macaroni and cheese, barley lentil stew

I’m not going to count last night’s dinner as part of my 40 for 40, as both things are riffs on recipes I’ve made several times before.  Lolo came over, needing to dispose of a lot of heavy cream and cheese, and I was immediately reminded of Sauveur’s Southern-Style macaroni and cheese, mostly because when my fridge crapped out (the first time), I needed a good way to use up a lot of the dairy in a hurry.  This recipe hits on all the big ones- heavy cream, half and half, sour cream, cheese, and eggs added for good measure.  It is the macaroni and cheese I remember from foil pans in church basements, the kind of food that people bring over after a funeral.

It is decidedly different from my (and my mother’s version) – al dente noodles swimming in a luxuriously creamy custard, dotted with pockets of cheese.  Lactards (I use the term with endearment!) in the audience, avert your eyes!  My recipe is more of a traditional casserole, denser, peppery, and despite copious amounts of butter, whole milk (really, is there any other kind?) and cheese, healthier than the Sauveur version.  That version is especially adaptable last night I used smoked Gruyère and aged cheddar (that’s what Lolo provided), and added milk to the half and half, as I only had about a third of the required amount.  And, because I am me, I forgot the flour.  Oops.

The second recipe was a barley and lentil stew.  Late one night last week, I decided to get rid of all the sundry bags in my cabinet and organize things in mason jars- lentils, oats, beans…and barley, leftover from a fourth of July party two years ago.  I’ve recently traded my rolled oats for steel-cut oats, and have been exploring the bulk bins at my store with a little more interest.  I always have lentils around, as they cook faster than beans, and can be salad or stew or dal or anything, really.  I paired this with pork meatballs from the kitchn, and the meatballs contributed something that led Lolo to remark “the ginger in this is great!”

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40 in 40

Growing up in the Episcopal church, Lent was always a time not only to give something up,but to take something on.  I’m still not sure how religious I am, but I do keep with a lot of those Episcopal traditions, because I like them and they remind me of my childhood.

To that end, I like to think of Lent as less of a religious holiday, but more as sort of a redo of my new year’s resolutions.  I have a deep sense of disappointment whenever I fail in my Lenten resolutions, despite usually blowing the new year’s resolutions to smithereens by January 12th.  And, as I’m sure many of you have noticed, if you do something consistently for 40 days, it’s pretty easy for it to become a habit.

So I’ve decided to make two big resolutions.  First of all, I will be posting here, once a day, Monday through Friday.  I miss blogging, I miss the 10 of you that read this blog, and I miss writing.  With any luck, the habit will stick.  Secondly, I am flexing my cooking muscles and making 40 different dishes in 40 days.  My day job has gone from batshit insane to moderately insane, so most of my cooking will happen on the weekends and the recipes will be spread out during the week.  But, like my crazy idea to do 12 days of cookies, I hope it’ll make me a better cook.

 

Into the breach…