Saturday, March 21, 2009

Descent into barbarism watch: Day 2

In which I chronicle the day-to-day tribulations of living with two (more-or-less) adult boys as my wife trots around Europe for two weeks.

Grilling I can do. But actual cooking? Not so much. Sure, I can fry bacon and eggs, but beyond that my cooking skills are pretty limited. All that measuring and combining ingredients just kind of baffles me. But last night I thought I'd take on the challenge and make a side dish to go with the meat and settled on macaroni and cheese. What American male doesn't like macaroni and cheese?

I wasn't exactly sure what macaroni and cheese in its raw, uncooked state looks like so I went rummaging through cabinets and the pantry closet looking for some with no luck, then it occurred to me that maybe it has to be kept cold or maybe frozen. So I pawed around in the fridge and the freezer (hey, I'm not a total novice in the ways of the kitchen!), but again came up empty.

There was a bag of something called "Penne" in the pantry, which kinda-sorta looked like macaroni and cheese (without the cheese), but instead of being curved like a capital "C", it was straight, like a sans-serif capital "I". And those weird beveled ends...hmmm. Time to improvise!

I took a few of the penne things out of the bag and when I tried to bend them into a "C" shape, they just broke. I decided I could live with "I"-shaped macaroni, but those beveled ends would never do. Cutting off the beveled ends with a knife ended in the same result as trying to bend them, then it occurred to me that I could just file them flat! I know...I'm a genius.

Armed now with a metal file from the garage, I started filing off the ends and saw that this would take way too long when I remembered the bench grinder in the garage. So I grabbed the whole bag of penne and the bowl of filed-down penne things and returned to the garage. In less than 90 minutes, I had the whole bag of pennes ground down to flat-ended, "I"-shaped macaroni! As macaroni goes, mine were kind of large, but bigger is better, right?

I was sure the rest of it would be a breeze. All I had to do, according to the bag, was boil my penne/macaroni "until tender". So while the stuff was boiling, I went in search of cheese. What's macaroni and cheese without cheese, right?

I was pretty sure cheese has to be kept cold so back to the fridge I went. There was a package of sliced American cheese, but I knew that wasn't the right kind. The cheese on all the macaroni and cheese I've ever eaten was never square and flat. It had to be something closer to a liquid form. A block of cheddar? Nope. Shredded cheddar? Not even close. A-ha! Bleu Cheese was sort of liquidy and even had the "Kraft" logo! It was nearly full, so I dumped the whole bottle into the boiling water along with the penne/macaroni.

FAIL. I don't know if it was the fact that we didn't eat until after 10PM, or that the macaroni and cheese didn't look, feel (isn't all that water supposed to get soaked up?) or taste anything like macaroni and cheese, or maybe it was just the odd metal burr here and there, but the boys weren't happy.

From here on out, it's nothing but meat.

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