Change. People really have a hard time accepting change. Adjusting to something out of the ordinary seems to throw most people off balance. (I say off balance because it is nicer than calling people crazy.)
The time change this weekend is a big one for a lot of people. There are certain people in my life that I do not talk to for days after the time change. It isn’t that I don’t love them but they start to pull me into their head scratching, time warp metamorphosis.
A typical conversation goes like this:
Me: How are you?
Friend: I hate time changes.
Me: It isn’t so bad.
Friend: I’m all screwed up. My stomach wants to eat lunch at 10 o’clock yesterday’s time and I just finished breakfast at 9 o’clock today’s time.
Me: Oh, you’ll get used to it.
Friend: I need to go for a walk but I like to walk at 7 o’clock but that will be 6 o’clock and I don’t like walking at 6 o’clock. I could pretend I live on the east coast and then it would be 7 o’clock there.
Me: I have to get moving. I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Bye.
Friend: Bye. If this was yesterday and you said tomorrow, today would be tomorrow and we would be having this whole conversation again today.
It isn’t just a time change that makes a person rock in the corner. Try changing a person’s favorite dish. (You were waiting for one of my smooth food transitions, weren’t you?)
One of the worst dishes to change up on someone is macaroni and cheese. Most people of my generation grew up with the blue-boxed stuff. To a lot of us, mac and cheese is only going to be tasty if it is colored like an Oompa Loompa.
But over the years, we were missing a lot. (Now my friend would say that is because we just lost an hour.)
I’ve started making homemade mac and cheese by making kind of a denser/cheesier version of a Mornay sauce. (Okay, technically this isn’t a Mornay but it is a béchamel sauce with cheese that is like a Mornay. Once again, we are learning to adjust to change.)
I added some leeks too because I love their sweet, oniony but not overpowering taste.
This was a great dinner on its own but would be an awesome accompaniment to some grilled sausage. (Or maybe not dinner, maybe it was lunch. I’m not sure, the time change confused me.)
Times a Changin’ Mac and Cheese
(Adapted from a few Internet recipes over the years)
¼ cup butter
3 cups finely chopped leeks (white and pale green parts)
¼ cup flour
3 cups milk
16 ounces freshly grated cheese at room temp. (White cheddar, Gouda, Monterey Jack)
1 Tbsp Stone ground mustard
2 eggs, beaten in a heat proof glass bowl.
1 pound of your favorite “tubey” pasta (You want a tube so it holds the sauce so a penne is a great option)
3 pieces of bacon, finely chopped
¼ cup panko
Preheat oven to 400.
In a large heavy saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.
Add leeks and coat with the butter. Cover pan and cook until leeks are tender. (It takes about 15 minutes. You don’t want them caramelized. You want them tender. Check on them and stir occasionally.)
Add flour and cook about 2-3 minutes. You want to cook off the raw flour taste.
Slowly add the milk. It is going to seem like a lumpy mess and won’t completely smooth out because of the leeks. It is okay. Just make sure you are breaking up any large flour clumps.
Add the mustard.
Start your pasta cooking in a separate large pot of salted water. Don’t overcook it because it will be going in the oven and to cook some more. It should be firm, not mushy.
Bring mixture to a simmer (small bubbles) stirring often so the bottom doesn’t burn.
Temper the eggs with some of the warm milk. (Temper meaning slowly add some of the milk to the eggs until they reach an equal temperature. Stir and add more until it well incorporated. You don’t want the eggs to curdle.)
Add egg mixture to larger pot of milk and stir.
Slowly sprinkle in the grated cheese.
Hopefully your pasta is done, drained and back in its pot.
Slowly add the cheese sauce and stir to coat.
In a large 13 x 9 buttered casserole, add the pasta mixture.
Bake for about 20 minutes (cheese should be bubbly)
In a separate small bowl, mix the remaining cheese, panko and bacon and sprinkle on top of the pasta.
Bake another 5-10 minutes.
Remove from oven and let sit for at least 10 minutes. (It will be hard to let it sit but trust me, it will be worth it.)
The first time I made this, I didn’t do the bacon crumbly on top. But I like how the saltiness pairs with the sweetness of the leeks.
Change is hard but a necessary part of life. It opens us up for new opportunities and makes us mix things up a bit. Now I need to go eat breakfast or is it lunchtime. I’m really confused.