"All I had wanted to do was purchase a box of macaroni & cheese, some white rice and two tomatoes. But then, I heard the store manager yelling, "Who let that dog in? Who let that dirty dog in?" I couldn't see anything but rolling vegetables and Winn-Dixie employees waving their arms, until a big, ugly dog skidded to a stop right in front of me and smiled. What was a lonely 10 year old to do? I told the store manager he was my dog and that his name was Winn-Dixie. So I don't think very fast .. so what if the store's name is Winn-Dixie. Anyway, I yelled "Here, boy! Here, Winn-Dixie!" And what was a stray dog to do? He obediently came to me and smiled so hard that he sneezed. It was love at first sight. Now, I, India Opal Buloni, of Naomi Florida need to convince my preacher Dad that we need a dog. After all, my Mom isn't around, and I need company. And we all know a dog can change your life, can't it?"
--BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE, by Kate DiCamill
We are back after a Cooking from the Books holiday hiatus, with mac-n-cheese for a school potluck inspired by Because of Winn Dixie, a book that K's 4th grade teacher read out loud to the class earlier this year.
From K: "It is about a girl who finds a dog at a supermarket, called Winn Dixie. The girl takes the dog home and the story is about the girl and the dog, who she names Winn Dixie. The dog goes everywhere with the girl. Everywhere. The girl has red hair and is 10 and he name in India Opal Bologna (sp), like the lunch meat. The librarian gives the girl lozenges that taste like strawberry, root beer and sorrow. There is a party and Winn Dixie goes missing but the girl and her dad find her."
"I liked the book. I usually like the books that Jeff, my teacher, reads to the class. It was the first one we heard this school year. I had read it before and liked it then too. My favorite thing is that the girl is a red head like me. Usually stories with redheads are good stories. There is no mom in the book. Why are there so often not moms in books or movies?"
Mac N Cheese
Based on a recipe K learned in her Sprouts Cooking Class.
Note: Oddly, I have never made baked mac-n-cheese before, probably because it has only been in the past six months that K has been willing to eat it. Although everyone raves about the Martha Stewart version, K voted for the one she learned at Flour & Water so that is what we made.
2 oz butter
2 oz flour
1 qt milk
1 pound cheddar cheese (grated) (As always grating is an excellent job for kids)
2 T kosher salt
1 T black pepper
2 boxes pasta, cooked (In class they made pasta, at home we used whole wheat cause K likes it)
2 cups chopped romanesco broccoli, blanched (optional, but we had some from our Mystery Box)
1 cup of breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt butter and add flour, whisk aggressively to combine and cook until golden. Add milk and whisk until it boils. Make sure to scrap bottom with rubber spatula so the sauce doesn't burn. Add cheese, salt and pepper and continue to whisk until all of the cheese is melted.
Add the cooked pasta to your cheese sauce sauce and mix well. Pour pasta and sauce into a greased 9x12 baking dish (or two smaller pans). Top with breadcrumbs and bake for 30-45 minutes or until breadcrumbs are toasted.