A Quick Peek (and Grown Up Mac n Cheese)

Well, we (mostly) finished painting the house just hours ahead of the first storm of the season and man am I glad! The project took longer than we thought it would, as all projects do, but the house looks great. All that is left is to paint the upstairs dormers and do some more caulking of woodpecker holes here and there.  While we’re up there we’ll clear out the gutters as well.

I fully intend to post photos of the house all gussied up, but with the storm in full swing at the moment, you’ll have to be satisfied with this comparison of newly painted siding next to the old siding and funky trim. Same paint color, but the old paint was totally oxidized and peeling so you can really see what a difference the new paint makes.

One great thing about not painting for 20+ years is that when we finally did get around to it, the transformation was astonishing!

As the fella finished up painting in the highest places, Paul and I gathered as much dry manzanita kindling as we could.  Paul also filled all the bins inside with firewood and we covered the piles outside with tarps.  Then we put all the tools and painting equipment away and got inside!

Feeling exhausted and hungry from working, I decided we needed some serious comfort food for dinner, and whipped up a batch of grown-up mac and cheese (see the recipe below).  As we popped open bottles of IPA and dug in, the wind began to blow.

We actually had two extreme tornado warnings yesterday, with a few touching down in the next county and rumors of one literally just down the road (I’m skeptical about that one as it was reported by a local at the grocery store but not confirmed by any other source). Either way it’s wild stuff. We never have tornadoes around here, being as we’re sort of up in the mountains.  Although I can’t claim spotting any funnel clouds myself, we did see some very dramatic thunderstorms, dark ominous clouds, and hail, and we all agreed that was a perfectly acceptable tornado experience and that we don’t need another one, thankyouverymuch.

Here’s a loosey-goosey recipe for grown up mac n cheese. As you know, I cook by the seat of my pants, so these measurements are approximate:


  • 2 cups sharp cheddar, grated
  • 1 cup mozzerella, grated
  • 1 cup blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup half and half at room temperature (milk will work, but all we had was half and half)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 12 oz strong ale (we used IPA, also I drank some before I poured it in, so more like 10 oz…)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons white flour
  • 1 box of whole grain pasta – I used old fashioned elbow macaroni, because not everything has to be grown up
  • 1 cup of thick cut bacon, cut into 1 inch slices, cooked to your preference
  • bread crumbs (I use panko)
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste

Get the pasta going, make sure you salt the water.

To make the cheese sauce, you’re going to start with a roux.  In they heaviest bottomed saucepan you have, using medium-low heat, melt the butter and very lightly saute the garlic.  Then gradually sprinkle in the flour, stirring to incorporate it completely into the butter without making lumps. Allow the flour to cook in the butter for a minute or two. Then very gradually and while stirring constantly, add the half-and half (or milk). You don’t want any lumps, so if lumps start to form, stop adding the cream and stir until the lumps dissolve before adding in the rest of the cream. Once the cream and the flour mixture are totally incorporated and starting to thicken, add your cheddar cheese and stir until it’s completely melted. Then add your blue cheese and stir that until it’s completely melted. Then you want to very slowly pour in your ale while stirring. Don’t do it too quickly or the sauce will lump up. Keep stirring the sauce and use a low heat so it doesn’t burn on the bottom.

Once your pasta is cooked, drain it and put it back into the pot. Using a rubber spatula, pour all the cheese sauce over the cooked pasta and stir to combine. Add the bacon and stir until it is evenly distributed.  Then sprinkle in about half of the mozzerella and stir that up. As the mozzerella melts it will make everything gooey and stringy and awesome.

Transfer the whole mixture into a big glass baking dish or casserole dish. Sprinkle with bread crumbs, the remaining mozzerella cheese, and black pepper to taste. Then bake until the topping is slightly brown.

We had this with some sauteed broccolini and lots of hot sauce. Talk about comfort food!



8 thoughts on “A Quick Peek (and Grown Up Mac n Cheese)

  1. I’m jealous! Snister’s comfort food inside the glowy dome while a storm blows outside? It hasn’t gotten much better in my lifetime anyway. Miss you guys.

  2. Looks fantastic and sounds absolutely delicious, in that order! I love wild weather and am envious of your storm (but would also prefer to remain tornado-free!).

  3. Sounds like quite a storm. I never think of tornadoes as happening in California, but I do remember one that ripped the roof off of the Fresno airport about 10 years ago. The funny thing is….my daughter was always “predicting” tornadoes….and we always assured her “tornadoes don’t happen in CA”. There was just no living with her after she nailed the prediction on this one.

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