Column: Mac and cheese, gimlets and the art of advice


On some days, things don’t go so well in suburban McZena, at my farm home.

Today, for instance, much consultation was required to help two outstanding people, a family member and dear friend.

What do you do when you feel pressured?

I, like numerous others, turn to something that I think will give me comfort.

Unfortunately, it’s usually food.

Today my mind roamed back to the days when mom would fix real macaroni and cheese here at the farmstead.

This is not the kind of macaroni and cheese that comes from a box.

I know lots of people who find preparing that kind of dish preferable. What is there to think about? You open the box, follow instructions, and you have a meal.

(I didn’t say it would be a balanced meal, but it would be a meal).

Handsome stepson Kip would fix that kind of macaroni and cheese, I am sure, in his days at the University of Michigan.

For me, though, the founder of a scratch bakery and prepared foods business, I feel dishes need to be the real thing.

Having never prepared real macaroni and cheese, I consulted one of my great books that tells the uninitiated how to proceed.

This time, from the “Best of Gourmet, 1995.”

Sublime, that publication.

Believe it or not, to be politically correct, you first must prepare a roux.

This involves adding flour and butter to milk, whisking until thickened. That concoction must be seasoned with a bit of cayenne, and some dry mustard.

You cook macaroni, combine it with the roux and stir in grated cheddar. You top all that with freshly grated parmesan and add dried bread crumbs.

Then you bake the little sucker.

This little dish glimmers from all that good and gooey cheese.

I frequently profess to be above all that need for comfort.

On certain days? Not.

(I wonder how many days of the week I can continue to prepare those kinds of dishes?)

I decided I must adopt the stance I was trying to pass on to my two needy friends, the advice seekers.

So, advice to you, dear readers, is presented at no charge.

If you’ve got troubles: you usually must breathe deeply, first. Then realize tomorrow will look a bit different, and you can start fresh.

Everyone has momentary dips, and solace is sought.

I told my one advice seeker I might offer a sure softener to a person who is named in any exchange of needs and wants. (One person, who shall remain nameless, was portrayed as needy — in her own way — by the one advice seeker).

I told this advice seeker I thought I had perfected the way to make the perfect vodka gimlet.

This libation could be offered. and perhaps a kind conversation would ensue.

However, for the moment? Real macaroni and cheese is the answer.

If you want to know the secret to the gimlet, just sent in your query.

No charge for that, either.

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