Last week I finished uploading all our June road trip photos onto Flickr and it made me a little wistful. I love traveling and exploring new places and it made me wonder where this bug came from. My parents didn’t really travel very much, though my mom made several yearly visits to her family in Quebec. My dad hated going along on those trips so he stayed home while we went away. Maybe it was all the French speaking that gave him worry – English was already his second language and French probably seemed like an extra bother. So off we went, my brother, my mom and me, to the cottage, or to visit all my relatives. Baking tarte au sucre with my grandmaman, going for long walks with grandpapa and fashioning walking sticks out of fallen tree branches, and making time for lots and lots of swimming. At the end of the two weeks, my dad would meet us at the train station and life would get back to normal.
But when I think back to the stories my dad would tell us, many of them were funny stories of him traveling. Like hailing a cab in New York City and asking to be driven to The Lamplighter (the cabbie did a u-turn and let him off across the street). Or hanging out on a boat in Atlantic City with some off-duty ice skaters from a famous touring ice show (the black and white proof can be found in my dad’s photo album). Or wandering into a Florida lesbian bar by mistake in the 1960s. And my parents met while each vacationing in Atlantic City, after all. This from a dad that never travelled. But then I think of the photos that made me emotional and they were the ones of my 3 month old and 2 and a half year old nieces. Home can pull on the heartstrings for sure.
Vancouver isn’t my hometown, but I’ve made it my home. I love it here and I can say there’s nothing better than returning from a long trip and falling into the comfort of being home. And nothing says comfort than making up a batch of macaroni and cheese. I decided to make a stove-top version because it’s summer and I’m not too interested in turning on the oven at the moment. I also decided to make use of the kale from our CSA and found an idea from Bon Appetit that purees the kale and blends it into a traditional cheese sauce. It’s a brilliant idea because you don’t get large bits of leafy greens caught in your teeth and you can keep the pickier eaters guessing. What you get is something very creamy and colourful that feels just a bit healthier than your standard version, yet completely delicious.
I used some short tube shaped pasta because that’s what drew my eye at my local Italian deli, but any short pasta will do. But I will push you to go for a pasta that is tube-shaped rather than something like a rotini corkscrew-thing-a-ma-jigger. Reason: the tube naturally provides more of a hiding space for all that kale-cheesy goodness. Each bite becomes more better and more creamtastic and hella slurpier. Just trust. And enjoy.
elsewhere: Last week I baked up some chewy lime & coconut sugar cookies over at Poppytalk. Thank me later.
stovetop kale mac & cheese
This is a good dish for summer since you don’t need your oven, however this would be lovely baked in the fall & winter. Just transfer the mac and cheese into a baking dish, top with toasted & buttered breadcrumbs and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Bake at 375F until golden brown, about 25 minutes.
250 g short tube pasta
2 T butter
3 T flour
1 t salt
1/2 t aleppo pepper
good grind of black pepper
1 t olive oil
2 green onions, diced
1 bunch of kale, sliced thinly
1/4 c vegetable stock
2 c whole milk
1 c grated cheese (I used a mix of manchego, old cheddar, havarti)
a few hits of your favorite hot sauce (optional)
1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.
2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large sauce pan and add in the green onions, let them sweat for a minute. Add in the kale and the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Remove from pan and blend with a hand blender in a large tumbler or use a traditional blender. Blend to a sauce-like consistency. Set aside.
3. Melt butter in the same sauce pan you just used for the kale. Add flour, salt, and peppers. Stir until mixed, about a minute – you want to cook off the flour so it doesn’t lend a pasty flavour to the dish. Slowly pour in the milk and whisk until you’ve got a thick sauce (you may not need all the milk). Stir in the cheese and hot sauce. Pour in the blended kale and give a good stir. Add in the cooked pasta, tossing to combine. Serve immediately. Makes 6-8 servings.