Here’s the deal. Macaroni and cheese is my favorite thing to eat. Ever. It’s my “death row last meal” thing. I mean, if I ever end up on death row for… oh, I don’t know… not using my turn signal on an empty road (because that’s about as wild as I get), then mac and cheese will definitely be on that last menu. So it’s not a surprise to learn that my favorite dish growing up was Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, out of the blue box, with the powdered cheese in a package that apparently came from some crackhead cow.
Then, as I got older, I discovered money. And this thing called money allowed me access to other kinds of mac and cheese. Like, real mac and cheese, made from real macaroni and real, actual cheese. And I love it! Unless somebody overcooks the macaroni, which is just a sin. But otherwise, you can almost never go wrong with giving me some mac and cheese.
Well, one day, a few years ago, I got it in my head to go back to my roots and try some Kraft Macaroni and Cheese again. It had been years since we made it. And I just wanted that flavor, that feeling, that “thing” that I remembered from my childhood.
So we made some. And I put it in my mouth. And it was nothing like I remembered. All I tasted were chemicals, and I heaved and convulsed as the bright orange noodle grossness oozed out of my nostrils and onto the quivering heads of my eager dogs.
Okay, I’m exaggerating. Just a little bit.
But it really did taste kind of vomitous. And I told myself I would never fall for that Jedi mind trick again.
Then sometime later, Jodi came across this cookbook called Bravetart by Stella Parks. Because Jodi never met a cookbook she didn’t like.
Well, this cookbook is amaaaazing. This woman, one of the best pastry chefs in the world, has spent months and years finding the secrets to re-creating the foods of her childhood memories. The idea isn’t to re-create these things as they exist on the store shelves today, but to re-create them as they exist in your memory banks.
“If Stella had a superpower (which I’m convinced she does), it’s her ability to tap directly into those parts of our brains that store our childhood memories, unlocking them and stimulating desires that we never even knew we had, hidden away like the creme in the middle of a Hostess CupCake.”J. Kenji Lopez-Alt (from the Foreword)
The first thing Jodi made from this cookbook were Nutter Butter cookies. And yep, they had that “thing” that I remember. Pretty. Darn. Good.
And while the cookbook is just about sweets, and there is no recipe in there to bring back the good old Kraft Macaroni and Cheese that I remember, just looking through the table of contents has got my brain going in all kinds of directions.
Here are 10 things from this cookbook that I’m really curious about. I’m not saying that they’re the first 10 things I’d like to try from this cookbook, but they’re the items that I just think, “Wow, I wonder what that would be like.”
This is my favorite Girl Scout cookie. But as I’ve aged, I’m finding that they don’t seem to taste as good as I remember. These days, they’re more like, I don’t know, recycled chocolate cardboard maybe? Sure, I’ll still eat a whole sleeve of them, but the whole time I’ll be thinking, “Hey, I’m eating recycled chocolate cardboard discs.”
Haven’t had one of these in years, but I’m guessing it also would not taste the same. I’m guessing maybe it would have the flavor of chocolate tree bark with pebbles. Of course, I’m just guessing. Who knows, maybe I’d still like Snickers.
AKA Snickers minus the pebbles.
Now this would be a trip I bet. It’s probably been 30 years since I’ve eaten Wonder Bread. You know, the way God intended, with peanut butter and jelly, or with ham and cheese and sticking to the roof of your mouth in globs.
Actually, what I really pestered my mom to buy all those years ago were Little Debbies Snack Cakes. But Hostess CupCakes will do in an emergency.
McDonald’s Apple Pies
Seems like a hundred years since I’ve eaten at McDonald’s. We used to eat there all the time, back in the long long ago, in the before time. But then we decided that we kind of wanted to live past the age of 47, so we quit it years and years ago. But those apple pies that gave you first-degree burns… They just remind me of being a teenager and going on a late night “crap run” to McDonald’s with my brothers and sisters.
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
Okay, now, I have not entirely given these up. I mean, that would just be… wrong. So I know exactly what they taste like today. But still, I’d love to see how this homemade recipe would come out.
I don’t know if this lady’s recipe shows you how to also make the box and the prize in it, as well as whatever the actual Cracker Jack stuff is, but that would be really cool.
I cannot believe she has this in the cookbook. I was probably about 10 years old when this stuff first started showing up on the supermarket shelves, and I just had to have it. It was hard enough to convince my mom to buy ice cream, but then to get her to buy a bottle of this goop that would form a hard crust of chocolate on top? Well, that took some major league whining. But I was really good at whining, so I ate gallons of this stuff.
And of course, you gotta have Pop-Tarts. The breakfast of whiners. Cherry was the best. Well, they said it was cherry on the box, but there couldn’t really have been any actual cherries in it right? If cherry wasn’t available, then strawberry (or the strawberry colored substance). And if that all failed, okay, give me one of those brown sugar ones, I guess that will have to do.