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“Crisp bacon strips, sliced French bread, hot cheesy sauce, on a plate full of macaroni!”

December 25, 2017, 10:14 AM

For the last several years, I’ve made it something of a tradition of watching the Today’s Special episodes “Christmas Part 1” and “Christmas Part 2” on or around Christmas Eve.  It only makes sense to me.  Most Christmas specials are awful, but Today’s Special‘s two Christmas episodes are outside of that mold, taking the same care with Christmas that they do when discussing the night or feelings.  The end result is a timeless story that still leaves me feeling warm and fuzzy inside after all these years.

This year, I decided to take a minor element from those episodes and bring it into real life.  Across the two episodes, they sing their own variation of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” using food.  It starts out early when Sam sings, “On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a plate full of macaroni!”  Then Muffy later adds, “Hot cheesy sauce on my plate full of macaroni!”  Near the end of the second episode, it takes its full form:

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me crisp bacon strips, sliced French bread, hot cheesy sauce, on a plate full of macaroni!

So on Friday evening, I went to the grocery store after work and bought this:

Pasta, generic Velveeta, bread, and bacon.
Pasta, generic Velveeta, bread, and bacon.

And then the next day, I went to town with all of this on my new electric stove to make a Christmas meal for Elyse and myself.  Boil and drain the pasta.  Slice the bread.  Put the cheese in a pot with some milk and cook it.  And throw some bacon in the skillet.  I suppose that this is a lesson in the shortcomings of “real men don’t need instructions”.  I was flying by the seat of my pants here, and the result demonstrated my level of experience in preparing certain items.  I have lots of experience with cooking pasta, so that came out perfecty.  Then this was my cheese sauce:

Burnt cheese sauce

It looks nice and all, but unfortunately, I burned it.  I didn’t know that it was possible to burn cheese sauce, but burn it I did.  I learned after the fact that you’re supposed to cook these sorts of things “low and slow” because otherwise, you’ll burn it.  I cooked it on high due on account of not knowing any better, and the rest was history.  The flavor was a combination of Velveeta and “burnt”.  Apparently, the answer to, “Is burnt a flavor?” is yes, because that’s the flavor that my cheese sauce was.

French bread, meanwhile, is pretty hard to screw up.  The bread was already made, so all I had to do was slice it up with a bread knife.  Done.

Then there was the bacon.  Elyse absolutely wouldn’t let me get microwave bacon (read: she wouldn’t let me cheat), and so I bought real bacon and had to cook it.  I didn’t know exactly how long to cook bacon, and was concerned about undercooking it.  Nothing like having eaten something that doesn’t agree on account of its being undercooked, and then calling to be relieved for a “personal” (i.e. a restroom break) while you’re operating a subway train.  So in the end, you guessed it – I ended up burning the bacon, too, out of fear of undercooking it.  I don’t believe that bacon is supposed to break apart in a brittle manner when you touch it with a fork.  However, no one got food poisoning from undercooked bacon on account of me, so I suppose that I was successful in that regard.

And this was the final result:

Crisp bacon strips, sliced French bread, hot cheesy sauce, on a plate full of macaroni, indeed.  And then with the meal prepared, I turned on the entertainment:

"It's Christmas Eve tonight..."
“It’s Christmas Eve tonight…”

And then when the episode was over and the meal concluded, the smell of burnt food lingered in the air.  Food can be petty like that.  You burn a couple of things, and then rather than forgive you for your transgressions and produce the beautiful smell of a freshly made meal, all you can smell is the thing that you burned, as if the food is punishing you for burning some of it.  Stupid food.

All in all, though, I think that this was a good plan, even if the execution wasn’t exactly spot on.  This was a good starting point, and I can improve on this next time.  I have more bacon to practice cooking with, and so maybe I’ll get it right next time there rather than burning it.  Likewise, I now know to slow down with the cheese sauce, so as not to burn it in the future.  I also think I overdid the macaroni.  I took the song literally, i.e. “a plate full of macaroni,” and so I filled the plates.  Pasta can be deceiving when you’re figuring out how much to use.  I think I served up too much macaroni, and so I will use less next time.

In any case, season’s greetings to all, and now I have to swim all of those carbs off.