Today I’d like to talk about macaroni and cheese. I like macaroni and cheese. Always have. I’m 41 years old and I can still taste the very distinctive way my babysitter would make it. I couldn’t begin to describe it, and I have only recently begun to figure out how she did it. And that was by accident and I’ll never tell.
If I’d figured it out in college when I ate macaroni and cheese quite often, I may have been making it that way all these years just for pure nostalgia’s sake. But I do like variety. When it comes to my macaroni and cheese, though I like the tried and true, I have been surprisingly experimental over the years.
My personal favorites?
Curry Mac – I went through a stage in which I was all about the Indian food and always wanted to put a little bit of that flavor into anything I cooked. It didn’t always work but the first time I made curry mac I remember declaring to my wife that I’d never make it without curry again. That didn’t last. It was good though.
Macaroni and Sunflower Seeds – Yeah I don’t know what I was doing here. Again it was a period where a certain food item, this time sunflower seeds (out of the shell) kind of began to dominate my culinary persona. I would put them in everything. I liked to roast them a bit then chuck them in my macaroni and cheese. For texture and for protein because I was a vegetarian at the time.
Macaroni and Peas – This has been the most enduring version in my household. Whenever I tell my wife I am going to make macaroni and cheese she asks if we have any peas. I usually make peas on the side just to appease her (see what I did there?) even if I myself feel like having the original version.
Macaroni and Chick’n and California Blend Vegetables – I spelled it “chick’n” because that is generally how the vegetarian excuse for chicken is referred to. I honestly don’t remember if I ever made macaroni and cheese with real chicken strips before I went veg, and I haven’t since rejoining the omnivorous life. If you don’t know, “California Blend” is broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. This is one that I have not had in a very long time, but just writing about it, right now I kind of miss it. On a side note, I’ve been known to have this one either without the vegetables or without the “chick’n” in a pinch.
Tofu Chili Mac – This is an old classic with a twist. I don’t know if I ever had it with ground beef based chili before I went veg, but I would often make a chili with a dense tofu crumble in place of the beef, and for some reason at some point I started making home made elbow macaroni and Velveeta cheese whenever I made the chili. Inevitably they ended up in one dish when I was throwing together a lunch for work one day. It was kind of a revelation. Sincerely.
Macaroni and Cheese and Tomato Soup – Along the same lines but a little lazier, I used to make that same home made macaroni and cheese with Velveeta, and on top of that I’d pour on some tomato soup. I don’t know why. I think it is because when I was a kid we’d always have ring bologna with either macaroni and cheese or tomato macaroni on the side. I bet I didn’t have the bologna but for some reason I got the notion that I had to have both.
So you can see that when it comes to food, nothing inspires me to tinker more than macaroni and cheese. I hope you see at least one variety that you’ll have a go at yourself. Hope you like it.