It’s Not So Cheesy

I think I discovered the poetry of Billy Collins when I saw this TED talk: Two Poems About What Dogs Think (Probably). You have to watch the whole thing, since the 2nd poem is the best – or the worst – depending upon your sense of humor and love of anything acerbic…or your love – or maybe dislike – of dogs.

Billy Collins, who is now 80, was Poet Laureate of the U.S. from 2001-2003. During those years, he created “Poetry 180” through the Library of Congress. Collins picked 180 poems that he felt would appeal to high school students and which, he suggested, could be read or listened to at the beginning of the school day…following announcements.

There are lots of great poems to read on that list, even if you’re not a teenager, but this one especially appealed to me:

At department parties, I eat cheeses
my parents never heard of—gooey 
pale cheeses speaking garbled tongues.
I have acquired a taste, yes, and that's
okay, I tell myself. I grew up in a house
shaded by the factory's clank and clamor.
A house built like a square of sixty-four
American Singles, the ones my mother made lunches
With—for the hungry man who disappeared
into that factory, and five hungry kids.
American Singles. Yellow mustard. Day-old 
Wonder Bread. Not even Swiss, with its mysterious
holes. We were sparrows and starlings
still learning how the blue jay stole our eggs,
our nest eggs. Sixty-four Singles wrapped in wax—
dig your nails in to separate them.

When I come home, I crave—more than any home
cooking—those thin slices in the fridge. I fold
one in half, drop it in my mouth. My mother
can't understand. Doesn't remember me
being a cheese eater, plain like that. 

- Jim Daniels

Cheese is also the topic of today’s Andy’s Corner. Or I should say “fromage” is his focus?

Of course, I remember Kraft American Cheese slices, but cheese nostalgia for me would be Bond-ost. Focusing on her Swedish heritage, my mom would make a special effort to get to Denver to buy Bond-Ost for our holidays. And it had to be the one with caraway seeds. She’d pair it with knäckebröd or limpa, which is a wonderful, slightly-sweet Swedish rye bread (will my Thanksgiving guests ever be surprised when they get that nontraditional pairing for our November 25th dinner!).

I’m guessing American Cheese slices will not be part of many holiday menus. In fact, recent articles bemoan the fact that Millennials are “killing” American cheese, by demanding fancier varieties, though a great quote from this Time (via Bloomberg) article states “American cheese will never die. It has too many preservatives” (my apologies to my cousin-in-law who was a VP at Kraft for years and enthusiastically supported and shared their cheeses).

So, as we – apparently – say good-by to the packs of “Kraft 64 American Cheese Singles,” I’d like to offer up this nostalgic recipe for Easy Mac ‘n Cheese. You can buy several packs of the cheese slices now – before they’re gone from the shelves – and then make the recipe…say within the next 10 years or so, since the cheese should still be good (just kiddin’…sort of!).

In addition to this Mac n’ Cheese, here are some other recommendations for your Thanksgiving dinner:

Spiced Pine Nuts, Pecans, and Pumpkin Seeds
Sweet Potato and Pomegranate Salad
Super Simple Sage-y Roasted Turkey Breast
-Southern Cornbread Dressing
Brandied and Baked Cranberries
Green Beans with Ginger and Garlic
Pumpkin Creme Brûlée

And, of course, follow Thanksgiving day with this fabulous leftover Turkey Bone Gumbo.


Easy Mac’n Cheese

Easy Mac 'n Cheese

This makes a super quick and super tasty mac ‘n cheese.  The most time-consuming part is unwrapping each piece of cheese. 🙂 Recipe adapted from

  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • 3/4 c heavy cream
  • 10 slices individually-wrapped yellow American cheese
  • 1/4 c grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/4 c grated cheddar (preferably a sharp cheddar)

Cook pasta in boiling, salted water (no oil!) to al dente.  Drain and set aside.

Heat cream in the same pasta pot over medium low heat.  Remove plastic wrap from cheese and add slices to pot.  Stir.  Add remaining cheese and stir until all the cheeses are melted.  Taste – and add another slice or two of American cheese, if it’s not cheesy enough.  Or add more cream if it’s too thick.

Return cooked pasta to pot; mix well; scoop into pasta bowls and serve.  Rewarm in the microwave by covering with a damp paper towel; add a little more cream, if the mac seems dry.

Recipe brought to you by and Andy and Ann.


    • theRaggedys says:

      Glad we could provide a short trip down nostalgia lane for you. Although we didn’t know about Kraft’s Garlic Cheese Roll when we lived in Louisiana, I’m sure it would have made wonderful cheese grits.


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