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I used to be one of the “stoner boys.”
And by that I mean that I haven’t regularly used cannabis for recreational purposes for several years now, but there was a large amount of time in which I did this often enough to be considered a stoner. Growing up primarily in rural Newfoundland while having little to no interest in outdoor recreation meant I was pretty much doomed, along with the rest of my like-minded teenage friends, to take up the herbal habit in an attempt to alleviate the soul-crushing boredom that permeated our day-to-day lives. Still, despite any rumours to the contrary you may have heard, I didn’t use cannabis often … until college (cliché alert).
The famous astrophysicist and cosmologist Carl Sagan wrote a paper advocating the use of cannabis and strongly emphasized its ability to augment creativity and I can confirm his findings myself when looking back at my most genuinely original writing ideas for novels and short stories. It was during my college years that my creative streak reached its zenith. And while I’d like to have sole bragging rights to this, I can’t help but admit that the daily half-gram of “Night Nurse” and “Russian Rhino” was the nitrous in my creative engine.
It was also during these college years that my math learning disability dyscalculia (which went undiagnosed in the rural Newfoundland educational system for obvious reasons) lessened by such a profound degree that my passing math grade in high school was a mere 52 per cent compared to my 98 per cent average in college and I have little choice but to also credit this to my forays with Mary Jane as well.
My most profound creativity boosts were found (cliché alert again) in the kitchen. When the munchies struck, genius followed soon after. Culinary concepts I was learning that previously seemed vague and pedantic suddenly had infinite possibilities that I couldn’t help but experiment. I was the high-flying Leonardo da Vinci of my slightly wavy culinary universe and nothing could stop me … except an extremely limited bank account. College students are notorious paupers after all and I was certainly no exception. My cupboards for one reason or another were usually bare.
It was during one of these munchies-induced creative spurts and having very little grocery money that made me brainstorm a culinary concoction that to this day remains on my end-of-the-month food rotation. It is a very special (but not THAT kind of special) mac and cheese dish that I’ve come to affectionately dub…
Mad Mac and MUN-cheese
- 1/2 a pkg (500g) dried elbow macaroni
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1/2 package of bacon, diced and leanest selected
- 1 large onion, small diced
- 4 cups old cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 packet of Kraft Dinner cheese powder
- 3 tbsp sour cream
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp real butter
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
- Salt and pepper to taste
Prepare mise en place for all ingredients. In a large pan, cook the diced bacon until desired doneness is achieved, drain excess fat and set bacon aside. In the same pan, cook the ground beef and onions together with garlic and chili powder until meat is fully browned and onion is translucent. Set aside. In a medium pot, add your macaroni followed by the water until the level is roughly three inches above the level of the macaroni. Bring to a boil and stir to avoid sticking. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for an additional 10 – 12 minutes or until pasta is soft, but firm to the tooth. Drain pasta (but don’t rinse) and thoroughly combine all ingredients into the empty pot aside from your cheddar cheese. Preheat oven to 400 F and transfer contents of pot to a large roaster. Top with all cheddar cheese and bake for 12 minutes. Cool and serve.
Now, it’s well worth mentioning that I lead a fully grown-up sober life and rarely touch any mood enhancing substance at all. I’ve even stopped micro-dosing cannabis to treat my depression, opting for a more active lifestyle instead with tremendously positive results. That being said, I’ve got nothing against anyone who does and encourage everyone to do what they want to do to stay happy as long as it’s done responsibly. I’d suggest giving this recipe a try at home! Just make sure you’re good and sober before you turn on the stove.
Thanks for reading!
Mark Collins – Port aux Basques, Newfoundland
I’ve noticed a couple times now that you used a funny term [sic] mise en place for your recipes. What does that mean? Big fan by the way, just a confused one too. Maybe try making things a bit simpler for us non-chefs?
Mise en place is a culinary term for “everything in its place” and it basically refers to having all your ingredients prepared and laid out in advance in bowls or whatnot so when the time comes to cook things, you can do it right away and have proper timing. You’re right in that it’s not a common term you can find and I’m glad you brought it up because it’s so useful and I’d like to see it catch on and be more common. Yes, I probably should have explained that one beforehand or used more digestible terms (NPI). But, that’s why I like these Letter Snacks so much! I just had my chance to do so for all the readers, thanks to you.
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Terry Bursey, otherwise known as the Food Dude, is a Newfoundland chef transplanted to Ontario who enjoys putting his mark on traditional recipes and inventing new tasty treats with unexpected ingredients.