Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Taste of Domesticity

Someone please tell me why, once it gets here, the holiday season has to move so quickly! How on earth can it be Thanksgiving already THIS week? And I certainly don't have enough paychecks left between now and Christmas. It would be great if I could spend a whole check on Christmas. Hmmm.

Don't get me wrong. I look forward to the break. I look forward to not driving in traffic for two days. I look forward to three "Friday nights" in a row. What's a "Friday night" you ask? A Friday night is when I don't have to do a darn thing the next day and I can go to bed as late as I please because I won't be hopping up the next day. Fridays are usually the only time I get a night like that.

Some Friday nights I know I have to get up early the next day for a hair appointment. Good to get my hair done. Not good to have to do something every single day. Saturday nights usually mean church the next day or, now, Son's cub scout pack may have a trip planned. Saturday nights just aren't really that relaxing these days. Sunday afternoons are good if I don't have to do anything. Like right now. I've got a moment so I tried to call a friend who had her first child back in June. She and her husband are living with her aunt right now. Boy do I know what's that like. But she's not home. So I should be trying one of three other long distance friends but first I thought I'd catch you guys up and then - write. Because that's what November has been the past two years. A time of non-stop writing. The closer we get to the end of the month, the more I should have written, but nope! Been busy. Doing what? Well, take a look at this:

Know what that is? That, my friends, is the very first time I ever made macaroni and cheese from scratch. After nearly 37 years of living, it is only now that I felt compelled to do it. I can't tell you why. I hate to cook, for the most part, but I do get these itches and twitches every now and again. Something domestic possesses me from time to time. So I've been cooking for over a week now for the heck of it. It's a long time. Trust me.

Daughter and I went to the hairdresser on Saturday. They were having a Thanksgiving dinner that day so my hairdresser, who is also my friend, tells me, "You'd better go get something to eat! Eat, girl, eat! That's less you'll have to buy later!" After a good four hours in there and after sending Daughter home two hours prior because she was done and I was barely started, I said, why not. And what was there? Mac and cheese, of course! A co-worker recently helped me figure out a poll to put on our job website. It was about the tempting foods of Thanksgiving. I told her I figured the list could go on and on. She sent me back some of the more tempting carbs and I replied that macaroni and cheese is as tempting as they come.

"That's NOT a traditional Thanksgiving food!" she IM'd me.

"It is if you're black!" I IM'd her back. She's not. So she laughed. She had mentioned something about pilgrims to which I responded increduosly, "You are talking to the BLACK girl about pilgrims?!" Don't think the incongruity of the two had crossed her mind before then.

Yep, most black folk (and Southerners of all races) have this filling favorite on most of their holiday tables. So maybe there was just something about this time of the year that made me feel like making it. After all, I don't want to have to wait for a special ocassion to go to someone else's home to have something I love so much.

Time to make it for myself. So I wracked my brain trying to recall what I saw over the years as various family members made it. You would think I would have asked the older women where I get my hair done how they make it because I was guaranteed to get a ton of answers. But I didn't feel like listening to the shock and dismay.
"You've NEVER made it from scratch?!"
"How did THAT happen?!"
"Your mama or grandmama didn't teach you?" (For the record, my mother offered when I was a kid back in Philly but I wasn't interested then either.)
"Why, in my day..." I think you can finish that one for yourselves.
Many women of all ages are still surprised that others of us ain't into the kitchen scene. I'm not the career-type, necessarily, thinking cooking is for SAHMs. It's just not me. Unless I'm in the mood.

So I keep thinking about what makes sense and I even checked out the back of the macaroni boxes to see if they had a recipe - of course they did - and to see if it rang any bells. Checking out 3 different brands yielded me pretty much the same recipe with dry mustard and flour as two of the ingredients. But that felt wrong. So I called my mother who said exactly what I was expecting to hear - milk and an egg, among the usual macaroni and various cheeses.

I get what I need and I go home to see what happens. An hour after I put it into the oven, that dish came out smelling up the house and even though I didn't tell anyone I was making it, they came asking because it's one of those unmistakeable odors. Kind of like Doritos, you know it when you smell it.

It was OK. It smelled fantastic, that's for certain. It LOOKED perfect. But it was a little bland for my taste so I'll figure out what's missing - it may be as simple as not enough salt since it tasted more flavorful after I added salt - and I'll try it again eventually.

My need to heat things up in the kitchen hasn't quite dissipated yet. Maybe I'll venture next into forbidden territory - German Chocolate Cake!

But first, I have to write. I'm still woefully behind and there are people who actually think I'll make the 50,000 words anyway! Oh the pressure! That's a good thing, K8. ;-)

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