Normally I’m pretty pumped about the arrival of fall. When I was younger it used to be my favorite season, return to school notwithstanding, a time of contemplation and tucking into TV shows, the excitement of upcoming holidays, and of course the cooler weather to finally relieve us from the heat of summer. I grew up without an air conditioner until I was in my teens; only in the last twenty years have I really come to appreciate summer properly.
But today fall comes upon us hard. I know of course that technically it doesn’t start until nearly the end of September, but technically doesn’t count. Summer ends with Labor Day and always has; everybody knows that. And nature herself concurs. It rained all last night and is still gross and wet out today, with a deep dark overcast of sepia. Sepia, a color that says “I hate color so much, I puked in the monochrome mix.” Nature itself is flipping me off today.
As is only fitting for a Tuesday, really. Tuesdays are the worst, especially when they’re performing double duty as a surrogate Monday.
The aggressively bad weather has put a predictable damper on my spirits, making it hard to jump back into the work week like nothing happened. It does not help that I have a few projects on my slate that don’t seem easy to deal with, and my brain keeps trying to throw off the yoke. So it’s a matter of finding the right motivation, which will probably involve food.
This weekend I picked up the fixings to make cheesy Stove Top chicken bake, a high-level comfort food. I wish I’d made it last night just to have leftovers today, but I’ll bake it tonight and that will have to be good enough.
Speaking of comfort food, I did an experiment recently to try to replicate my grandmother’s extra homey version of Kraft mac & cheese. I actually bought powdered milk, and added a teaspoon of it to the recipe. The result was, I think, closer than I’ve ever come. The cheese sauce gained an extra thickness that was spot-on, although the flavor wasn’t quite there. I used real butter however, and I don’t think she did. (Also I used whole milk, which I know she never used. In fact she frequently just reconstituted milk from the powder. But that makes skim milk, and skim is evil; besides, I don’t see how adding more healthy milk fat would be a bad thing flavor-wise.) My suspicion is that the butter was the main thing throwing that off, and there’s probably a particular margarine brand that will do it. I don’t believe the brand I prefer is the right one, but it’s probably another push in the right direction.