Now it’s New Hampshire’s turn. Last week, the ski slopes were filled with families from Massachusetts and further south. Finally, local kids and teachers are having a break from the daily grind. However, February vacation can present a bit of conundrum for parents. Do you take the week off and play in the snow … or wait and take the family south in April?
The Nye family always chose the ski slopes. I have, still to this day, never been to Disney World and it doesn’t bother me one little bit. Minutes after the school bell rang on Friday afternoon, we piled into the family station wagon and headed north. Mom spent the week with us in the little red house in the woods and Dad took a long weekend at either end. Mom-time was always a bit more relaxed than when Dad was around. He had this thing about maximizing our season passes. We had to be on the slopes at nine and stay out, no matter how cold it was, until the lift closed at four. Okay, we were allowed a short lunch break at noon.
Life with Mom was more fluid. After all, it was vacation. A ten o’clock start was fine. Make that ten-thirty if it was particularly cold. If it was snowing so hard you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face, Mom was happy to head home at lunchtime. If one of us wanted to stay, that was fine too as long as we could find a ride home.
Yes, my mother would leave one or all of her kids at King Ridge for hours at a time. In case you’ve forgotten, our upbringing was based on what we now fondly refer to as The Joe and Libby Nye School of Negligent Parenting. Love meant giving you space to grow, make mistakes and make amends. That said, it was a small mountain and there were lots of friends and neighbors around. The parents in my neighborhood stuck together. They didn’t mind telling any one of us to knock it off if we were skiing out of control or cutting in the lift line.
Back at the little red house in the woods, there was always something to do. If we hadn’t had enough of the ice and snow, there was a suicidal sledding hill across the road and a skating pond about a half mile away. If one or the other of us made the mistake of complaining about boredom, the culprit was handed a shovel and told to clear the deck. It wasn’t all that bad a chore. The distance from the deck to the ground was about eight feet, maybe ten. Jumping and somersaults off the deck was a favorite pastime once a nice pile of snow provided a soft landing.
When we had enough of the cold, there was a fire in the fireplace and as many books as we’d bothered to haul up from the suburbs. I always assumed it would be a two or three book week. The television was only good for one station and, except to check the weather forecast, was rarely on. A jigsaw puzzle was always in progress on an old card table. Mom and I were the puzzle fanatics and assembled at least a couple during February break. In addition, we might offer to bake something. There was usually a brownie mix in the cupboard and, as long as we promised to cleanup, Mom could be persuaded to pick up a bag of chocolate chips for cookies.
All in all, those vacations were just what we needed.
Here’s wishing one and all a wonderful winter break and bon appétit!
Who doesn’t likes Mac & Cheese, especially after a day outside in the cold? If your kids are of the age and inclination, maybe they’ll make dinner for you. Enjoy!
- 5-6 tablespoons butter or a mix of olive oil and butter, divided
- 8 ounces thick cut bacon, chopped
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound frozen spinach, thawed and well drained
- 4 1/2 tablespoons flour
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 3 cups whole milk or half and half
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
- 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
- 1 pound your favorite short pasta – cavatappi, penne, macaroni …
- 3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
Lightly butter or oil a large casserole dish.
Heat a skillet over medium, add the bacon and cook, stirring frequently until lightly browned. Remove the bacon from the pan, drain and reserve.
Add the onion to the skillet, season with salt and pepper and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes more. Remove from the heat, add back the bacon and stir in the spinach.
Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a heavy saucepan over medium. Add the flour, season with paprika, nutmeg, salt and pepper and cook, whisking, for 1-2 minutes. Whisking constantly, gradually add the milk and heat to steaming. Reduce the heat to low and cook, whisking, until the sauce thickens.
Put the sour cream and mustard in a bowl and whisk to combine. Gradually whisk in the warm sauce. Add the cheddar and half of the Parmigiano-Reggiano and stir to combine.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions, less 1 minute. Drain the pasta, saving a little of the pasta water. Return the pasta to the pot, add the bacon mixture and toss to combine. Add the sauce and toss again. If the pasta seems dry, add a little pasta water. Transfer the pasta to the prepared baking dish.
Put the breadcrumbs in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, add 1-2 tablespoons melted butter or olive oil and toss to combine. Add the remaining the Parmigiano-Reggiano and toss again. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top of the mac & cheese.
You can make ahead to this point, cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before baking.
Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until piping hot and golden.
- One Year Ago – Alpine Mac & Cheese
- Two Years Ago – Fettucine with Mushrooms & Kale
- Three Years Ago – Spaghetti with Cauliflower & Olives
- Four Years Ago – Flourless Chocolate Cake
- Five Years Ago – Lemon Roasted Chicken Thighs
- Six Years Ago – Panna Cotta with Strawberries
- Seven Years Ago – Decadent Mac & Cheese
- Eight Years Ago – Seared Scallops with Roasted Pepper Sauce
- Nine Years Ago – Creole Shrimp & Cheesy Grits
- Ten Years Ago – White Bean Dip
- Eleven Years Ago – Warm Chocolate Pudding
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!
How will you spend your winter vacation? Feel free to share!
Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2020