Terrifying sewing machines and Chorizo Swiss Mac and Cheese

One apparently ubiquitous part of life, no matter where you live, is IKEA. IKEA must be everywhere, and, as furniture goes, is equally attractive to everyone for being moderately attractive with affordable prices. One thing we needed to pick up here is light fixtures … houses, even rented homes, don’t come with light fixtures. We’ve been wandering around under bare bulbs for the past two months, and apparently we should be thankful to have that much.

Going to IKEA in Geneva was … exactly like going to IKEA in Calgary. Like, EXACTLY. The store is laid out exactly the same. If you want to get into the marketplace, you still irritatingly need to take an elevator up, then another one back down. There is a vast showroom on the upper level with the same shortcuts to get to the other end. There’s reasonably priced meals in the upstairs restaurant, with even more reasonably priced hot dogs on the main level, which Z never fails to get. Nothing was different. It was like we had entered some terrifying Swedish dimension where all IKEAS aren’t just identical, BUT IN FACT THE SAME STORE. Wrap your head around that.

I also wanted to get some curtains and was happy to find some cheap ones, but I soon discovered that all curtains came in one size – 15 feet long. In order to deal with this, I was going to have to get a sewing machine.

Now, I like to think of myself as pretty crafty. I can knit a mean sweater and I’m all about the cooking, but I will admit that sewing has always kind of intimidated me. My mom taught me how to sew, and I took home ec in school, but that’s pretty much the end of it. Both my mom and my mother in law used to make all their children’s clothes themselves (mostly) and I was always kind of jealous of their abilities. So now, here I am with my new sewing machine, in cheerful Swedish blue and yellow.

Sewing

Quite frankly, I’m terrified. It doesn’t help that the instructions are in French, as well. Oh well, here’s hoping I’m not too useless to figure out how to hem a few curtains.

In other news, the other day I made a great version of macaroni and cheese. I’d been craving this from home, but trying to find that blue and orange box with the flourescent-shaded orange cheese sauce has not happened in Geneva yet, so I was left to my own devices. I came up with Chorizo Swiss Mac and Cheese. Because I have lately been obsessed with chorizo sausage, yum. And the Swiss comes from the cheese I had in my fridge: gruyere and actually some other type we got at the market that I had no idea what it was but it sure was delicious in this. Did you know that the weird hard cheese with the holes in it you find in North America (“Swiss” cheese) doesn’t exist over here? There’s like 80 types of Swiss cheese here in Switzerland, and they are all better than the hole-y stuff. For the sake of this recipe, I just put it all as Gruyere, which would work nicely. This is so tasty, not too gooey, and horrible for your diet, so enjoy every greasy bite.

Macaroni4

Chorizo Swiss Mac and Cheese

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups macaroni (or other small pasta)

4 oz chorizo, cubed

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

1 small onion, chopped

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp flour

nutmeg to taste

1 tsp dry mustard

3/4 cup milk

1 1/4 cups double cream

1 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded

salt and pepper

1/3 cup breadcrumbs

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Macaroni3

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Cook the macaroni in a large pan of boiling salted water, for 8-10 minutes, or until just cooked. (It needs to be just undercooked as the pasta will be cooked again in the oven.) Drain, return to the pan and set aside.

Fry the chorizo in a medium frying pan over a gentle heat until it just starts to brown and crisp up, then add the thyme and onion and cook for a further 3-4 minutes. Add a splash of white wine near the end, cooking until it’s almost gone. Remove the pan from the heat and add its contents to the pasta.

Put the butter, flour, nutmeg and mustard in a small pan and cook over medium heat until the butter has melted. Mix the milk and cream together and add a little to the flour and butter in the pan, stirring well. Keep adding the milk mixture, bit by bit, stirring well each time.

Turn up the heat and boil for a minute or two, then remove the pan from the heat. Add the gruyere to the sauce while it is still hot and stir together until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the sauce to the pasta mixture and stir everything together. Spoon the mixture into a shallow casserole dish.

Sprinkle the parmesan and the breadcrumbs over the top and bake in the oven for about 20-30 minutes, or until the cheese starts to bubble and the topping is golden-brown.

Sprinkle with the chopped parsley.

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