Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Who ate the last hot dog?, and where is the ketchup?

     This time of year, I run into people that I haven't seen in a long time. Usually in the frozen food section of the local supermarket, I do a lot of my catching up this way. When you live in a small town, you are bound to run into someone you know. A trip that was supposed to be 20 minutes turns into two hours, the perfect environment for socializing. Supermarkets are excellent places to share dinner ideas. I am always in search of great recipes. The quicker the better, I say. Working full time and taking care of a family, makes it a bit challenging to be a Julia Child in the kitchen. My boys require 3 components to their food. 1. kid-friendly, 2. tastes good, 3. recognizable. No fancy food, no frills and certainly no foreign words. So you can see my dilemma, when organizing dinner.
     What follows is my version of the Mother's Survival Guide to feeding Boys. First and foremost, be sure to have ketchup on hand at all times. Ketchup is the favored condiment of men. It goes with almost everything and you can never purchase too much ketchup. If you by a freak of nature run out of ketchup replace with the following ranch dressing, mayonnaise or barbecue sauce.
     There comes a time when your husband might bring home a Ziploc bag, with an unidentified white paper wrapped brick inside. Don't panic, it is only some animal that one of his buddies successfully caught. Living in the country, I have seen those Ziploc bags more than once. Myself, I would rather eat USDA approved meat, but that is just me. Thankfully,  my husband and sons reserve venison steak breakfasts for when I am at work.
     Every man's kitchen should have emergency items that can be put into use, when Mom tries to serve girly food like tea sandwiches and wraps. Make sure you have white bread, not any of those birdseed types, just good old white bread. With that white bread, you should have a variety of items. Hot Dogs and or Bologna is the epitome of sandwich meat, the recipe should not be messed with. Plenty of tuna when the bologna runs out. American cheese, not Havarti, not Pepper Jack, just American.  Have on hand plenty of eggs, you never know when they will get in the deviling mood.
     All cupboards should include lots of macaroni and cheese, not the fancy kind, just Kraft, and plenty of it, because that is just a snack. Cans of Chef Boyardee, cans of baked beans, smoked oysters, pickled herring and any other canned meat that Mom hates.
     Make sure that during dinner, that you have game scores available on a moments notice. If you have small kitchen like me, it would be wise to stand off to the side, if the opposing team scores. In fact in a perfect world, there would be a TV in the kitchen, and a hamper. One stop shopping, makes life less complicated. The recipe that follows is my Macaroni and Cheese, but it is important to use Wisconsin style cheddar, or rather yellow cheddar. For some reason kids have this idea, that all macaroni and cheese that is white, in fact, is really not mac and cheese! Stick with yellow cheddar, yer all set.

Kid friendly, Kid tested, Kid approved Macaroni and Cheese

1 pound box elbow macaroni(stay away from the trendy wheat and multi grain, they know!!)
1 cup chicken stock
3 cups milk
3 ozs butter
3 ozs flour
2 tsps mustard
2 healthy dashs of hot sauce
4 cups of sharp cheddar cheese
1 small onion diced fine
salt and pepper to taste
10 saltines crushed finely
2 ozs melted butter

In a pot bring 4 quarts of lightly salted water to a boil, and boil the macaroni for about 10 minutes, or until tender. When done, drain and set aside. In a sauce pan melt the butter and add the onion and saute(onion has to be small, so kids radar can not detect) cook until the onion is translucent. Add the flour and turn the heat down, so flour does not burn. Cook for 2 minutes, this is done to remove the flour taste. Add the stock and milk and whisk on medium low heat, more on the low side(so you have more control), until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and season with mustard, hot sauce and salt and pepper.  Add 3 cups of the cheddar to the hot sauce and whisk until smooth. In a large bowl add the cooked macaroni, season again with salt and pepper, add the last remaining cup of cheddar, mix well. Add the sauce and mix until well incorporated. Place in a well greased oven prove dish, and top with the crushed saltines mixed with melted butter. In a 350F oven cook until crumbs are browned.

Probably nothing in the world arouses more false hopes than the first four hours of a diet.~Dan Bennett


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