Today's the first official open day for the campground. We hear there are a couple of RVs expected to arrive for the weekend. The folks don't actually have their first work day until Sunday, so the plan is to do a little landscaping around our site today. They bought some flowers at a local nursery yesterday and also bought something called "Earth boxes" to plant tomatoes and herbs for Mom to cook with.
These earth boxes have a fatal flaw, they raise the plants above our special 'strike zone'. We feel leaving them unmarked makes them vulnerable to woodland creature attack, a fate which will not occur to the car tires.
Our olfactory examination of the Earth Boxes revealed we'll have several kinds of heirloom tomatoes, something the folks seem quite excited about. We aren't sure what the big deal is - if it's not meat, cheese, pizza crust, Ben and Jerry's frozen yogurt, or Cider Mill donuts, we see no point in wasting our tummy space on it. I mean what would we do with a Mr. Stripey anyway?
To kick the season off, all the work campers and the campground owners got together for a pot luck dinner last night. We got a little sample of what Mom made, some true comfort food for a cool, breezy day. She combined two recipes to come up with this one, and says it has more calories than the two original recipes put together.
6 Tbs butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
5 1/2 cups milk
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
18 oz sharp or extra sharp cheddar, grated
8 oz gruyere or fontina cheese, grated
1 lb elbow macaroni
3/4 cup panko
2 Tbs butter
1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish or 9 x 13 pan; set aside.
2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter. Measure panko into a small bowl and pour butter over panko and toss. Set aside.
3. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a 3 1/2 quart or larger saucepan. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.
4. Slowly pour milk into flour-butter mixture while whisking. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.
5. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, mustard, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and roughly 2/3 of each of the cheeses. Stir until the cheese is melted and incorporated into sauce. Set cheese sauce aside.
6. Cook pasta 2 to 3 fewer minutes than manufacturer's directions, until outside of pasta is cooked and inside is underdone. Drain well. Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.
7. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese; scatter panko over the top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes; serve.