Sooo, how's everyone doing today? Happy Caturday, y'all. Here's the pic I just shared to Google+ to celebrate this once-a-week occasion:
That's BooBoo and Yogi, my parents' little nuggets (and my precious Dibbs' current roommates), when they were little bambinos.
Yogi is humongous now (very long and heavy; he's kind of like a miniature jungle cat, really), Boo still petite but a little chunkier around the middle.
I also just discovered the following gem while checking the weather on weather.com. It's a collection of pictures of an abandoned amusement park in Germany. This location might legitimately be added to my bucket list, because it would be fantastic to see this in person. Though the photographer, Athanasios Gioumpasis, did a wonderful job capturing the place and, I assume, its essence. So you enjoy that and then come on back here to do a little more reading:
OK, so thank you for coming back. I still haven't decided what I'm going to write about today.
OK, fine, let's talk about mac & cheese.
Kraft, of course.
If I had to predict, I would say I've consumed...a lot of boxes in my lifetime. I want to say upwards of 300, but then that sounds too big a number yet at the very same time too small a number. This is tough. It's a good thing I'm not paid to make predictions for a living.
Oh wow, I just had a flash where I imagined myself as an insurance underwriter -- I would be terrible at that job! When people ask me that age old question of, "What's the worst thing that could happen?" I don't give them an honest answer, because my mind will go there to the worst scenario, and I'm not sure whoever is asking me the question can handle it, nor is it helpful to his or her question-asking exercise or providing him or her with his or her desired response, which is something far less dramatic and doom-filled.
Anyway. Predicting: not my forte. When asked to do so, I either think of really horrible situations or agonize over just how many boxes of Kraft macaroni and cheese I've consumed in my lifetime.
My most recent box was Sunday. I cried while I ate it, making it difficult to swallow. I was so overwhelmed with being chronically tired that I felt to some degree like the world was ending. I was having trouble seeing hope and a future for myself. I then crawled in bed and (I think) took something of a nap (I rarely nap, but enough time passed while I was lying down that I think I must have been unconscious for some of that time). I woke up feeling better, less helpless and hopeless.
Sunday's box was of the spiral noodle variety. I like the extra texture.
My journey with mac & cheese of course began as a child, when my parents made it for us, usually as a side dish to other things. Sometimes they added "little smokies," which me and the brothers enjoyed immensely.
I recall going to a friend's home in my youth and being served what I felt (and still feel) was the lesser version of this dish and that is macaroni and cheese with hot dogs in it.
More than likely I was still uber pleased at the fact that macaroni and cheese was before me.
I sometimes think of my adolescent years -- from approximately fourth grade, when I was first allowed to steer the stove, through about, well, today -- as having a box of mac & cheese present once a week. (Here in 2014 I'd say I average about one box every two or three months, but through middle school and much of high school I fairly routinely had mac & cheese each week). Almost always on Saturday, the one day a week when the Brewer children were not necessarily on our own for lunch, because our parents would have fed us if we asked, I'm sure, but perhaps allowed to be on our own for lunch.
I don't remember what the brothers ate, honestly. Unless I was babysitting Riley, in which case he was eating the same thing I was eating.
And you can guess what Bailey Kathleen made every Saturday. Mac & cheese.
Until sometime around college, I still measured the milk and butter according to box instructions. At the time, it was a quarter cup of milk and a quarter cup of butter (half of a standard stick), if I recall. Now the Healthy Police have gotten a hold of us and altered the recipe.
I used to cut off half a stick of butter and drop it in the pot, and stir it around as it melted. It always looked like a bar of soap to me, dwindling down as it would in a shower but at a much faster rate.
I see my friend Corie and her husband Cyle only seldom these days, but about half the time I show up at their house, we have mac & cheese. It has been one of the many bonding points between me and Cyle, as in his few years my senior he too has not abandoned his affinity for the salty, fake-cheesy treat.
Even if not on their meal radar, I can easily influence a previously planned menu at their home, by requesting a box of Kraft and then being granted my wish.
It helps that adult Cyle makes childlike smacking sounds in echo to my plea.
It also helps that Corie likes to eat it, too.
It also helps that they tend to have a stockpile of the stuff in their pantry (because they're grown-up married people who have a Costco membership or something. Me, I wait until Mom sends me a care package and then think, "Eureka! I don't have to go to the store, because dinner has come to me from 1,600 miles away!").
As an adult I have discovered that cooking actual, non-box foods can be rewarding and enjoyable, but for many years my kitchen abilities included dish washing, making scrambled eggs, egg sandwiches (scrambled eggs tucked into folds of toast), and mac & cheese.
Imagine my swell of pride, then, when my own mother, who can make all kinds of things with ease -- it is in fact a little jarring to catch her consulting a cookbook -- began to request that I make her Kraft mac & cheese for her.
"You just make it so creamy," she said on that pivotal day of my life.
Added to my ego at this moment, and feeling that I must really know my way around a saucepan, was the fact that at this point I had begun eyeballing the amount of butter and milk I added to each set of boiled noodles.
So, clearly, I have no shame in supporting this multi-billion dollar brand.
While reading one of my all-time favorite books, Me, Myself, and Bob by Phil Vischer, creator of VeggieTales, I came across a point in his story where he was invited to an event where some Kraft family or business members were in attendance. Vischer wrote that he thanked them for all the mac & cheese.
I believe I wrote in the margin that I would have done the same.
So consider this your love letter, Kraft mac & cheese. I don't have a box on hand just now, but it's only a matter of time before I'll purchase another. Maybe swirl in some tuna, some peas. Maybe get the SpongeBob SquarePants-shaped noodles for a little whimsical texture.
We'll just have to wait and see.