Happy New Year! Yep, I’m late in saying that again!
The holidays came and went and now here I am in the upside-down, the limbo time where work has not yet begun and my days are blending in to each other so I say things like, “man, TGIF, amiright?” on Tuesday afternoons. I’m still finding plenty of things to be busy about (hello, top knot YouTube tutorials and Marie Kondo!) and the hours get away from me, but I’m going to vow for the millionth time to update this blog more. Hold me to it.
Sometimes in my pissing away of hours, I drift onto other mommy blogs to see what they’re up to and I read about intricate craft projects and spirulina smoothie recipes and DIY organic honey garlic spice rubs in homemade jars, and I feel like a bit of a lump. Because man, do they make it look easy when they’re assembling 25 goodie bags full of personalized stickers and decorating their porches with all of those pumpkins (so many pumpkins!). Also can we talk about the pictures they post with the pro lighting and fancy white kitchens with the brass hardware I want and how a lot of them are wearing WHITE while they’re baking with their children? I cannot help but be fascinated by this parallel universe. Because surely these moms have disorganized crazy mornings like we do where they put dry shampoo in their kids’ hair so it looks like they’ve seen a bathtub in the past 48 hours. And surely they’re also hiding PJs under their coats at school drop off. Surely they have nights where they throw screen time rules out the window and feed their children fries from the frozen food section just to have life be easy for a quick second. We’re all in the same boat and fighting pretty much the same battles, aren’t we? Maybe I just need a better photographer.
Because of this deep and nagging need to be a fancy crafty mom just this once, in my holiday-induced fog of love (and probably wine) I agreed to serve hot lunch at my son’s school. And lo and behold, they actually held me to the deal. They gave me a sample list of “things kids like” that included hot dogs, pizza, “nuggets”, and mac and cheese. Of course me being a show off and dying to look like an overachieving expert mom, I couldn’t fathom the idea of serving plain ol hot dogs or frozen nuggets (there is a lesson here). So I decided to make macaroni and cheese from scratch. Because that’s what those Instagram influencer moms would do.
Except here’s the real truth. Being knee deep in mac and cheese that day with all the pots I own sharing space on the stove and cheese in my hair and my phone pinging with texts from the other moms at the school letting me know at the LAST MINUTE that some of the kids were gluten free and even VEGAN did nothing for my mom status but stress me the hell out. No kid at the school cared about my 3 year aged cheddar, Ina Garten-inspired recipe or my must-have addition of breadcrumbs and olive oil on the top to give it the best crust ever. All those little gremlins wanted were plain noodles with butter (or gluten free noodles with soy substitute?) and I had proved nothing to no one, except to my husband that I had gone even further insane.
So I’m vowing to stick to my strengths. No need to prove anything more. If I get the whim to volunteer to provide a giant meal again, I will do the rational thing and make my way to Costco for something pre-cooked, and preserve my precious energy. Because lord knows these little cajun spice jars aren’t going to fill themselves.
I’m including my favourite homemade macaroni and cheese recipe here because it is indeed incredibly delicious and not at all fat-free, mildly photogenic in the right lighting and satisfying as heck. Plus, my kid eats it. (With loads of ketchup and bribery that I will let him watch more Paw Patrol but WHATEVER, he’s eating it.)
My hats are off to you moms with your beautiful inspirational blogs that I will continue to devour and enjoy. Thank you for giving me something to gaze at and aspire to. You’re amazing.
And to the ones who just got out of bed this morning and don’t have it in them to do much else, you’re amazing, too. We’re all really quite awesome just the way we are.
PS yes, Dads, I mean you too. I need more dad blogs in my life.
Better Than Costco Mac and Cheese
1 lb of macaroni
4 cups of whole milk
1 stick of unsalted butter
1/2 cup of all purpose flour
2 cups of aged white cheddar cheese, grated
2 cups of havarti cheese, grated
2 cups of parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup of fine breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
salt and pepper
olive oil for drizzling
Preheat the oven to 375F
Bring water in a big pot to boil over high heat. Salt the water generously and boil the macaroni noodles for about 8 minutes until just al dente.
Melt the butter over medium-high heat in another large pot. Whisk in the flour, cook for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk. Bring up to a simmer and let it go for a few minutes until it coats the back of a spoon. Season with salt and a little more generously with pepper. Add the nutmeg. Take it off the heat and stir in the cheddar and havarti.
Stir the cheese sauce into the drained macaroni.
Grease the bottom of a casserole pan with a drizzle of olive oil. Add the macaroni and sauce. Sprinkle the parmesan all over the top. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and another drizzle of olive oil. Bake for 25-30 minutes uncovered until the top is golden brown. Enjoy this plus leftovers while watching the Bachelor when your children are finally in bed. Pairs nicely with “leftover” wine. HAHAHA that’s not a thing.