PSU Vanguard Shield Icon

The single student’s stove, slotted spoon and saloon

Organic Macaroni (or favorite small pasta) from bulk section.
Favorite cheeses, grated.
Veggies: spinach, mushrooms, broccoli, etc.
Opt: your favorite meat.

Mac and cheese is one of those American staples of the table. It’s almost, and it may very well be in some southern states, unlawful to call your childhood complete unless you’ve partaken of the orange, noodled concoction. However, only recently, thanks to restaurants such as Montage, has mac and cheese had something of renaissance. No longer just a box and boil dish, it now sports such fancy fixins as alligator and portabello mushrooms.

Let’s face it though, the blue boxed, prefabricated mac and cheese is for your mother. In today’s organic, free-range, health conscious days buying bulk and buying fresh is not only practical, but down right sexy. So, with that in mind, mosey to the bulk section and fill a bag full of macaroni, or if you feel like being adventuresome get some rotini pasta or if you really want to go crazy try radiatori.

Put your water on to boil, approximately three or four times the amount of water to noodles. While the water is doing its thing, grate your cheese. Personally I like the marbled, combo of jack and cheddar. You’ll want about half the amount of cheese as noodles. So if you’re cookin’ a cup of noodles ya want a half-cup of cheese. Two cups of noodles ya need a cup of cheese.

When you’re done grating go ahead and slice and dice any other goodies you want in. Now for “goodies” there’s a vast array of possibilities, andouille sausage is popular with Montage. If you choose a meat item though, make sure you cook it prior to adding it to the mac. Otherwise a few items I enjoy in my mac are spinach and mushrooms, particularly the meaty portabello.

And about draining … yes, you can use a colander, but why when you’ve got a perfectly good grater just lying nearby and dirty from the cheese? I like to use the hot, boiling water the macaroni has been boiling in as a preemptive strike on the grater.

Anyway, drain the noodles, toss the rest of the goodies in, stir and flavor to taste. Again the beauty of this dish is in its simplicity and the fact you’ve only got one dish to clean.

Vegetarian? Well not really if you’re super strict. I recently discovered almost all cheese uses the lining of cow’s stomach in the process, so …

I’d like to thank the person who stopped in and left me a recipe for Chicken Cordon Bleu and broccoli-cheese soup. They sound like fabulous dishes. Unfortunately, the chicken dish is perhaps a bit too complex. Not, mind you, for the readers, but for me to convey in such limited space as I’m given. As for the broccoli cheese soup I worked years and years at a place where broccoli cheese soup was served daily and as frequently as water is served to fish, so … but it is soup season, isn’t it? Well … we’ll see.

So, if the anonymous donor perhaps has another recipe less intricate and involved for the lay chef please feel free to drop it on by. And this time please leave your name so we may give you due credit.

For others interested in submitting recipes, here are the guidelines, but not necessarily rules per se.

The dish should be easy to prepare, without a lot of “utensils” or “technique” involved. And the price for ingredients should be “minimal,” say under $4 or $5. Otherwise the stove is your oyster. Enjoy, good luck and bon appetite.