Tag Archives: Spaghetti

Not on My Bucket List

Have you made a bucket list?

I haven’t. Lists demand thought. Strike-throughs. Check marks.

(Yawn) Sloth — er, contentment — is so much more relaxing.

So is staying in a rut, retort alpha personalities.

Okay, okay. To inspire my grandchildren, I should aspire to higher objectives than counting dust bunnies.

After all, a fascinating world awaits me. Places to go. Things to do. Possibilities swirl through my brain like flocks of starlings. How can I choose a few among thousands of flapping, chirping alternatives?

Finally, I settle on a first step . . . what not to include on my bucket list:

  • I will never run for President. I’d spend 90 percent of my term trying to elude the Secret Service. Who wants their President to live in a dumpster? Bad deal for everyone.
  • I won’t brush with eggplant-flavored toothpaste.
  • I don’t plan to train as a snake milker.
  • I’ll never embrace a low-carb diet. Life without spaghetti? Home-baked bread? Surely, you jest.
  • Nor am I obsessed with memorizing all 49 Vice Presidents.
  • I will never — and no one else had better — line up Metallica to sing “Happy Birthday” to me.
  • Many wish to run with the bulls in Spain. Should this mad urge to sprint with bovines overwhelm me, I can always run with cows in Indiana.
  • I will never don skinny jeans. You’re welcome.
  • I’ve considered visiting England as a for-real bucket-list item. However, I won’t enter the World Worm Charming Championships in Willaston. There, hundreds of participants not only jab with pitchforks, but play ukuleles and clarinets to bring squirmy little friends to the surface. And, no, I am not making this up.
  • You will not see me drive in a NASCAR race. Walmart parking lots provide sufficient excitement.
  • I will never run a marathon in stilettos.
  • I refuse to cultivate Venus flytraps. Plants with teeth give me the willies.
  • Nor will I kiss frogs. I like kissing my husband too much. Besides, he’s already a prince.

I will never aspire to:

  • Rollerblade down Mount Rainier.
  • Chase tornadoes. I also prefer they don’t chase me.
  • Join Chocolate Haters of America.
  • Finally, though I like eating grits, I’ll never enter the Rolling in the Grits Contest in St. George, South Carolina. There, a contestant weighs, then hops into a kiddie pool filled with 27 cases of grits. The goal: to fill pockets and baggy clothes with the sticky Southern favorite. One champion emerged from the kiddie pool 66 pounds heavier! That alone convinces me it doesn’t belong on my bucket list.

This exercise only cuts my bucket list choices from a gazillion to a billion. But, hey, it’s a beginning.

And (yawn) so relaxing . . .

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you compiled a non-bucket list?

Macaroni and Cheese, Everybody?

My grandson loves football and macaroni and cheese.

Today, Hubby and I will cheer for our grandson’s football team. Afterward, he’ll want to eat the house.

To spare his family’s abode — and to celebrate victory or comfort in loss — I’m baking this special player’s favorite macaroni and cheese.

An all-American dish, right?

Nope. Historians believe a 14th-century Italian cookbook, Liber de Coquina, contains the first written mention of pasta and cheese. Americans can thank Thomas Jefferson, who brought a macaroni and cheese recipe and pasta maker home from Europe.

My football player probably isn’t interested in mac ’n’ cheese history. He simply wants to fill that huge emptiness inside. Grandma boasts two recipes: his great-grandmother’s, plus one recently discovered on the Internet.

Unlike many 1960s homemakers, Mom didn’t cook the 19-cents-a-box food made popular during the Depression. Instead, she boiled spaghetti, then added inexpensive margarine and whatever cheese had escaped five-kids-in-the-house foraging.

Her recipe proved invaluable during my Hubby’s medical school years. I’ll never forget one spaghetti-and-cheese supper, when he’d lost sleep several nights. After saying grace, I looked up to see Hubby facedown in a plateful of our entrée.

Fast-forward several decades, when he invited students for a cookout. Would they consider my spaghetti fetish — and me — weird? Risotto or gnocchi might boost my sophistication ratings, but food costs would skyrocket.

Cheap won. For the first time, I prepared mac ’n’ cheese — not only popular with students, but later, with our grandson.

Not everyone welcomes different versions, especially as cheese enthusiasts rarely compromise. Some insist on American or cheddar. Discerning palates may require brie, smoked Gouda, or goat cheese.

Others, if stranded on a desert island, would refuse the stove-top version, as real mac ’n’ cheese demands an oven-baked crust.

A recent San Francisco macaroni and cheese contest’s entries might raise Midwestern eyebrows, with additives like nutmeg, mustard, and even cinnamon and sugar. Vegetables took center stage: mushrooms, tomatoes, brussels sprouts and that darling of the veggie world, kale.

Some even added fruit, such as figs.

The judges, including Smithsonian Magazine writer and cheese merchant Gordon Edgar, awarded first place to macaroni and cheese featuring aged Vermont cheddar.

The cultured audience, however, chose a different entry — and were shocked to silence when the winner revealed his main ingredient.

Velveeta®.

This dish, even in its many variations, has and will endure. When my football-playing grandson needs comfort or celebration food, mac ’n’ cheese will be there for him.

Americans’ political views are even more diverse than our versions of macaroni and cheese. But acknowledging differences, can’t we lean on the basic recipe, our comfort and celebration for almost 250 years?

I want that to be there for my football player, too.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite macaroni and cheese recipe?