Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Boot Is Gone, and the Living Is Cheesy

Farewell nasty boot!
Every family has one: a kid who is accident prone.

Our poster child for juvenile injuries is the Bean. “Impact-resistant” playground woodchips have no chance against this girl. In fact, I believe the ground cover is in cahoots with the “child safe” playground equipment, which seems to dive out and attack her at every turn. 
It’s not like she’s playing on a creaky mid-century relic of a play space. My neighbors and I built this state-of-the-safety-arts school playground just two years ago. As a town-owned playground, it has been safety-certified by every committee within 100 miles. And yet, here are the scars to prove that at least one determined kid can trounce all those safety experts’ best efforts again and again:
  1. Brush burns under the chin and long bloody scrapes under the arms when she slid down a rope climbing structure.
  2. A permanent front tooth severed diagonally in half upon impact with a metal pole (she sustained the injury while attempting to climb the structure blindfolded, so she kind of was asking for trouble).
  3. And our latest war wound: a sprained ankle after a seemingly innocent two-footed jump off the climbing wall.
(The Bean’s accident record is longer than this, but I’ll spare you the details of earlier injuries.)
After a couple of days on crutches and two weeks of hobbling around in “the BOOT,” we were thrilled to celebrate the Bean’s road to recovery last night. The crutches are back in the attic, the boot has been retired, and though she is still limping a bit, it appears that the end of the ankle drama is nigh.

Once again, I am confronted with the stark contrast between our daily calamities and the events in the national news. Our little bumps and bruises are constant reminders that our problems involve only minor inconveniences. Our daughter’s injuries are healable. They are external. They are temporary.

Tedious as it was, nursing the Bean’s ankle has been a welcome relief for me. The process of shuttling among doctors, physical therapists, pharmacies and handicapped-accessible public bathrooms has distracted me, at least temporarily, from the more ominous forces at work in our world this week. I can’t help but remain grateful – not only because my children are relatively safe and home with me in an increasingly unsteady world, but also because their minor trials have allowed me time to distance myself from the immediate impact of the news. The marathon, the horrible (and under-reported) explosion at the fertilizer plant in Texas, and the Senate vote on gun control have formed a tri-fecta of tragedy around us. It will take a long time to unravel my emotions about each of these. 
For now, there is cause in our home to celebrate: a boot has been removed; a lopsided walk has been rediscovered. The tulips are springing to life outside. Soon the Bean will return to the softball field, the roller blades, and a gloriously mundane game of tag on the perfidious playground.

Last night, after a brief boot-removal ceremony at the therapist’s office, we headed home for a victory feast. The homemade macaroni and cheese was the star of the evening. Songs were sung in its honor, odes were penned to commemorate the occasion, and platitudes were heaped upon the chef. Thank god, it’s just another night at the Bean and Pie home.

Victory Mac and Cheese
Serves a very hungry family of 4, or 6-8 reasonably hungry adults
1 ½ pounds of elbow pasta, or whatever pasta you like
salt, to taste
2 cups chopped cauliflower (ours was left over from a previous meal: roasted in olive oil with parmesan and basil)
2 cups chopped broccoli
1 cup chopped white mushrooms

For the sauce:
2-3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup skim milk
½ cup heavy cream
1 cup shredded Parmesan
1 ½ cups shredded cheddar
salt, to taste
Cook pasta in salt and boiling water per package directions. Drain pasta, and reserve the water. Set cooked pasta aside.

Return the pasta water to the stove. Bring to a boil again and blanch the vegetables for a few minutes, to desired tenderness.

Drain the vegetables and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Toss the vegetables onto the pasta.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter on medium heat, then add the remaining ingredients (except salt) and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, constantly stirring (a whisk works well for this). Once all the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth, add salt to taste.
Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and vegetables. Stir to coat, and serve immediately.


  1. Yay! That definitely deserves mac and cheese!

  2. I so agree with you! We too were dealing with a health crisis with my dad during these events, which are saddening, maddening and almost unfathomable to me. Glad the boot is off and your Bean is back on both feet!


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