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Macaroni and Cheese. I promise.

When someone gets the news that they can’t eat gluten, there’s usually a panic response that sounds like this:

“But..pancakes! muffins! bagels! cakes! WHAT ABOUT MY BIRTHDAY? pasta! PASTA! I can never eat pasta again! I’m going to starve!”

While we still haven’t found a good bagel (being from Philadelphia and New York, our standards are impossibly high), we do eat everything else, and we realized that the whole panic thing was a waste of time.

Macaroni and Cheese

2 1/2 tbsp corn flour- I use Bob’s Red Mill because I use it all the time, but it’s available in bulk, too

1/4 cup fake butter- Earth Balance, or your substitute of choice

2 1/2 cups original, plain, not-messed-with soymilk- measure it and keep it pretty cool. Fridge!

8oz fake cheese- Galaxy Rice Shreds or Slices work really well for this. I used the slices, and bought the cheddar and pepper jack flavors- yum city. I used half a pack of each. Get your kitchen buddy to open cheese slices for you.

1 package of your favorite pasta- I highly recommend Tinkyada Brown Rice pasta. We buy the “Little Dreams”, because they’re cute. It takes about 16 minutes to cook, which is longer than gluteny noodz, so plan accordingly.

Salt, pepper, nutmeg to taste

Ready? Cool. Get out a pasta pot and put salty pasta water on to boil. Salt it. Salt it more, sucka. No one salts their pasta water like they should. Melt the butter in a saucepan big enough to hold almost three cups of cream (look at what you have! take inventory!) over low-medium heat. Once it’s all melted, get that corn flour in there. Use a wooden spoon to stir it until it’s incorporated. A lot. Stir it a lot. The butter and flour need to become one entity! Make it happen. Keep stirring it around- the heat should still be pretty low, but the stirring will ensure that the roux doesn’t burn. You’re activating starch granules! It’s magic! See? It doesn’t need gluten. It should stay the same color- you’re not making a brown sauce. We can hit that in another episode. Pour in your soymilk. Stir. Stir more. Don’t beat, or cream, or whisk- just stir. It’s gentle!

Is the pasta water boiling? Add your pasta to it. Set a timer, or don’t. Cook it to your preferences. I like mine bitey. Al dente, or slightly less. My dad likes his to be mushy. We can never eat pasta together.

It’s going to take a little while for this to become a smooth, delicious sauce. Twenty minutes on that same amount of heat. You want it to be lightly simmering, not boiling. Now is a good time to add a sprinkle or two of nutmeg, some pepper, some salt. When you taste it, it’s just going to taste like flourbutter. That’s okay! It just shouldn’t taste bad. That’s an indication that something scorched somewhere, or your soymilk might’ve curdled, or someone in the universe thought you might deserve a bad bechamel. Oh, what, you missed that? Yeah, we added milk- now it’s a bechamel sauce. Look at you, cookin’ all gluten-free and French. Since we’re making cheap Sunday afternoon mac’n’cheese, we’re not going to add the traditional bay leaf, diced onions, and cloves, but it still counts. Or, you can be wicked trashy and just call it white sauce.

At this point, the pasta should be just about done. Right? Drain it. Take the pot off the burner and put that pot back on your stove somewhere. Dump the drained pasta back in. Don’t eat it yet.

After just about twenty minutes, it should be like super velvet awesome sauce. Dip a spoon in, and run your finger down the back. Oh, no, don’t do that, it’s actually really hot. But it should hold that line for a sec before slowly running back together. Did you pre-open those cheese slices? That’s going to come in handy right now. Rip the cheese into smaller pieces and add them to the saucepan. Stir! Melt! Stir! Add cheese! Stir! Keep doing that. Taste constantly. It tastes..whoa, it tastes like cheese sauce! It tastes like NACHO cheese sauce! I want to eat this on everything!

Is all the cheese melted? Is it seasoned properly? Are you ready? Pour that sauce on that pasta. Serve it in bowls as big as your head. Put ketchup and pepper on the table so that you don’t have to get back up. You are a cheese sauce god.

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