Friday, February 22, 2008

I don't get it


I do not get this product.

Then what is it doing in my house? I invited it, and it came over to visit. Well, sort of. Sophie is home with what seems like a minor version of the flu. She came home from school with a fever, but the fever broke last night, and now she's just feels not too well. One of our carpool kids came home with the same thing, and he's over at our house so his mom can go to a work lunch. I figure if you've got one sick kid, you might as well have two. They played a couple rounds of dinosaur concentration and are now cuddled up on the coach like two puppies watching a movie about Santa Claus. I love Little Carpool Friend and his family and was happy to help out. But as soon as I made the offer, I panicked. What was I going to feed this kid? He eats like five or six things (broccoli is one of them, thank goodness), and I wasn't sure I had any of those things. No problem, said his mom. She would send food with him. Which is why that box is here.

I remember liking Kraft Mac & Cheese when I was little. It was a special treat we had when the babysitter came. And I ate my fair share of it in the dorm in college. This is organic (good), so wouldn't you think it would be better?? Well, let's see.

I read and followed the directions very carefully. While the pasta is cooking, you mix powder from this little packet with milk.

And then stir it up. Does this look like cheese? I'm asking because this is the cheese part.

You then drain the noodles and stir in this stuff.

WTF. Does that look like something you'd like to eat? I tried to rescue it by offering to stir in some real cheese, but Little Carpool Friend wasn't having it. He said it would be fine if I added it. But when I asked if he would eat it then, he said no. He's such a polite little guy. The kids, of course, loved it just as it was. Sophie said I really should be open to trying new things, just like I tell her to do. So I had a bite. Eeeeuw. Really bad.

But here's the thing that baffles me. Macaroni and cheese is really easy and pretty quick to make. Kind of like pudding. I don't get why people use mixes for that either. And homemade macaroni and cheese tastes like cheese— any cheese you want, because it works with almost any cheese in any combination.

I made some the other night using the recipe from Cook's Illustrated. They won't let me link to it (I'd have to give everyone my password, which would probably piss them off), so I'll give an adaptation of it here (I half it, decrease some of the butter, and skip the buttered bread crumbs on top—enough fat and carbs already, you know?).


1/2 lb. elbow macaroni
1/2 Tbl. salt
2 Tbl. unsalted butter
3 Tbl. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. powdered mustard
2 1/2 cups milk (any kind)
8 oz. shredded cheese (about 2 cups; I've used cheddar, mozzarella, provolone, paremesan, gruyere, and chevre, although not all at the same time)


Cook the pasta in salted water and drain.

Heat butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Add flour and mustard and whisk well to combine. Continue whisking until mixture becomes fragrant and deepens in color, about 1 minute.

Gradually whisk in milk; bring mixture to boil, whisking constantly (mixture must reach full boil to fully thicken). Reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened to consistency of heavy cream, about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat, whisk in cheeses and salt until cheeses are fully melted. Add pasta and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is steaming and heated through, about 6 minutes.

Transfer mixture to an oven-proof baking dish and broil until top is golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes, rotating pan if necessary for even browning. Cool about 5 minutes, then serve.
We can make pudding another time.


Tres Poshe Preppy said...

I'm all about the Mac & Cheese. And, I'm an equal opportunity taster, no snob here. I like the regular Annie's but have never tried that version, perhaps I won't now. I agree, nothing like homemade. YUM! Thanks for posting.

KatieGirlBlue said...

OH! It's a roux! Not to be confused with a ruse, although it's a ruse that the powdered cheese stuff is a roux.

Thank you for tagging me! I'm so excited. I feel very special and am going home tonight with a bottle of Grey Goose to celebrate.

Have fun in Kirkwood this weekend! Ski hard! We're going to avoid the rain and spend most of the weekend at the climbing gym. After a week in warm weather, I'm ready for Spring.

Trish said...

I'm totally with you! I can't stand the boxed stuff - any brand - and my kids happily gobble up the homemade no matter what kind of cheese I stick in it. We've also banned boxed puddings and baking mixes. Once you've had a homemade brownie or cup of butterscotch pudding, you'll never go back to a mix.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so I don't get you. You profess to hate Costco because of it's pre-packaged produce and individually wrapped giant toilet rolls but yet you turn around and by an outfit for your tom-tom? How much packaging surrounded this outfit? Will you then buy a container for the outfit for the Tom-tom? Where does this stop? And how about using a map?? Unless all products become bio-degradable you are no better than someone who shops at Costco. While I can understand that you prefer to get your lettuce at a veggie stand (as do I) you're no better than the rest of us.

Cindy said...

Anonymous: Did I claim to be better than anyone else? Hmm. Don't think so. I'm just writing about what I like and what I don't. And what I'm really not liking right now is you. Would you please go lurk someone else's blog? Thanks.

Katie: Still have that Grey Goose? I'm coming over.

Sweet Pea Chef said...

Here, here! Not only do homemade things taste a million times better, but you don't get the weird additives that are in the non-organic mixes. I would love your homemade pudding recipe. Have yet to try one of those...

Chantico said...

I made the Cook's illustrated version last week, and I entirely agree-WHY would you ever use a boxed mix? Don't you just LOVE the CI website? I go to it for everything new I want to try...

You're such a good mommy and friend, to take on another sick kiddo. Huzza for you!


Angelina said...

That's funny because I loved boxed macaroni and cheese when I was a kid because we had a 100% wholegrain non-boxed food household and we only got the crappy food when baby sitters came over too and it was always like having a weird-ass neon orange treat. I have learned to make it from scratch and you're so right-it's so easy and tastes 500 times better than any boxed kind.

Eva said...

Hey Cindy,

I just found your blog, but I could not resist commenting because...

I adore boxed mac-n-cheese.

This perplexes my friends, as I rail against boxed meals or frozen-just-microwave anything, and I enjoy cooking. And I can make a bechamel just fine.

But I adore that boxed mac-n-cheese. Want to know why? It's the "cheese sauce". I know, I know, I might as well make a bechamel and I'd get the same consistency, but... there's something about it.

I'm sorry, foodie world. But I love it.