Dessert saved the day!

Individual Apple Crisps
adapted from Joy of Baking Apple Crisp
Serves 4

1/4 c all purpose flour
1/8 c white sugar
1/8 c light brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
3 Tbsp salted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 1/2 heaping Tbsp rolled oats
2 1/2 Tbsp chopped walnuts
3 cups of sweet and tart apples (I used Gravenstein and McIntosh and like to always use a combination when baking with apples), cored and cut into 1 inch chunks.  Peel if you wish, I prefer unpeeled.
1/4 fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbsp white sugar
Garam Masala to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Butter 4 individual ramekins.

For the topping, combine flour, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, butter, rolled oats, and walnuts in a food processor or blender.  Blend until the mixture is crumbly.

In a medium to large bowl combine apples, lemon juice and white sugar.  Divide apple mixture equally among 4 ramekins.  Spoon crumble topping over apples and spread so it is mostly covering apples.  Add 2-3 dashes of Garam Masala to each ramekin.

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the crumble top is golden brown and the apple mixture is sizzling.  Let cool slightly before serving.

Friday, September 17, 2010

J's No-Pants Mac n' Cheese

Hello everybody.  As you all know the Baking Midwife is off galavanting around Thailand this week.  After much prodding, she graciously consented to me doing a guest post while she was away, and by "consented" I mean I just kept bugging her about it until she was too exhausted to resist.

So this week we will be revisiting one of my old college standbys, mac n' cheese!  I briefly considered trying something more adventurous for this blog post, but I'm a practical man.  I know my role pretty well.  There are things in life that I excel at and then there's cooking (also sports, singing, and most things involving science).  But that's the joy of being in a couple!  You meet someone who compliments your faults so they can cover for you in all the areas in which you suck.  So, needless to say, I lack some of the culinary prowess of my better half and usually defer to her around dinner time.  When the need arises for sarcastic commentary or an encyclopedic knowledge of 80's video games, I take the lead.  When it comes to cooking or delivering babies, I take on a support role (coincidentally, in both of those scenarios my responsibility is usually to boil water).

The Misses is away.  Not going to need these.
Now my love of mac n' cheese is a matter of public record.  This is not a lantern I hide under a bushel.  I let that light shine for all to see.  Along with tiramisu, it is one item on the menu I am compelled to sample at every restaurant I go to.  In my travels I've tasted the best and the worst of what is commercially available.  The Baking Midwife even made a homemade variety for me once that was both delicious and entirely too complicated for me to replicate.

You see, for me, the joy of mac n' cheese is the incredibly small amount of attention you have to give it while it's cooking.  Recipes that allow me to wander off for long periods of time appeal to me.  I like to tell people that it's because I'm a man of many interests and I just can't spare the time to focus exclusively on the mundane task of feeding myself.  In reality, however, I'm just easily distracted and entirely too enamored by the "Play Now" option on the Netflix website (did you know you can watch all seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer instantly?  ALL SEVEN SEASONS!!!).  So for me, box mac n' cheese is the way to go.

Poke me for Pasta!
I used to be a Kraft man, but that was when I hated my body and sought to destroy it.  These days I go with Annie's Homegrown.  It claims to be organic, but I take that claim with a grain of salt.  It's a box of mac n' cheese after all.  How natural can that be?  I'm not sure if Annie's is available everywhere, but it's pretty easy to find in New England.  You'll know it because it's the only brand that features a rabbit's butt on the "push to open" tab.  I'm not entirely sure what kind of statement Annie is trying to make with that, but I'm pretty sure it's inappropriate.

You'll start by boiling some water.  This is going to take some time, so wander off for a while and distract yourself.  I passed the time burninating things.

Once the water is boiling, go ahead and defile the bunny and then pour the macaroni into the pot.  The box says to let the noodles boil for 8-10 minutes, but you've got some wiggle room.  I prefer to to boil until just after Buffy wraps up the big action sequence and comes to a natural pausing point.

Yum! Dehydrated cheese product
Next, drain the noodles in a colander.  While they're sitting there, take the opportunity to prep the sauce.  I've always been fascinated by the chalky orange dust that puts the "cheese" in mac n' cheese.  Is it really cheese?  If so, what unholy process did they put it through to make if come out like this?  Of course, these are questions you should push far out of you mind while preparing this dish.  It's really best not to think about it.  If you do, you may end up so intrigued that you pour all of the powdered cheese into the measuring cup first so you can study it and take a picture.  Only then do you realize that you need that cup to measure out the 1/4 cup of milk you're supposed to add.  So then, really, you have no other recourse than to pour the powdered cheese out of the measuring cup into a dirty coffee mug that just happened to be lying around.  You then measure out the milk as quickly as possible, pour the cheese back in, and look furtively about to make sure no one saw what you just did.

Always think through your plan
ahead of time.
Once you're done mixing the sauce, take the noodles and return them to pot in which you boiled them.  Add the sauce and mix it in thoroughly with a big wooden spoon.  If you're a responsible human being who actually stirred the noodles while they were boiling, you probably already have one out.

At this point, you should have an entirely edible meal in front of you.  However, if you want to kick it up a notch (and who doesn't!), dig around in the fridge and find that bottle of ketchup you've had in there since the Bush administration.  You know the one.  Apply the ketchup liberally to the mac n' cheese and whip it in with the big wooden spoon.  You know you've added enough when the liquidy cheese substance turns a peculiar shade of fuchsia.

I think I might throw in my
Half-Baked VHS.
You're now ready to enjoy your meal.  If you're fancy, you can go ahead and pour the mac n' cheese into a bowl.  I prefer to just eat it out of the pot I made it in with the big wooden spoon I stirred it with.  I mean, why add to the pile of dishes if you don't have to?  The trick here is to put a dish rag underneath the pot so you don't end up singeing the rug.  Also, if you're fully following my example and doing this without pants, you really want to be careful to keep that pot far out in front of you.  It was just on the stove, after all, and you don't have a lot of padding down there.

This meal should serve one shameless human being.  It's a perfect meal for any laid back evening when you're newly divorced, chronically depressed, or just plain lazy.  The Baking Midwife should be back next week with more delicious recipes (God knows I'm counting the days).  Until then, enjoy the mac n' cheese or, better yet, just go out and get something at the pub.

J's No-Pants Mac n' Cheese
Inspired by the recipe on the back of the box and a complete lack of motivation.

Boil Water over high heat.

Discard Pants and dick around for a while.  Suddenly remember you have water boiling and rush back into the kitchen.

Add noodles to water and wander off again.  Briefly enter a fugue state and lose all track of time.  Fret about whether the noodles have been boiling way too long or not long enough.  Remove from heat.

Mix 1/4 cup of milk with the dehydrated cheese product.  Avoid questioning where the substance came from or where it is about to go.  Under no circumstances make comparisons between the dried cheese and the burnt up dreams of your idealistic youth.  Whip until smooth.

Drain noodles and add the cheese sauce.  Stir in with wooden spoon.  Add ketchup to taste.  Do not experiment with mayonnaise.  You still have standards.

Check wooden spoon for splinters.  If none found, dig in.  You can move the pot to the rug in front of the television, or just eat it standing at the stove.  In either case, avoid all reflective surfaces while eating and try not to make direct eye contact with the dog.



Probably shouldn't have left that there that long.