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Waxing half moon in the cold clear sky

The nights have been clear and cold. The waxing moon has been bright and nearly overhead when Bear and I take our last evening walk. Last night, we were out at 6:30 p.m. With sunset now at 6:15, there was still light in the sky so after we returned, I went back out with the camera to shoot the moon and enjoy it just a bit more.

The days have been mostly sunny and above freezing so the snow continues its slow retreat. February has been unusually pleasant here in northwest Montana. Bear, Auggie and I have been enjoying being outside as much as possible. And despite the quickly dropping temperature as the sun goes down, it is beautiful to be out, especially when there is a…

…waxing half moon in the clear cold sky.

26 Feb 2015

Mac ‘n Cheese for One

Growing up, my Mama made Mac ‘n Cheese in 1 pot…actually in a Corning brand casserole dish that went from stove top to oven. But, we had a gas range and I have electric. So, I do get a pot dirty, but that’s it…one pot, then into a casserole dish and into the oven.

The method is cook the macaroni, drain it, add butter and flour to the hot macaroni and let the butter melt and the flour cook a little. Add milk and let it thicken. Add the cheese and cook until all melt-y and then into the oven until bubbly.

My Mama has a new secret ingredient which she shared with me…add a little dry mustard with the flour. It just adds a little extra something.

I’m not that fond of leftover Mac ‘n Cheese. Some time ago, I saw a recipe that served four which used:

2 cups macaroni
2 cups milk
2 T flour
2 T butter
2 cups cheese

That’s easy to remember. So, I started making a single serviing with 1/4 cup, etc. That is a nice serving, but it is a hearty serving and I’ve taken to making it with 1/3 cup, i.e.:

1/3 cups macaroni
1/3 cups milk
1/3 T flour
1/3 T butter
1/3 cups cheese
***and a bit of the dry mustard.

I have small 5 1/2 inch deep pie plates and they hold the single serving perfectly.

And you can add other stuff!! Today, it was a chopped collard leaf and some black forest ham.

I have no idea why anyone would want to make the boxed stuff!

By the time the water is boiling, I have everything ready to go.

The macaroni cooks for 6 minutes (I threw the greens in for the last 2 minutes), drain, add the butter and flour and the dry mustard.
Add the milk.
Add the cheese – it was Gouda today.
After the cheese is melted and the sauce has thickened a bit more, pour it all in a baking dish.

Top with some bread crumbs – these are from my own bread and I learned a secret from Melissa Clark of the N.Y.Times. Make the crumbs from bread that is not completely dried out and leave them about the size you see here vs grinding them into sawdust. These make a much nicer “crust” on anything and crisp up wonderfully if you pan fry them in just a wee bit of butter or olive oil to go with lots of things for a bit of crunch.

Put that beautiful little dish of Mac ‘n cheese in the oven (350) for about 15 minutes.

So, then … by the time you…

give the dog his treat…

the cat his lunch…

and clean up the kitchen…

Lunch is ready – Mac ‘n cheese for one!

24 Feb 2015

Winter Returns

After eight or nine days of Spring-like weather, it cooled a bit last week. Friday was gray with rain/snow/mix type precipitation off and on.

Today started with a Winter Weather Advisory for slick roads but by mid-morning the temperature was above freezing. Bear and I headed to town. I’ve not been shopping on Saturdays lately…mid-week or Sunday to avoid as many people with various bugs as possible :) !!

But, this week got away from me and I felt like getting out and about so off we went.

The valley was clear and sunny, but the mountains on all sides had snow squalls here and there. The northeast wind felt very cold after a week of warm breezes from the southwest.

It is supposed to be single digit temperatures tonight and tomorrow night before we warm a bit to February “normal”.

Winter returns.

21 Feb 2015

In need of a nap

This last week of sunshine and warm temperatures has had Auggie out and about for nearly the entire day. He is in, mostly on the hour, to get a stomach rub, chin scratch and a bit of food.

AND…he has been bringing big, fat, mice! Srsly, he has been on a mouse bender!!

I don’t know if the mice are slow as they come out or if Auggie’s hunting skills have improved or maybe both. Prior to this, the prey gifted to me have been mostly voles. Voles are blind. Voles are about 1/3 the size of the mice that Auggie has been dispatching lately.

Much as I dislike having mice in the house… and I know they are rodents, etc., etc. Still…I am always a bit sorry to see the “bodies” and always wonder if there is a Mr. or Mrs. Mouse and/or baby mouses… Gah – the circle of life…

Ultimately, after all of that hunting and out and abouting…

Auggie was in need of a nap…

…in the sunshine.

17 Feb 2015