Giving up (on) Macaroni and Cheese

I like Macaroni and Cheese. Probably too much. Given my weight-loss surgery, I’m suppose to focus on protein, and mac-n-cheese is not a bastion of protein. (Unless I add bacon and ham. But even then, it’s still primarily a fat-and-carb combo.)

I grew up eating Kraft Mac-N-Cheese every Saturday. Blue box, neon orange “cheese” powder; no superhero noodle shapes, just plain old original Kraft dinner. My Oma made it for me in her special way: boiling the noodles to death, skipping the milk, and adding extra butter. It was soft and mushy and orange.

Fast forward twenty-five plus years, and I like to cook. I “discovered” cooking soon after my weight-loss surgery, when I had weird cravings that could not be met. Rather than waste my money at restaurants, I tried cooking. Typically my cravings still weren’t met — having weight-loss surgery jolted me in the same way pregnancy does; I think it affected my entire body and my brain — but at least now I wasn’t wasting so much money, and I could cry that everything tasted weird and awful in the safety of my own kitchen rather than at a table in the middle of a restaurant.

I never thought I could cook, particularly meat. I thought raw meat was gross, I thought I lacked the gene for cooking — my mom is a proud feminist — and I just didn’t believe in my own cooking ability. But as everyone said, cooking is simply reading a recipe — and more recently, cooking is simply watching YouTube videos — and I am a good cook.

Except I cannot cook macaroni and cheese.

I am physically capable of cooking it. I have tried a multitude of ways. I have tried Chuck’s Mac-n-cheese recipe on allrecipes.com, and several variations. I have tried Paula Deen’s Mac-n-cheese three times. I have tried using a roux for a base, using cottage cheese, using sour cream, using cream cheese (My Chemical Romance’s least favorite). Each time, it’s okay, it tastes okay but I don’t really like it that much and really, to be honest, it kind of sucks and I’d rather have Kraft dinner.

So, after having yet another plate of yet another underwhelming crock-pot Macaroni and Cheese recipe, I’m ready to wave the white flag. I am not giving up Macaroni and Cheese; I am simply giving up on making it. I had a childhood deprived of real macaroni and cheese, and therefore the only macaroni and cheese that truly tastes like macaroni and cheese, to me, comes in a blue box with neon orange powder. It’s soft and mushy and orange.

And, to me, it tastes delicious!

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7 Responses

  1. You’re so lucky to have grown up with Kraft, I grew up with boiled macaroni, coated with a can of cream of mushroom soup and a cup of grated cheddar cheese, baked for 30 minutes. GROSS! I became enamored with Kraft Mac n Cheese at first bite … until one day, in the throes of morning sickness a piece of macaroni shot through my nose!!! It took a mere 30+ years before I could eat it again. Now, you’ll find it in my doula bag.

  2. Family Circle’s website has a great macaroni and cheese recipe. http://www.familycircle.com/recipes/comfortfood/new-macaroni-cheese-recipes/?page=14 It is delicious, especially when you use Velveeta slices for the sliced American cheese. Even tastes good with Quinoa noodles. I grew up LOVING the Kraft Mac n Cheese, but needed to find a sub when I had to eliminate gluten. It is very easy to make, too. The hardest part is slicing up the sliced cheese.

  3. I hope you like it. No one should have to give up on Mac n Cheese. 😉

  4. Alex: I felt a violent lurch in my stomach reading your post. GROSS, indeed. Perhaps your mom (and or dad) went to the same cooking school as my dad! He was the king of Cream-of-Mushroom-soup-usage!

    • One of the most important recipes I have memorized is a simple cream base for casseroles. Equal amounts butter and flour, then about a cup of liquid (water, chicken stock, milk, cream, sherry, whatever), and salt/pepper. If I’m making something specific to mushrooms, I’ll add a can of diced mushrooms (or diced celery or whatever the recipe calls for.)

  5. Kraft mac’n’cheese is the ONLY mac for me!!! (and for supreme laziness: try easy mac! it nukes in your microwave in 4 minutes!)

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