The first time Nick and I had dinner together was in his apartment in college. We weren’t officially dating, but I’m pretty sure it happened on the day that we now celebrate as our dating anniversary. I’d just gotten off work and he’d called to ask me what I was doing.
“Nothing—I just got off work.”
“Wanna come over? I’m making diner.”
“What are you making?”
“Hot dogs and macaroni.”
That actually sounded good. I drove over there and hot dogs and macaroni has been one of our favorite meals ever since. I’ve had to alter it to fit our veg. lifestyle, but I think I’ve gotten it down. Actually, needing to be able to keep making this dish was what sparked my exploration into the world of veggie dogs. I’ve tried several varieties and I really only like the Morningstar Farms brand that comes in the freezer section. And you have to cook them just right. Above all, read the package directions. My first attempt to make them, I admit, was rather arrogant. I knew how to make hot dogs! Who reads directions on these things? Anyone can boil hot dogs. What I got was boiled mush. You have to boil the water first, then take it off the burner, then put in the dogs for 2 minutes. No boiling of anything but water. Grilling works too, but they never achieve that same blackness that a great bar-be-qued dog can have. They do get crispy thought, and it does the trick for me.
Now, I could use the same blue box macaroni that Nick made that first night, but of course, I like to go gourmet whenever I can, even with something as simple as Mac. & Cheese. I start with elbow macaroni—boil according to package directions. See, I listen to that stuff now. Then I add some cubed Velveeta cheese—it has to be the processed kind or it will get stringy. I stir that in until it melts. Add some butter and milk, and presto—mac & cheese. To add the hot dogs, I cut up thawed dogs and sauté them (sounds weird, but for the soy variety, it works great). Once they’re nice and crispy, they get stirred in. If I really want to make something impressive, I take some melted butter and stir in crushed corn flakes. Sprinkle that over the top and bake at 375 for 30 minutes. WOW it’s GOOD! This is our nostalgia meal which we actually had last night—today marks the 84th month since the first time we had it.