What I Eat On Dates

So, since I last wrote I've been working very hard to find someone to kiss on New Year's Eve. And I'm happy to report that I might. actually. have. done. it. (!) But, since NYE is 10 months away, I don't want to jinx it. Anything can happen, I guess, and I don't find myself in this position that often. We'll see. 

In the meantime it's a struggle to fit it all in falling in love (with someone who lives kinda far away); helicopter parenting; doing my job; trying to write, etc....  And, of course, I'm riddled with guilt is it okay to run down to New York for a weekend for theater and oysters and sex? Or should I stay at home with my kid fulfilling her every need until she's off on her own, which is at least two years away? Are you ever done being a mother... or, if not "done," can the balance ever be tipped in the other direction... even just a little? Is it okay to have it be my turn?

What I Make At Home

Luckily, when life seems too complicated, food is a way to take care of us both, and one thing that S and I both agree on is that Martha Stewart's Macaroni and Cheese 101 is a perfect comfort meal on a late winter Sunday night. 

Of course it's delicious on it's own, but I like to add a bunch of stuff like chorizo, tomatoes, and lacinato (Tuscan) kale with lots of dried chile de árbol. But I'm on a mission not to be controlling, so I'll let you decide for yourselves. Martha's original recipe serves 12; I've halved it here for a cozy, easy, non-entertaining size. If you're trying to find someone to kiss on New Year's Eve, you might want to have a salad instead, but I suggest just letting it go ignore the millions of calories and enjoy. There will be even more for you to kiss.

Macaroni and Cheese 101
Adapted from the Martha Stewart Living Cookbook

Serves 6
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for casserole
3 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to l/2-inch pieces
2 1/4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more for water
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 1/4 cups (about 9 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar cheese
1 cup  (about 4 ounces) grated Gruyère or 3/4 cupc (about 4 ounces) grated Pecorino Romano cheese (I usually use a combination
 1/2 pound elbow macaroni

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place the bread in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour the melted butter into the bowl with the bread, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside.
2. Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When the butter bubbles, add the flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.
3. While whisking, slowly pour in the hot milk a little at a time to keep mixture smooth. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick, 8 to 12 minutes.
4. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, and 3/4 cups Gruyère (or 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano); set the cheese sauce aside.
5. Cover a large pot of salted water, and bring to a boil. Cook the macaroni until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir the macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.
6. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheeses, and the breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes (though I needed a bit more time to get it brown, but your oven may vary). Transfer the dish to a wire rack for 5 minutes; serve plain or with whatever accompaniments you like.