Friday, December 06, 2013

December Daily #6 ~ Unusual Traditions, Part 2 + a Mac and Cheese Recipe

My birthday is on New Years Eve, which means that my birthday and Christmas have always been pretty tied together. For many years I had a sleep over to celebrate my birthday. It was a wonderful thing. We had the entire family room in the basement to ourselves. I thought we were so cool. I had an 4' aluminum Christmas tree, complete with a rotating color wheel, that was set up in the corner. I loved that silly thing and took great pride in setting up all by myself each year. I don't recall whether I had any ornaments to go on it or not. Somewhere along the line I think it became too ratty to keep. It was a lot like the tree in the photo above.

I'd pick a dinner that I liked that year and we would have that. We would also watch "The Trouble with Angles" with Hayley Mills, eat our dinner and talk the entire time. We would stay up too late, talk too loud and laugh even louder.

I had not thought about any of that for a long time, but I saw an aluminum Christmas tree in the window of a local thrift store about two years ago. It tugged at my nostalgic heart and I had intended to go back and buy it. However, by the time I returned for it, it was gone. My mom has a magical gift for finding amazing deals and stuff at the thrift store so I have put her on the case. It will likely take a few years, but I imagine that one of us will find one some time in the next few years.

It makes me wonder what silly things will become nostalgic for my own children.

Wisconsin Mac and Cheese

1/2 lb macaroni
2 tbs butter
2 tbs flour
2 cup whole milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp pepper
2 cups Monterey jack cheese, shredded
1 cup shredded Cheddar/jack or Colby/jack cheese
Boil the Noodles

Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the macaroni according to the directions on the box. Make sure to cook it to al dente.

The Cheese Sauce

Heat a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the butter to the pan and melt. Then add the flour. Start to whisk to make a roux.
Whisk until the butter mixture starts to boil and foam. Then cook for another minute until it starts to lightly turn brown.
Slowly mix in the whole milk. Continue to whisk and cook until it starts to thicken.
Then add the salt, pepper, paprika and Monterey Jack cheese. Whisk until the cheese is fully melted.
The sauce will not be too thick. This is perfect.

To Serve

Pour 1/2 cup of the cheese sauce into the bottom of a bowl. Then add 1 – 1 1/2 cups of cooked noodles to the bowl.
Then top with 1/2 cup of shredded Cheddar/jack or Colby/jack cheese and serve.

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