Four Ingredient Macaroni and Cheese

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Have you heard about the four ingredient macaroni and cheese?

It’s so easy!

All you do is throw elbow macaroni, shredded cheddar, cream cheese and milk into a slow cooker and turn it on low. Voila–in four hours a pot of creamy, cheesy mac with no aritificial colours, flavours or powders. Just homemade goodness!

It sounds too good to be true, right?

Sadly, if it sounds too good to be true, it is.

Despite following the recipe to the letter (something I rarely do), we ended up trying to choke down a thick, starchy mass that didn’t resemble macaroni and cheese in anything other than scent.

We each did our best to eat a small serving with dinner, but even the dog couldn’t muster up any enthusiasm for four-ingredient slow cooker mac and cheese.

There was a bright side to our dinner debacle, though. When I chiseled it out of the slow cooker, I found a smooth surface with the consistency of rubber. A home cook with a talent for whittling could produce an assortment of paper weights, bouncy balls and dog chew toys with the leftovers.

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The Turkey Vulture

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Ding Dong! The strike is dead!

Let us all rejoice as we head back to class three weeks into the school year.

Resuming regular responsibilities after the never-ending summer requires some adjustment. In addition to the early call of the alarm clock and the daily dilemma of what to wear:

1. Normal cooking has now been resumed. No more grazing on bags of salad, frozen pizza and ice cream because I’m too fraught to cook. I’ve got a hearty chicken and vegetable stew bubbling in the crock pot and I’m gearing up to make chocolate chip oatmeal cookies for lunch box treats. Now we’re talking!

2. Not everyone is thrilled with the new schedule. After three months of constant companionship, our needy Chihuahua is less than pleased to be left alone all day when we go to work/school.

3. Kindness comes when you least expect it. Last week, I received something in the mail. I called my sailor.

“Someone sent us a Turkey Voucher!”

“A turkey vulture?”

“Voucher, not vulture.”

Turkey Vouchers are a local thing–a coupon we can exchange for delicious turkey goodness–mmm! Someone, who only put their return address on the envelope, sent me one.

Using my well-developed detective skills (and a reverse address search site), I discovered who sent it and was able to call to thank them. Apparently our turkey benefactors had noticed my stress level going through the roof as the strike progressed and wanted to do something nice for me.

Thank you!

4. Best of all–I had time to contact the Christmas tree farm lady and cancel my journey into the wilderness. I remain gloriously bear bite free as I go back to my real job!

Crock Pot

004Barring a strike by support workers, school starts next week.

It’s already starting to get dark earlier and the weather has changed. Our ten month stretch of liquid sunshine (rain for those not on the Wet Coast) has started with a mighty splish splash.

While the onset of fall sends many moms to Wal-Mart hunting for notebooks, pencils and cute school outfits, it inspires me to dig out the Crock Pot and start a hearty stoup–not quite soup and not exactly stew. It’s an obviously homemade creation that’s the best of both.

I don’t use the Crock Pot during the scorching days of summer because it warms up the house too much. It’s psychological heat rather than an actual increase in temperature, but the scent of chicken and vegetables simmering all day is off putting when it’s in the high 20’s outside. When it’s cool and rainy?–Nothing could be better!

Today’s meal is a sloppy tomato, herb and chicken mess. It’s the kind of thing my fussy eater normally wouldn’t touch, but my years of motherhood have taught me a few tricks. I first served it when my boy had a friend over–the youngest of five with two crazy busy parents. This little guy is the kind of kid who’s learned to eat whatever’s put in front of him because no one’s going to cook something special for him if he doesn’t like the first choice.

Our guest dug into my tomato chicken mess with gusto and even asked for seconds. My boy, too embarrassed to order peanut butter toast or spaghetti with butter in front of his friend, actually ate what I cooked and (wonder of wonders!) he liked it!

This brings us to the Sailor’s Woman parenting tip of the day: introduce new foods in front of a peer, preferably one of those delightful children who has been conditioned to eat whatever’s put in front of him because he comes from a big, busy family. Seeing his friend dig into what you’ve so lovingly prepared is often enough to shame your picky eater into eating it, too. It’s the upside to peer pressure.

It may be raining kittens and Chihuahuas outside and I may be missing my sailor, but at least I only had to make one dinner tonight!