My Coworker Asked Me For a Recipe

That poor sweet person.

Today we had our Halloween potluck, and I made macaroni and cheese. People really liked it.

One of my coworkers, a lovely person from HR, liked it enough that she asked for the recipe. So I gave it to her.

That poor girl.

I hope, for her sake, that she is already an avid cook. I am the cook who adds “some” of one thing or “a dash” of another. I don’t usually work from books, and even when I do I change it up.

I made this up from scratch this morning, and I had to mentally recreate it to write it down.

I probably left in too much of the color, but I omitted the insights of 5 in the morning, like the absolute beauty of the way a roux bubbles and expands in a hot pan when you are the only one awake and the way your dog looks at you like you’re the cheese god while you’re cooking.

I definitely didn’t tell her how adding garlic ginger oil to melted butter made me think about how winter was coming, so quickly, and about how all throughout human history food and especially fat has been love, the thing we can give to our families to fill them and warm them and carry them through the winter.

There’s a reason all the fall holidays are eating holidays.

I left out as much of that maudlin garbage as I could, and gave her the recipe. You can try it too, if you think you’re cook enough.

So here it is, Halloween Mac and Cheese:

1 box/1 lb cavatappi, cooked al dente

1 stick of butter

A tablespoon of ginger-garlic oil

About a half cup of flour (to make a roux, but I had the whole bag there)

1 onion diced

2-3 tablespoons minced garlic

3-4 little sweet peppers diced

About 2 cups of grated cheese, I used cheddar.

Probably 2 cups milk (to make the roux into a sauce, but again I had the whole thing)

2 tablespoons of sour cream

1-2 eggs, beaten

Salt, pepper, spices to taste. Paprika is good, and oregano.

Melt half the stick of butter in a large saucepan. Add ginger-garlic oil. Sautee the onion, pepper, and after the onion clarifies add minced garlic and the remaining butter. Sautee until garlic starts to look burnt and the whole mess smells really, really good, then start adding flour a little at a time, stirring constantly, until all butter is absorbed. Continue to sautee, stirring constantly, for a minute or two. Add pepper and spices to taste. Do not salt yet.

Add about ½ cheese, again a little at a time, to the roux. This will bubble and get really weird and you will think you are doing it wrong. Keep stirring. Stir constantly. Really just keep stirring.

When you are afraid it will burn, start adding milk, a little at a time. Stir constantly. Add milk a tablespoonful or two at first and pause, then more at once as it cools down. You should get a relatively even-textured milky sauce the color of whatever cheeses you added, plus lumps for the veggies. Keep this close to but not actually boiling while you stir for a minute or two or until it starts to thicken. Add sour cream when you give up on it ever thickening, remove from heat.

Mix pasta, most of remaining cheese, and beaten egg in greased crock pot or baking dish. Pour sauce over, stir thoroughly. Sprinkle with tiny bit of cheese you saved for sprinkling, or if you forgot grate a little more on the top. Crockpot on high for 2.5 hours or oven (cover with foil) at 350 for about 40 minutes, although I’ve never made this in an oven.

Let me know if you try it, and good luck!

I still write sometimes, and I have a buttload of already-written stuff. So there you go.

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