So crazy-busy, these last weeks of the year. I am still trying to figure out how to squeeze enough hours of the day to do all I want to do in them. But one thing that has surprised and thrilled me: I really feel like a better mother since I went back to work. Not those times when I have to put the tv on or chase the kids to the neighbors' to finish a project, but the rest of the time--it's amazing. Having a job quiets the restless part of my brain so when I'm with my kids--I'm with them. And that hamster wheel in my head stops spinning and I can actually remember to calm down and focus on them and just be. And for that I am most thankful. I am grateful to Katie Granju, who wrote that part of being a good mother can be providing for the family. I'm grateful to 4everMom for showing me a way to think outside the box about combining working and mothering. I'm grateful to Anjali, for always reminding me that she knew, she saw, that spark in me that said, I need a professional life too. I have many other mentors on blogs and in real life, but it's a good season to get the long list started.
This week: with the exception of Monday, lots of eating down the fridge. I was kicking myself last week after running around to multiple markets, looking for creamed onions for my father-in-law, only to find they were in my freezer all along. That's a sign: too full.
Monday: Autumn Pork Roast (since I am still working down butternut squash from the CSA. This time, however, I am browning in the toaster oven so I don't burn my arm again)
Tuesday: Taco Tuesday!
Wednesday: my son's first reconciliation so something fast. Probably the Catered By Trader Joe's route: mushroom truffle flatbread for the boys, mac and cheese for my husband and the boy who eats mac & cheese, and something Indian for me (see below).
Thursday: Leftovers, or more freezer stuff.
Friday: out for my birthday. I will not cook. Thanks to a surprise bill, that's about all we'll be doing, but that's ok. I am trying to purge stuff, not collect more.
One thing I forgot to mention last week: I had grand plans for making chicken curry, and all kinds of other yummies for Interpreter of Maladies night. Then I started running out of time and panicked and bought Trader Joe's Indian. Then I realized that several people there were friend who've never had Indian and I didn't want them to think they didn't like it because they had a lame version of it. So I caved and got takeout. But I'm not sorry.
Thanksgiving was lovely; I did the usual turkey-leg and Stuffing-Like-My-Mother's (nothing secret, just the blue bag of Pepperidge Farms Stuffing mix with the sauteed celery and onions mixed in; my in-laws' recipes are good, but hey, we all want our own memories served on Turkey Day) in the morning, getting the house smelling like the day. Then I went on to the carrot mousse and creamed onions, and when those were done by noon, I kept going and made mac & cheese for the home-from-college nephew, and cranberry blondie bars, because hey, I had the cranberries. And one miso sweet potato later, we were all set. It was great.
But that did remind me of another thing: I keep searching my own blog for my macaroni and cheese recipe. But it's not here, mostly out of fear of lawsuits by irate cardiologists. The ur-recipe is this one, for Patti LaBelle's Over the Rainbow Macaroni and Cheese. It's amazing, but I am too lazy to even find that many bags of shredded cheese. So (deep breath, admitting this in public) here's how I do it.
My Favorite Aunt's Mac & Cheese
Preheat the oven to 350. Make one box of Creamettes, preferably just a little bit undercooked. While they are cooking, unwrap a stick of butter and use the wrapper to grease the inside of one large and one small Corningware dish. While the noodles drain, toss the stick of butter in the still-hot pot you boiled the noodles in. Put it back on the (now-off) burner to melt the butter. Pour the noodles back in. Stir; add seasoned salt (note: this is the only reason I even have seasoned salt) and pepper; stir to coat noodles and melt butter. Open three bags of shredded white sharp (preferably extra sharp) cheddar cheese; pour two in to buttered noodles one at a time, stirring after each. Add some of the third bag; I usually put in about a quarter. Now (gulp) add as much half-and-half as you dare, up to two cups. Currently I skip the eggs due to allergies in the family but if you want a more "together" texture, almost quichey/casseroley, it's also good. Stir well (you will be amazed at how much cream the noodles can absorb); pour in to prepared dishes. Sprinkle the tops with as much of the rest of the cheese as you like. Bake at 350 until bubbly. And go on a cleanse for the next several days and beg your arteries for forgiveness.
On that note, I hang my head in shame and urge you to look for healthier recipes on I'm an Organizing Junkie's blog. She has many great things there. On to December!