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Comfort Food

April 5, 2011

The weather in the Tetons lately has been erratic…completely normal, but erratic. For those of you who don’t live in the mountains at 6200′, let me fill you in on our seasons. We have summer for a beautiful 1-2 months, usually July and August. By summer, I mean that you are not likely to get snow and you may even be able to be out at night with a light sweater. After that we often have a tremendous fall. The weather can still be gorgeous, 40’s – 60’s into November if we are lucky…this is not usual, but I have had a few days of t-shirt yard work in November. Of course winter usually starts in October and basically runs into June. Winter has one subcategory, Mud Season. I suppose you can call it spring, but when I was growing up, spring meant “April showers bring May flowers.” Last week I had to put up a calender bulletin board in a 1st/2nd grade class for April. I used an umbrella, 2 snowflakes and a robin. That about sums it up. It is wet and cold and the birds are back in full force mating in our yard. Mobley, our dog is getting his exercise chasing the poor things off the compost pile and out of our yard. Don’t get me wrong. We do get some beautiful days where it almost hits 50 degrees and the sun makes you strip down to a tank top. These are the days that keep us all from going postal.

When I look outside on a day like today, the sky is gray, they lawn is mostly melted out leaving large patches of brown grass and mud. I can see most of my garden bed, and I just placed my seed order, but really, the idea of summer seems so far away. On the beautiful days I run to the store and buy fresh fruit and yearn for light salads. On days like today all I want is a big bowl of comfort food…and what epitomizes comfort food more than mac and cheese. I have been on the quest for the “ultimate mac and cheese” for years. I even tried Tyler Florence’s “Ultimate Mac and Cheese” twice. It is ok, but not the ultimate in my book. I decided the other day (one that was not unlike today) that it was time to try out another recipe from one of my recent Bon Appetit magazines…it was the cover and looked so gooey and delightful. It was Pimiento Mac and Cheese.

I am not a southerner, so I did not grow up eating pimiento cheese, but any recipe with the word “piquant” is right up my alley. First problem was…surprise surprise…I couldn’t find one of the main ingredients, Pickadew Peppers. In their place I used the sweet cherry peppers that were in our fridge. The second problem I found while reading reviews of the recipe on Many people loved the recipe, but several found it lacking creaminess. To rectify this I replaced the 1/2 cup water that is called for with 1/2 cup of whole milk. Other than that, I followed the recipe mostly as written.

So how did it turn out?  It was delicious. The tangy flavor from the cherry peppers was a welcome deviation from typical mac and cheese. It was rich with a crisp topping.

Did it satisfy my every mac and cheese need? Not exactly. It didn’t have the stringy, gooey love as I dipped the serving spoon into the pot. Will I make this recipe again? Most definitely…but I am still on the quest for the Ultimate Mac and Cheese.


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